When you get started at your new job, you will realize that what is required of you isn’t only what’s written in your job description or employee handbook but also the unwritten rules that can significantly enhance your relationships with both colleagues and management, boost your chances for promotion, and even prevent potential missteps that could risk your job security.

From decades of observing and managing diverse HR functions in multiple industries across East Africa, we have put together a list of seven crucial but often unspoken rules to help you stay likable and increase your success in the workplace.

1. Respect the culture of communication

Every workplace has its own culture, especially when it comes to communication. Pay attention to whether your colleagues prefer emails, phone calls, or face-to-face conversations. Adapting to the preferred communication style makes you more like a team player and shows your willingness to integrate seamlessly into the team, a quality that managers and peers alike will appreciate.

2. Be punctual and respect other people’s time

Time is a resource that everyone values in high-performing workplaces. Endeavor to be punctual not only for your workday but also for meetings and deadlines. This shows that you respect your job and your colleagues’ time. Reliability is a key factor in maintaining your likability on the team and can significantly impact your professional reputation.

3. Take initiative but know your boundaries

While taking initiative is often seen as a valuable trait, knowing when to step back is equally important. Volunteer for projects where you can genuinely contribute, but avoid overstepping into areas outside your expertise or responsibility unless specifically asked. This balance can demonstrate your eagerness to contribute while respecting the roles and contributions of others.

4. Maintain professionalism, even in informal settings

Whether it’s a casual Friday or a company outing, the way you conduct yourself should always align with professional standards. This includes how you dress, speak, and interact with both management and peers. Keeping a professional demeanor in all settings reinforces your respect for the workplace and its culture.

5. Learn the art of discretion

Your ability to discern what should be shared and what should be kept confidential is crucial in any workplace. This includes personal opinions about your job, colleagues, or management. Exercising discretion builds trust and demonstrates your ability to handle sensitive information, a trait highly valued by employers and teammates alike.

6. Be a collaborative team player

Collaboration is key to organizational successes. Being someone who facilitates teamwork, offers help, and acknowledges others’ contributions can make you a beloved team member. This approach not only increases your likability but also places you in a favorable position for leadership roles.

7. Embrace and encourage feedback

Feedback is fundamental for personal and professional growth. Show that you value improvement by seeking out feedback actively and handling it with grace, whether it’s positive or not. Similarly, offer respectful and constructive feedback to others when appropriate. This openness to growth and improvement signals your commitment to personal and team success.

While these rules might not be explicitly stated in your office, they play a critical role in the dynamics of any workplace. For human resource managers, understanding and communicating these unwritten rules can help create more harmonious and productive work environments. By following these guidelines, you not only increase your chances of success and promotion but also ensure you remain a valued and respected member of your team.

Have you had scenarios where you experienced, adhered to or broke any of these rules? Tell us about it in the comments section.