teamwork-employees-meeting-3Most organizations have policies and procedures. If you’re not sure what they are, a quick glance at the employee handbook will inform you of the rules as well as the expectations for codes of behavior and ethics. The rule book provides you with a road map for navigating the system.

But almost immediately, you will notice that these may be formal rules for how the company operates, but not everyone follows them. In fact, the more attention you pay to the workplace dynamics, the more you will realize that there are many unwritten rules that no one tells you about. As a result, you are forced to discover them through trial and error, and in the process you can find yourself in a sensitive situation. It’s up to you to figure out what all the rules are at your company to be successful.

Here are seven rules you need to pay attention to in order to survive and thrive in the workplace:

1. Written rule: It’s a meritocracy.

Unwritten rule: Getting promoted is not just about who does the best job. 

Politics and loyalty and favors play a large part in the decision-making process. At best, companies place 80% of their decision to promote based on performance and 20% on relationships and politics; more likely it’s 50/50. What does it take to get promoted or hired in your company? Learn the rules to get ahead.

2. Written rule: We offer equal opportunity regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual preference, or age.

Unwritten rule: If you are a white male, you most likely get compensated more and have the best chance of getting promoted. 

Look at the organizational chart of your company. Is there an equal representation of gender in leadership? How diverse is the pipeline? Does it reflect the written or unwritten rule? Many organizations pay lip service to equal opportunity, but what is the reality? How committed is your organization to this rule?

3. Written rule: The organizational chart shows who has the power to make decisions.

Unwritten rule: Titles don’t necessarily indicate power.