Be an Excellent Employee
There are a lot of reasons you may want to be an excellent employee. If you want to be considered for promotion, for example, you want to show your unique commitment to your job. In order to work on being a good employee, focus on doing a good job around the office. Come into work a positive attitude. Lastly, interact with other employees in a positive manner.
Doing an Excellent Job
- Be on time. Punctuality is important. No one wants to work with am employee who's consistently late. Make sure you arrive to work, work meetings, and other obligations on time.
- "To be early is to be on time" should be a mantra you live by. Try to get to work 5 to 10 minutes early each day. Arrive at meetings a little before things are scheduled to start. This will show your boss that you take your obligations seriously. He or she will be impressed to see you always running a little ahead of schedule.
- In the morning, give yourself more time than you think you need to get ready. If you normally take 20 minutes to shower, give yourself half an hour. If you think breakfast will take about 15 minutes, set aside 20 minutes to eat.
- Always take more time than necessary for your commute. Things like traffic and train delays should not result in you running late to work.
- Complete tasks on your own. Your boss wants an employee who can get the job done without excessive handholding or coddling. Strive to be autonomous in your work. Complete tasks on your own, without asking superiors for assistance.
- Pay attention during training. Take notes if necessary, and study them at home as if you were prepping for a big test. You want to know all the basics of how to do your job so you won't end up confused later on.
- If you're unsure of something, try to figure it out yourself first. Before going to a superior with a question, see if there's a way you can figure out the problem on your own. Is there an employee handbook that may answer your question? Can you search for potential solutions on the internet? If you're able to identify and solve a problem without asking for help, your boss will be impressed.
- However, you should ask questions if you're still unsure of something after searching for a solution on your own. While your boss wants employees that can work solo, you don't want to risk making a mistake. This could reflect more poorly on you than simply asking for help when you need it. Just try to minimize how often you come to your boss or other workers with an issue.
- Adapt quickly to changes. Changes are a part of any office dynamic. Employees who are able to adapt to changes fast are very desirable. In the event of a change in policy or procedure, try to adjust to the new routine as quickly as possible.
- Ask questions and take notes when something new is being explained to you. Try to understand new information right away so you can smoothly get back to your job with changes in mind.
- Be willing to learn. Many employees will complain about, say, a new computer system at work. Try to be the employee with a positive, excited attitude regarding changes. See a shift in work dynamic as an opportunity to learn something new and diversify your resume.
- Work hard. It seems obvious, but old-fashioned hardwork is among the most desirable qualities in a job candidate. When you're in the office, pay attention to your job. Focus all your energy on completing the task at hand in an efficient manner. Employers want employees who are hardworking and produce results.
- Work to see concrete results every day. Try to tune out distractions when you're at your desk working on a job or project. Avoid taking excessively long breaks or chatting with other employees when you should be working.
- Many employees feel schmoozing and getting close to higher ups is the way to the top. While being friendly with your boss can help, being a hard worker will help you Get Along with Your Boss more than casual conversation will. Focus on your work over the politics of the office.
- Keep organized. Organization is the foundation of efficient work. Your boss will be impressed if you're a well-organized person, as your organizational skills will benefit your place of work.
- Keep a planner or calendar at your desk, keeping track of deadlines, meetings, and other aspects of your schedule.
- Set personal goals for yourself. If your boss assigns you a project, break the project down into chunks. Set manageable mini-deadlines for yourself in the weeks leading up to the project's final deadline.
- Stay up-to-date on e-mail, returning e-mails within 24 hours. It can help to make a list in a notebook of e-mails you need to return. When you have a spare 15 minutes, work on returning e-mails.
- Pay attention to detail. If you've ever browsed a job-board, you'll know lots of employers say they're looking for someone "detail-oriented" to fill a position. This means employers want employees who are able to focus on work. In your own place of work, try to be a detailed-oriented employee.
- A good way to increase your attention to detail is by doing one task at a time. When you have a list of 10 things to do for a workday, do not think ahead when you're working on the first item on the list.
- If you need to call a client to set up a lunch meeting, all your energy should be focused on talking to that client. Make sure you get all the details down. What days are best for the client? What kind of food does he or she prefer? Does the client want you to bring anything to the meeting? Keep yourself in the present moment. If you start thinking about the press release you have to write when you get off the phone, you may forget important details.
Fostering the Right Attitude
- Go into work with passion. It's hard to be an excellent employee if you lack passion. If you're simply suffering through work for 8 hours a day, this will show up in your attitude and performance in subtle ways. Try to go into work each day with a sense of passion and excitement.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your job. Say you're a copywriter for a non-profit. You may find some of the material you have to write a little silly or corny. However, think about the bigger picture. While the wording in a recent press release may sound saccharine to you, it could result in more donations, allowing your company to do more good in the world.
- Authentic passion is hard to fake. If you're in a job you do not feel strongly about, consider looking for a different job. It's very hard to be focused and committed when you feel you're in the wrong career.
- Think creatively. Employers love employees who are able to creatively problem solve. In any given situation, you should be looking for new and innovative solutions. A creative employee is an invaluable asset to any company.
- Creativity can be hard to cultivate. However, there are ways to amp your creative side. As you go through your day-to-day tasks, periodically pause and think, "Is there a more efficient way I could be doing this?" You should always be on the lookout for creative solutions to office problems, finding ways to make things run smoother.
- Do not be shy. If you have an idea on how to improve things, approach your boss respectfully. Even if he or she passes on your idea, employers appreciate employees who take initiative.
- Work on being upbeat. A positive attitude is contagious. Good employees come to work with a fresh perspective each day, eager to do their best. Try to come in each day feeling positive. This will reflect well on you and make you a valued employee.
- Try to have a "half glass full" mentality. Come to into work looking at each day as a new opportunity to grow, change, and learn. If you're in a bad mood, this will show up in your performance.
- Practicing self care outside of work can affect your personality. Strive to eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. If you're taking care of yourself physically, this will improve your emotional attitude.
- Be honest. Many employees are inclined to talk themselves up to gain favor. While it's good to be confident, sometimes confidence veers on dishonestly. Be honest about yourself and your capabilities. Self-criticism provides you with an opportunity to grow and learn. Employers want ambitious employees who will push themselves to succeed.
- Do not be self-depreciating, however, as this can come off as having a negative attitude. If you don't know how to do a task, don't say, "I'm too stupid to figure that out." Instead, say something like, "I've never run Google Analytics before, but I would love the chance to learn how if you have a few minutes to show me."
- Take risks. Employers want employees who will continue moving up. No one wants someone who's content to stay in the same position for years. Be bold and take risks. Write down a list of 10 things you would do at work if you knew failure was not a possibility. Then, try to complete that list anyway. Not all of your pursuits will be a roaring success, but chances are you will reach some goals along the way. Your boss will be impressed that you took the initiative to push yourself out of your usual comfort zone.
Interacting with Others
- Help motivate others. You don't just want to focus on yourself at work. Make an effort to motivate other employees. Most jobs involve a lot of teamwork, so boosting morale is vital in a good employee.
- As stated, a positive attitude is contagious. If a co-worker seems down or off, try to put a positive spin on things. If everyone is stressed out because of a looming due date, say something like, "This is an opportunity to really test our dedication."
- Be willing to help others out. If you see someone who looks confused and lost, politely ask if they need a helping hand. You can help others achieve their goals by offering them guidance with their own work.
- Advocate on behalf of your co-workers. Remember, teamwork is important. It isn't all about you. Your boss will be impressed if you act on your company's best interest rather than your own personal ambitions. If you're on a short list to go to a conference, but know a co-worker is more knowledgable on the subject, mention this to your boss. Say something like, "I know you're deciding between me and Natalie for that conference this fall. I appreciate being considered for the opportunity, but I think Natalie would do better than me."
- Practice good communication skills. If you want to be an excellent employee, you need to be able to communicate effectively. When talking to your boss and co-workers, make sure you listen and are understood.
- Practice active listening. Smile, nod, and offer other non-verbal cues to indicate you're paying attention to the speaker. When the speaker finishes talking, reiterate what they just said to make sure you understood completely. Do not think of your response while another person is talking. Simply listen and try to understand.
- If you're having a conflict, think back to other times you had to navigate a difficult or awkward situation. How did you handle the situation? How did you help smooth out a conflict? Use the skills you learned from past personal or professional issues in the workplace.
- Avoid office gossip. Gossiping says a lot more about you than it does about the other person. If you gossip about your boss or co-workers, people will view you as distrustful. There's also always a good chance what you say about someone in private can get back to that person. If you hear people gossiping, it's best to disengage. Offer non-committal responses like, "Sorry you feel that way" and simply move on.
- Give credit to co-workers. Once again, show your boss and co-workers that you're willing to share the spotlight. Instead of being jealous at another person's accomplishments, give them credit. Success is not finite. If someone achieves something, instead of being envious offer them a sincere congratulations.
- Dress for success. Coming to work in your nicest clothes can help you feel better about yourself, affecting your performance for the better.