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How to Be a Great Employee (and not Just for your Boss)
There’s room for improvement in all of us, and that extends to the workplace. If you think of your career or job, are there areas in which you could definitely extend more effort? Things you’d like to do better, mistakes you’d like to correct, and so on? For some it could be as simple as changing their attitude towards work, and for others, it might mean something larger, like working towards a new skill or course of study to better equip them for the job.
Photo Credit: ELEVATE
One major part of being a “good employee” might surprise you, but it’s true: never discount your own worth. When it comes to work, no matter if you’re a well-paid executive or working part-time in retail, you provide a service to your employee, an essential service. Their business and/or company is able to exist and thrive because of your hard work.
When you believe in yourself and your own value, it can illuminate for you the areas in which you’d like to improve upon. And no, it’s not just for your boss: it’s for you as well as the overall workplace. To quote a favorite saying of grandmothers everywhere, “Any job worth doing is worth doing right.”
So how to improve yourself in the workplace to be a better employee? Here’s a few areas for employees to work on, to become great and valued members of the team.
Work on Time Management
This is a big one, that tends to span all types of jobs, careers and positions, and is exacerbated by our always-online culture. When we’ve always got a phone in our hand or within reach, it can be hard to stay on task and get those jobs done in a timely fashion. Managing our time can be hard when we’re always “plugged in”, and distracted by outside factors, breaking news and constant updates.
A few ways to manage time more effectively is to invest in a bullet journal or scheduling book (or do one on the computer or via app; there are plenty available). Write down all your various tasks, meetings, deadlines and assignments and cross them off as you do them. Hold yourself accountable. The assistance of apps that keep you from surfing the internet or using social media for periods of time or until you get your work done are especially helpful if you find yourself reaching for your phone when you should be working.
As you begin getting more and more tasks done, you’ll feel that sense of satisfaction and find that it gets easier and easier to stay on task. Practice makes perfect!
Conflicts and Negativity
There are going to be conflicts, the occasional drama and problems that need to be solved in every workplace, no matter how big or small the team is. That’s just life. But if you learn to resolve these conflicts while staying positive, and focus on getting issues corrected without letting them escalate, you and the entire team will be so much happier.
One way to achieve this is by listening. Listen to your team, and take the time to really try and understand their feelings on a certain issue. Tell them that you hear them. Make changes, apologies and offer solutions when necessary. Don’t encourage placing blame or pointing fingers, instead focus on solving the problem with helpful, realistic solutions.
Stay in a State of Learning
If you love your job and you’re good at what you do, why not continue down that path, engaging your learning muscle and honing your talent? There’s nothing but positive benefit to continuing to learn and brush up on your skills. And there are added benefits: if you take the time to polish up your skills and learn more about your field, it shows your employer that you’re serious about your job. They’ll see that you are an asset to the company and it could lead to promotions or a raise, in addition to other great job perks.
The best perk, though, to constantly learning is what it does for you: it boots your self-esteem, keeps you happy, and makes you a well rounded person.
Set Goals and Achieve Them
Whether you’ve been at your job for five months or twenty five years, it’s always a good idea to continuously set goals for yourself and do your best to meet them. Whether it’s achieving “employee of the month” or finally cinching that client you’ve been courting, having attainable goals to meet boosts self-confidence, inspires healthy competition and keeps your job interesting and rewarding.
Of course, there will be the odd occasion when you don’t meet your goals, and that’s okay too: this also teaches a lesson on how to accept the occasional failure and move on with better skills.
Learning to Accept Feedback/Criticism/Discipline
This is a big one. It can be hard for many people, especially if they’ve been at their career for a long time, to accept that they’ve messed up; made a mistake; could use some improvement. It can be incredibly difficult to let down those defenses and accept that an authority figure is telling us to do better.
Learning to accept criticism and dealing with the disciplinary consequences of our mistakes can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a necessary one in any workplace, no matter the industry. That isn’t to say that you have to accept unfair treatment, harassment or discrimination, but in the cases where you know ou could have done better, or if you relaize you’ve made a mistake: own up to it, accept the consequences calmly, and agree to do the work necessary to improve. That’s all you have to do.
Work with Others
Working with a team of employees can be frustrating sometimes, but these are people that you’re likely to be spending a lot of time with. If you can, try to make the work experience easier for them and yourself by being flexible, friendly and easy to work with. Nobody likes a tense office environment and we all have bad days. Just extending a little courtesy and compassion to your coworkers can go such a long way. Good faith gestures like agreeing to switch schedules with someone, helping someone fix a mistake, or standing up for a fellow employee when you feel they’re being treated unfairly can really mean the world to a coworker.
If you have a great idea for a project, speak up! Let your coworkers and your boss know what you’ve come up with. Showing initiative and leadership is a must for any employee who wants to rise up the ladder and become a respected member of the team. Showing leadership is the key thing that employers look for when deciding on promotions. If you want to rise in the ranks, you simply have to be a leader. Throw that shyness out the window, stop second-guessing yourself, and speak up with your idea.
Be Honest and Loyal
Nobody likes a shady team member who is only out for themselves. Be honest and upfront as an employee. This means showing loyalty to your company and fellow employees and acting in good faith at all times. Keep work information confidential, don’t steal, don’t poach clients or steal ideas from coworkers, and always act with integrity. Over time, your loyalty and honesty will shine through and give you a stellar reputation among your coworkers, and it will definitely pay off in the end.
These are just a few tips on how to be a great employee. Knowing your worth, treating your team with kindness, being loyal and honest, and being a leader who shows initiative and cares about others will all take you a very long way in advancing your career. No matter what industry you work in, you can be the best employee you can be just by being the best person you can be.
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