There are tons of things you can do to be a bad employee, but who wants to try to be that? Instead, we like to focus on how you can become a better employee and make yourself more valuable to your company. Take a look at these 10 ways you can start being a better employee today.
1. Don’t miss work.
This should be obvious, yet I hear employees whine all the time that, “well- I have a LIFE…sorrrrrry!” after missing several days for situations that just didn’t need to be treated as an emergency. Life happens, yes. But no employer wants an unreliable, whiny employee. Do everything you can to be at work- every day, all day. If it helps, let me share with you a scene that often reminds me of what lengths some go to in order to make getting to work happen. Often on my drive to work there is a guy walking in his McDonalds uniform to McDonalds- I assume he’s walking to his shift. One day it was raining and apparently he didn’t have an umbrella (and obviously, he either doesn’t have, or chooses not to use, a car), so what did he do? He wore a trash bag and walked a bit faster that day. He didn’t call in and say, “Sorry, I don’t have a car and it’s raining so I can’t get there today”. If he can make such an effort for a minimum wage, draining job with crabby customers, what worthwhile excuses could the rest of us have?
2. Push the wheel forward.
“Pushing the wheel” was a term my professors used constantly throughout graduate school when speaking of research. They would tell my fellow students and me that we don’t seek to learn just for the sake of learning. We have to use what we learn to push further, to do more. Be the employee who suggests improvements, who thinks outside the box. Use what you know and learn on the job to better your company and your industry. Resist the urge to be a dead-beat like any lazy coworker and instead think of what knowledge or skills you have that could help make a difference.
3. Respect your employer’s resources.
Don’t abuse internet privileges, steal paperclips, break headsets, leave trash in the break-room, etc. Don’t ask repeatedly when your bonus check is coming or ask for a raise each month. Respect that your employer has an entirely different perspective on the business you’re in than you do. Honor what they provide you and respect their time and privacy.
4. Compliment your coworkers.
Remember that you spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your family. There is no sense in being irritable. Moreover, if you can muster it be extra friendly. Bring treats on your birthday, compliment someone’s outfit, send thank you emails when someone answers a question or helps you.
5. Get involved.
If your employer participates in community events or offers internal workshops or events, participate! Don’t be a party pooper! Not only will this make your employer (who spent the time and money to host or provide programming) feel valued, it will also help you build friendships with your coworkers and supervisors.
6. Stay organized.
Keep your work space clean and orderly and think with prevention in mind. Should you need to be out sick, your files and procedures should be outlined in enough detail that someone could fill in for you. Also, messiness at your desk is just as poor a representation of you as messiness in your attire. Both speak volumes about the value you place on your image which is ultimately the company’s image too.
7. Pay attention!
Policies and procedures are constantly changing elements of any business. Keep up on your emails and pay attention when you’re advised of changes to internal structure or procedure. Don’t be “that guy” and constantly miss the memos. Nobody likes “that guy.” It’s not funny, it’s annoying.
8. Stay educated.
Depending on your industry, it’s likely that there is a magazine, research publication or web blast available that showcases relevant trends in your business. There may also be free, community workshops highlighting relevant topics. Sign up, read up, listen up and stay informed!
Staying active in your community while utilizing other skills or passions you have outside of work provides cross-training for your “at work” skills and interests. Volunteering also shows your employer that you can multitask; a great skill as the world keeps moving faster and faster!
10. Show your personality.
Don’t be afraid to show who you are through your communications or desk décor (pending corporate allowance). Being a person rather than just a warm body makes a huge difference in day to day interactions as well as your employer’s perception of you when/if the time comes to make cutbacks or promotions. They obviously hired you, so they like you- don’t hide!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Magnificent