The most successful people realize their actions and choices affect their ability to accomplish their goals. When you acknowledge that you have more control over your future than you realized, it can be very motivating and empowering. What habits can you adopt to help improve your chances to succeed at work?
1. Seek ways to enhance your marketability.
Be opportunistic. Don't just float through your day; keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to get involved in new projects. Employers value job seekers who show initiative and can demonstrate that they are always willing to take on new tasks and learn new things. When you volunteer for leadership roles and to contribute to special projects, you'll be setting yourself up to be more marketable later.
2. Be open to constructive criticism. Supervisors appreciate workers who comfortably receive criticism and take it to heart without appearing defensive or upset. We all know that not all bosses are capable of providing truly constructive critiques, but do your best to appear to have a good attitude when a superior provides advice about how to do better.
3. Request feedback. A step beyond being open to criticism, actually requesting feedback will make it clear that you are always hoping to improve your performance. Don't expect daily feedback or a pat on the back every time you meet a deadline, but do make it clear to your boss that you welcome his or her advice and assistance as you strive to do everything necessary for the team or department.
4. Get organized. Even if you have a "system," if your desk at work looks like a tornado just went through, your colleagues and supervisors probably assume you are disorganized and probably can't handle more responsibility. Make a point to appear as organized as you'd need to be to earn a promotion.
5. Find ways to learn new things. Perhaps your current job doesn't offer a lot of obvious opportunities to learn new skills. Make a point to find professional development opportunities that may be beyond your current work scope and ask for permission to enroll in them. Think about your career goals and recognize that no one cares more about them than you – it's your job to make sure you learn what you need to know to accomplish your plans. If you can't get permission for professional development, use your personal time to enhance your job skills.
6. Take responsibility. If you made a mistake, admit it and learn from the error. Even if you have to take some heat, it is much better than trying to pass blame. You'll earn respect from your peers when you have the gumption to say, "I was wrong, and I will know better next time."
7. Be persistent. We've all heard, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." The most successful professionals do not give up. Create goals and use every day as an opportunity to move in the right direction to achieve them. For example, if you want to move into a managerial role, even if you didn't get selected to be part of a cohort to train as managers this quarter, think of ways to improve your chances for next time.
In addition to requesting feedback about why you weren't selected, begin an independent research program to learn everything you can about how to manage. Read books by respected leaders in the field and seek out online resources to keep up-to-date on the topics that will help you be more competitive next time. Don't keep your extra work a secret; make sure your supervisors and colleagues know that you're taking responsibility for your own plans.
8. Be willing to take on new things and pitch in. Every office has the employee who quietly shirks work responsibilities and hopes no one notices. Clearly, the person who is always available to help and offers to do extra work is more likely to be first in line when it comes time for promotions and favored projects.
9. Get there early and stay late. Even though many employers are allowing employees to telecommute and have flex time, and some organizations don't focus on "face time" when it comes to evaluating employees, more traditional organizations still tend to appreciate the employee who shows up early and doesn't dash off at the stroke of 5:00. If your organization goes by the clock, make sure you are putting in your time and then some if you want to get noticed.
10. Learn when to delegate so you can move on. It's often easier to just do things yourself instead of taking the time to teach someone else to handle your responsibilities, but if you have an opportunity to delegate, do not waste it. If you never make the effort to teach a new person to handle your roles, you will be stuck doing the same job forever.
11. Dress the part you want to play. Even if your workplace is a casual environment, it doesn't mean you should wear flip-flops and cutoff shorts all summer. You should always dress so you'd be prepared to impress a supervisor, customer or client.
12. Build some relationships. While work is not all about making friends, research shows that friendships at work can positively affect profitability at work. Profitability is a good thing, and so is having a work friend to go for coffee or get lunch.
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