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Years ago, I started at a company full of anticipation and excitement for a new adventure. I read over the employee handbook to make sure I was aware of the key aspects of joining the new company. But, I was soon caught off guard by one unwritten rule… something that was a key cultural element and very important to the manager. That key element is that she’s a die hard college fan and does not allow any red in the office – red being the main color of the rival team.

There was section in the employee handbook that outlined her disdain for a certain college’s sports teams. There was no insight about how to manage my time with her on game days; for example, she left the office early on game days so no afternoon help from my boss. There was no clause in the dress code about avoiding red in your work wardrobe.

Absolutely no red in the office!Seriously. No red. No red dry erase markers. No red ball point pens. No red manila folders. No red.

The internally known – yet unwritten – cultural rule of “no red” was normal and expected by everyone, except the newest employee.

Looking back to when I was that new employee, I wish that someone had made the “no red” rule clear to me. Even a quick heads up by one of my peers would’ve eliminated an embarrassing moment soon after I started. It was sure awkward when I showed up wearing a red blouse during the first week of work… I will never forget the stares of shock. Thanks, people… thanks for throwing the newbie under the bus.

What are the unwritten rules of your company?