People who know me know that I don't talk much about my job, and I might seem a bit “young” to be giving career advice, but I have actually climbed quite a ways and have been very successful in my chosen industry. Lately, it's been on my mind that I would like to share the things that I have learned that I believe will help you as you work to succeed in your chosen industry.
1. Be willing to look like you don’t know something, even if you do. Any time you start in a new position you should act like everything you are being told is valuable information and like you have never heard it before. If you are asked, “Did you not do this at your last job?” then you answer by saying, “Yes, we did do this, but I don’t want to presume that I know how you do things here.” You don’t have to go to the extreme here. The word "Copy" means the same on every machine. I’m just trying to convey that people appreciate when you come into their organization not acting like you own the place. Come in humble, soak up everything they say, ask several questions that you already know the answers to and questions that you don’t, and then show by actions that you can do the job and do it well. Never tell them (except at the interview of course).
2. Never try to change the way things are done, at least not right away. It’s that old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s the same in business. When you are new, act like it, unless of course you have been hired to revamp a department. Show your boss and colleagues that you value them by valuing the way they do things. Do it their way until you build a rapport with them, several months at least. Then, when your opinion is asked give it honestly, but give it gently. Never insult a system that a colleague came up with or that has been around for a long time, just gently suggest a tweak here and there as the opportunity presents itself.
3. Use caution when friending coworkers. It’s easy to think of colleagues as friends because we generally spend more time with them than we spend with our spouse. However, as long as we work in the same department we are colleagues first and foremost. When there is a promotion or a layoff we will almost always be going against each other. And, while you can generally trust your colleagues when times are good, you never know when times might turn bad. If it means turning on you or being turned out onto the street, most people will turn on you. It’s okay to be friendly with your colleagues, but be very careful letting them be close friends. Decide whether or not you would be willing to give up your job for them before you let them get too close. Also, before saying anything, think to yourself, “Am I okay with everyone, including my boss, knowing what I am about to say?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t say it. If you are in need of friends then join a community group or seek out people in other departments to take to lunch. Lastly, I recommend never letting your guard down too far around your boss. Even if you trust them and know they are good people, your boss’s loyalty should always lie with the company first.
4. Don’t ever bad mouth your boss, another colleague, your department or your company to a colleague or on a public site. These opinions should be left to your spouse or best friend (assuming you are following tip 3 and your best friend does not work with you). If you have legitimate complaints then you should talk to your boss about them. If things are not resolved the way you would like, then either suck it up or change jobs. Don’t keep talking about it. Doing so brings down your morale and the morale of all those around you. This will not go unnoticed for long.
5. Do absolutely everything to the best of your ability. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s, every time. Laziness can be detrimental to your career. If the printer is out of paper, don’t just add one ream. Fill it to full. If you write an email, proof read it before you send it. Straighten up your desk before you go home. Since I was young I tried to do as the Bible says when it says, “Do everything as if unto the Lord.” I believe this is a large part of why I am where I am today. I never take the easy route. If I see something that needs to be done I don’t leave it for the next person, I do it. Even if it’s as simple as changing the toilet paper roll in the bathroom. I always ask myself, “Would I present this to God?” “Is this the amount of effort I would put in if this was for God?”
6. Help others succeed. There is a saying, “What you say about others says more about you than it does about them.” Compliment your colleagues to your boss and other employees. I promise it will advance you faster than it advances them. Also look for ways to help make others look good. Give them the credit when you do a project together. Aside from a few hard hearted people, the people that you help and compliment will do the same for you. Plus, after several projects, your boss will realize that you are consistently on the team that does well, even if you are giving credit to others.
7. Always, always, always be consistent. Don’t be in a good mood one day and a bad mood the next. Don’t pay attention to details one day and be lazy the next. Don’t come to work dressed nice one day and disheveled the next. Inconsistency will give people the impression you cannot be trusted because they are never sure what they are going to get.
8. Remember that no matter what you choose to wear to work it is a uniform. It should be clean and pressed, if necessary, and a smile should be part of it. As long as you are in your uniform a smile is on your face. This will help you be consistent with your positive attitude, your compliments to others and your willingness to do everything with excellence.
9. Never argue. If you believe someone is wrong, let them finish. You can gently state your differing opinion. If it's not well received then politely walk away. If it affects you directly ask if you can talk to them Set up a meeting to discuss your opinions another time. During your meeting converse in such a way that you will say a sentence and then they will say a sentence, back and forth. If you can’t both do this calmly and rationally then set up a meeting with your supervisor. The three of you should meet so that your supervisor can coach you both on the best way forward. If your supervisor disagrees with you see Tip 3. If you supervisor agrees with you then see Tip 6.
10. If you are a supervisor, never, never, never, play favorites. The people who work for you are not your friends. If you cannot be objective then you should not be a supervisor. Always do what’s right and never just what’s easiest or what will help a friend unless it is genuinely the most right thing to do. Your employees are not your friends and neither is your boss. If you want to succeed in the workplace then you have to accept that it can be lonely place. Make friends elsewhere.
11. Balance work with family and friends. If there is no one to help celebrate your success then what’s it all worth? See Tip 3. If you are wondering how in the world to balance your work and home life, start by using all of your vacation days. It’s okay to roll some over if you have something big planned next year, but if you get to the end of the year and you haven’t used any of your vacation days, then something is wrong.
12. Decide what you want and go for it. If you want your boss’s job then show everyone that you work hard and that you care. And, pray that your boss gets a promotion or another job offer. Never shy away from asking for or applying for something you aren’t qualified to do. If you have proven that you are loyal and trainable, then people will put you in places you don’t belong because they will know they can trust you to learn the job and do it well.
13. Never stop learning. Invest in yourself. Use your commute or a couple of lunch breaks every week to read/listen to a non-fiction book about leadership, conflict management or bettering yourself. If you don’t do this you will continually be surpassed by those who do.
See all previous posts at alifeplannedisneveras