Five Ways to Spring Clean Your Career
Think it's important to only clean out your closets and declutter your home this time of year? Think again. According to experts, it's actually a ripe time to evaluate your job performance to put a new spring into your step. Here are five ways to obliterate old work habits and attitudes that no longer serve you.
1. Be punctual
Suffer from the Monday morning blues? If you're consistently late, Peter Handal, CEO, chairman and president of Dale Carnegie Training suggests setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than usual. "That way," he says, "you have no excuse but to be prepared and present and on time." He adds that one of the worst work habits for an employee to have is perpetual lateness, since "being on time is one of the easiest ways to earn respect from your superiors, clients and colleagues."
2. Ask for feedback
Want to really know what you should work on? Handal recommends asking your co-workers. "As hard as it may be, asking your co-workers for honest feedback can provide you with invaluable information about yourself and the ability to make positive changes in the workplace." Whether you dress unprofessionally or comment too often on your personal life, you may not realize you're consistently doing these things without feedback from peers.
3. Ask for help
Laura Leist, author of 'Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 25 Techniques to Increase Productivity,' also recommends asking -- but in this case, recognizing certain weaknesses and asking for help, whether it's yearning to improve your time management or communication skills. Her solution? Ask for tools or resources to strengthen your shortcomings. "Many companies offer education reimbursement or professional development funds to employees to help strengthen weaknesses. If this is not something your company has made available in the past – ASK!" Taking a one-time class may be a small amount of money to invest for a greater return on investment.
4. Eliminate paper
Got e-mails? Seriously, if your in-box continuously overflows or your desk has an avalanche of paperwork, Leist reminds us that bad habits at work can lead to a lack of productivity and wasted company time. "Get in the habit of eliminating paper and information immediately if not needed or after the purpose has been served," she advises. For instance, she recommends eliminating paper or e-mails from piling up by consciously making decisions as they arrive into your work space. "Each piece of paper you touch requires a decision." If you decide you will need it later on, create a temporary location to store it until you need it rather than tossing it into an ever-growing pile.
5. Get a career coach
According to Don Hurzeler, author of 'The Way Up: How to Keep Your Career Moving in the Right Direction,' what you don't know can kill your career. "We are all a bit blind to the things we do that do not serve us well at work," he says. Since our habits become the norm and we may simply assume that others are comfortable or at least tolerant, he suggests getting a coach to "tell you the truth about yourself." Whether your long lunch hours are driving the rest of the team crazy or the "fun" you had at the after-work meet up was over-the-top, he notes, "The coach will push you to finally solve those shortcomings that have always been present."
Above all, year-end reviews aren't the only time to evaluate your behavior and attitudes to ensure you're having an outstanding year. Leist reminds us, "Employers and employees are not provided with a crystal ball on the first day of work. If work habits need to change, they must be recognized by the employer and the employee, and the employee must be willing to accept the change."
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Vicki Salemi is an author, public speaker, and recruiter with 15 years of corporate experience. She's the author of Big Career in the Big City and is also a global freelance journalist the past 14 years covering careers, entertainment and lifestyle. Learn more info on VickiSalemi.com and follow her on Twitter @VickiSalemi.