We’re pretty much all looking for additional ways to be the absolute best employee we can be. Let’s face it, that’s a great way to climb the career ladder. Being a good employee isn’t something that can be taught at school, however – and it isn’t always easy to convey on a resume either. How your manager and your colleagues view you and your work can make or break your career trajectory. Your first year in a new job can be crucial to future success and opportunities, so you’ll want to make sure that you take full advantage of these tips on being a good employee.
Make no mistake – soft skills matter. That is, skills that are more interpersonal and happen between people are becoming more vital as workforces get increasingly more fluid. You’ll want to brush up on these skills and look to enhance your communication skills too if you’re to be a better employee.
Surviving and getting promoted in corporate America takes more than just luck. You will need to utilize both the soft and hard skills you’ve learned over the years to better assist you in your career goals. Success isn’t guaranteed and is dependent on a variety of factors, but taking the below advice will only help.
Being a Better Employee: What is the Corporate World?
This is a question that gets asked repeatedly – by young professionals, high-school and college students, and people who don’t have much familiarity with corporate businesses. In all honesty, the corporate world is nothing more than a business or group of companies that function as backend, operational providers, and salespeople for main street businesses. The corporate world and is comprised of people who make key decisions which govern guidance, futures, and strategy for their core business solutions.
The corporate world is comprised of individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life. Working in the corporate world means being able to provide an organization with a set of skills it needs to further its own revenue line, growth, or other business-critical. Working in a corporate setting typically requires advanced educational degrees in addition to experience levels, measured in time. Corporate environments usually adhere to unwritten professional structures that cover everything from attire to email etiquette. It’s not a scary world and generally provides a comfortable work atmosphere. If you’re looking for tips to be a good employee, start by figuring out your surroundings and what’s expected of you.
The corporate structure gets divvied up so that individual organizations within the overall corporation manage certain set duties and responsibilities. There are sales, accounting, revenue, marketing, human resources, and business intelligence organizations. All report to the head of the corporation through hierarchical structures. Each organization, or business unit, typically has its own departmental goals and set responsibilities.
Day-to-Day Tips to Be a Good Employee
There are some rules in the corporate world, and adhering to them will go a long way to making you a good employee. Corporate culture can be tricky to master, but with practice, it’s a piece of cake. A lot of this stuff is just common sense, but often, it’s easy to overlook one or two of the basics, so it’s well worth a quick read to make sure you don’t fall foul of business etiquette.
Don’t Be Late
One of the absolute worst ways to get noticed is because you were late. Habitual tardiness will earn you a reputation as someone who is simply unreliable, and you’ll get overlooked for promotions and additional responsibilities. That holds true for getting into work, arriving for a project or task, and even attending a meeting. You never want to be late in any of those instances, and you should always prioritize your workday and tasks to ensure that everything gets completed on time. Being early and not being late demonstrates a level of dependability. Putting in the time and effort to always be on time will yield dividends in the future. You will be the go-to person and known as someone capable around the office.
When you are running late to work, and it’s unavoidable, concentrate on damage limitation! It’s always best to give your direct manager a heads-up, whether that’s via a text message or an email, a simple apology and estimated time of arrival should suffice. Just make sure not to bring that morning cup of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts when you do arrive!
Be Early Instead
The single most straightforward way to get noticed at work is to be early. It’s really that simple. You should strive to be fifteen minutes early to the office every day and take the additional time to compose yourself, check-in on emails, and make your morning joe. Being early to work almost always gets noticed by upper management, as they are typically in the office well before time too. Also, by being early, you give yourself some downtime to unwind from your commute. You can begin your day on a more relaxed note. On top of that, turning in projects and tasks days in-advance goes a long, long way with supervisors because it makes their job easier.
Be a Team Player
Nobody succeeds by themselves. When finishing a project or task, be generous, and give credit where credit is due. Management is about inclusivity; it’s about bringing people together to accomplish a goal. If co-workers know that you will give credit, they will be more likely to return the favor and help you succeed. Your manager will look to see how well you work with your colleagues, both internally and externally. Showing that you are inclusive and work hard at combining with everyone will get you far.
Too often, employees wait for work to be handed to them. Rather than waiting for a project or an issue to arise, begin digging into currently set procedures and see if you can enhance the workflow. Your manager may be extremely busy and may simply forget to include you. You should be vocal, in a professional and respectful manner, asking for additional responsibilities. Identifying, troubleshooting, and resolving an issue on your own shows management that you have leadership qualities, are capable, and can be trusted.
Never Stop Learning
The best employees aren’t the ones who know everything; they are the ones who go out and learn everything they can. No-one can know or understand a whole business or organization, but having the drive to continue learning and bettering yourself will pay dividends later on.
Adapt, Don’t Be Stubborn
Things change. In fact, they’re always changing – and that’s even more true in the corporate world. You have to have a mindset that is adaptable and willing to roll with the turn of events. Though something may not be on your job description, you should be flexible and accommodating and complete any tasks handed to you.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
Your manager has a tight schedule, and even getting some face-to-face time with him or her may be difficult. When you do meet, the conversation topics may hover around projects. They will not know all of the intimate details of your day-to-day and it is up to you to bring important details to their attention.
Managers have a slew of projects, tasks, and responsibilities they are handling. If you want to stand out, you must let them know what you are working on and what your accomplishments are. Keeping a running file, broken out weekly, of tasks and projects completed is a helpful start. You’ll want to be detail-oriented. Include who you worked with, the impact of the project or task, and any revenue aspects related to it. In addition, send a quick synopsis email, showing how your contributions to a project assisted in its completion. Don’t be shy to boast about your accomplishments, but you don’t want to over-embellish or lie either. Be proud of your work and bring it to your manager’s attention. He or she will be thankful for your contributions and may place you on more important, high-profile projects.
Be a Manager Without the Title
I once had an employee who had been in the same position, under four different managers, for nearly a decade. He yearned to be promoted and was unsure why he was consistently overlooked while others around him were promoted. During our first one-on-one, I asked him to bring me a list of roles and responsibilities he had for the upcoming month. In looking through the list, I saw that his duties were static in nature. Essentially, he was doing the same thing over-and-over each week. Though his work was good, he didn’t show any improvement or initiative. I tasked him with looking to see what his senior colleagues were accomplishing and to attempt to take a task off their list. I was essentially asking him to put himself in a senior associate’s shoes and accomplish one of their functions. Once he was able to perform senior members’ tasks, it was straightforward and simple to get him the promotion. You, too, must show your current manager that you can accomplish and succeed in a senior role to be promoted and move up the corporate ladder.
Tips to be a good employee: Remember business etiquette
The business and professional world is filled with a ton of subtle, unspoken rules regarding etiquette and manners. Nobody wants to work with someone who consistently breaks these rules and is viewed as rude and unprofessional. Although many of the rules seem to be common sense, you would be surprised by the number of times I’ve seen them broken. In fact, with more and more companies opting for a more relaxed workplace environment, some of these rules need to be mentioned more often.
Though they may seem antiquated and old-fashioned, business etiquette, and etiquette in general, is about customer service and providing a presentable and respectable face of the company.
Stand When Being Greeted
This is a common mistake I see in the workplace. When being introduced to someone or meeting someone for the first time, it’s best to stand and greet them. You don’t want to awkwardly shake someone’s hand while you’re sitting down, forcing them to bend over and greet you.
Give A Firm Handshake and Make Eye Contact
Handshakes are still the go-to when meeting or greeting someone. Make sure you give a firm handshake while meeting someone and look them directly in the eyes while offering a warm, inviting smile.
Greet and Introduce Yourself to Everyone
When you enter a meeting or a room full of other people, it’s best to introduce yourself and shake everyone’s hand. That allows you to introduce yourself. When doing that, I always prefer to give my full name, and I recommend you do the same.
Always Introduce Individuals
On the same theme, you should never assume that employees or individuals know one-another already. If speaking with a few people, make sure that everyone gets appropriately introduced. In addition to that, throwing in a few positive traits, such as, “This is Robert, he is a Project Manager on my team. Honestly, he is one of the best project managers we’ve ever had” will allow individuals to feel more comfortable when speaking to new people.
Pay Attention to Names and Pronouns
Take the time to remember each person’s name. If you missed their name or are unsure how to pronounce it, it’s fine to genuinely and politely ask. You should only call people how they refer to themselves. Someone named Michael may prefer to be addressed as such, so don’t just assume that you can call them Mike.
Avoid Social Media in the Office
You can definitely check your social media accounts if you have some downtime, but you should absolutely avoid posting anything to a social network from work.
Don’t Be the First Person at the Food Line
When in a meeting where food has been catered, you should never be the first person in line. Instead, allow the organizer or someone more senior to for first, breaking the ice.
If you happen to go to a work outing or business lunch, remember your etiquette. When attending an event or client meeting at a restaurant, you shouldn’t overorder. Limit the amount, especially when it comes to alcohol.
In a similar vein, when meeting at a restaurant for a work-event, you should never overspend. A good rule of thumb is not to order an item more expensive than the most senior member at the table. So, if your manager orders something that costs $25, you should limit yourself to that price point.
Be Cautious with Alcohol
While alcohol is a social lubricant, it should be consumed carefully at work-events. Never drink too much, especially when it is offered at no charge. When meeting with clients, if you notice that none of them ordered any alcoholic beverages, neither should you.
Avoid Using Your Phone at the Table
You should place your phone on silent and be committed to the conversation. You can take a peek every so often to ensure there are no emergencies, but you should avoid it as much as you can.
If You Made the Invite, Pay the Bill
This is for more formal invitations and doesn’t cover casual lunches. However, if you invite co-workers, colleagues, or clients to lunch or dinner, then the expectation is that you will pay the bill for the party.
Dress and Look Professional
Professional dress has changed over the years, but you should attempt to mimic your manager’s attire or the senior members on your team. Your clothing should always be clean, wrinkle-free, and fit your body correctly. It should be presentable but not flashy. For men, closed-toe shoes are a must. If you have facial hair, consider whether it’s within the bounds of acceptable standards for your specific place of work.
Avoid Vulgar Talk
You should absolutely avoid vulgar or indecent conversations and talk. Never pass on rumors and steer clear of office gossip. When sending emails, always be professional and utilize correct grammar and punctuation. Don’t use emojis or “text speak”. Address everyone individually when emailing a group of three or less. More than three individuals on an email chain can be addressed as a group.
Clean-Up After Yourself and Others
Don’t think you are above anyone due to title or pay grade. Always clean-up after yourself, no matter what.
Keep Your Workspace Clean and Neat
Every month you should deep clean your desk and office space. Keep everything tidy and tuck away any items that you don’t use.
We’re not saying don’t be cordial and build relationships with your co=workers, but they really don’t need to know every intimate detail of your personal life. Avoid discussing too much. Only share what you would feel comfortable being shared with everyone in the office is a good rule of thumb.
Be Mindful of What You Bring to the Office
Whether it’s a particularly pungent smell from last night’s dinner or an offensive piece of clothing, you should always be mindful of what you bring to the office and how others may react.
Use Your Inside Voice
Be respectful to everyone in the office. Don’t yell, shout, or speak loudly.
Take Personal Calls Away from Your Desk
We all get or make personal calls at work. However, you should avoid making those calls from your desk. Instead, find a quiet room away from others to conduct your calls.
Don’t Smoke Outside of the Office
If you smoke, whether that’s cigarettes or vaping, you should do so away from the office entrances. Try to go to the side of the building or find a designated smoking area.
Avoid the Big Three
The big three topics have always been religion, politics, and sex. You should never discuss, or at least, you should avoid touching on these three topics at work.
Don’t Walk into Someone’s Office Unannounced
Don’t assume that an open door is an open invitation. You should always knock and ask if they are available. If the discussion will last longer than ten minutes, it is better to send a formal meeting invite to confirm they have the time.
Conclusion: Tips to Be a Good Employee
Being a better employee isn’t difficult, and every single one of us can benefit from taking the time out to improve. At the end of the day, you need to get it done, and reading our tips to be a good employee is an excellent place to start. Take everything back to basics and ensure that you fully understand your role’s fundamentals and the standards of behavior expected within corporate America. To be the best employee at your workplace, you will want to get everything you’re assigned completed but also help with additional tasks and projects. Making yourself invaluable, and knowing that recognition will come in due time is critical to future success.
Keep in mind that the office is meant to be a professional environment. It’s a place of business where everyone should be treated equally and with respect. You should be careful never to offend, whether intentionally or not.