Why You’re There
In order to perform at the maximum on your job, you need to first have an excellent grasp of why you’re there in the first place. If you are only there to clock in and out, collect a paycheck and advance no further, then it would be a good idea to take a broader look. You may wish to advance up the ranks and achieve a managerial position. You may look upon your current employment as preparation for entrepreneurship, or as a learning experience for a position in another company you have your sights on. You may have a genuine personal passion for what you do that goes far beyond monetary reward.
A Climate of Instability
An unstable economic climate can make holding and keeping your job a constant struggle for survival. Another factor that affects your job is your superiors’ and co-workers’ knowledge – or lack thereof – of the subject of administration. Then there’s basic common sense, communication skills and an understanding of human behavior – far too many lack these as well. Getting fired for no particular reason, people around you quitting without warning, and a slew of other workplace disasters are all pretty commonplace in our volatile work-a-day world.
Building Your Skills
These factors and many more make survival on the job a formidable task. But regardless, if you’re on the job you should be good at what you do. Whether it’s a stepping stone or what you want to do for the rest of your life, it’s your job at least for now. No matter the circumstance, your prosperity is based in no small measure on your knowledge, your skills and your ability to adapt. Here are some ways to do great at work or in any sphere of activity:
Complete Each Task You Start
When you start an individual job, see that all its steps are done and complete it. The same goes for projects that have many steps. An incomplete job or project isn’t much good to anyone. It is true that you must often drop what you’re doing to attend to pressing business, but at the nearest opportunity, finish what you started. You’ll gain a reputation as someone who works conscientiously, and you’ll feel better about your work and yourself.
Handle & Report
Anyone who’s ever been a boss knows it can get a bit stressful. It is very helpful when people report back when something is done and provide valuable information. This does not mean you must provide continual “progress reports” or demands for decisions. Anyone in a company who makes a habit of completing tasks and handling situations, and then reporting what is done and handled, is an asset to that company. Too many people make a point of dumping a bunch of problems on a superior or an associate. You need not be one of them. Build a reputation as someone who gets things done and reports back.
Want to impress people? Get organized. All too often people’s version of “organized” is to stuff the papers in a drawer and forget about them. Having a place for everything and putting things back after use is a good start. Keeping a tray system for in-progress work, a labeled file system that can be used for easy reference, and having your needed tools at arms’ reach all contribute to organization and efficiency. When you get a piece of paper, do you set it down to be “taken care of later” only to wind up with papers scattered all over your office? Or do you handle the document right then and there, and then file it or send it to the right person? It may seem like a small point, but it is not. Neglect of the little things adds up to big disasters. This goes for your computer files and emails as well.
Plan Your Day
Plan your day as well as your week and even your month. List out what you wish to get done today. Start with the urgent and pressing issues. Make sure to include steps that correspond with what your company is attempting to do as an overall strategy. Put a line next to each action. When you complete an action, mark the line with a checkmark or a “DONE”. I doubt anyone you’re working with does this. Such a daily plan sets you apart, keeps you focused and able to get more accomplished.
By “statistic” I mean measurement of your productivity, how many phone calls, interviews, units sold, deliveries made, etc. Metrics and analytics in online marketing is another example. By tracking the numbers, you can remedy those factors that impede expansion and reinforce that which contributes to expansion. Managing by hearsay and rumor is not only useless, but destructive. The facts and the numbers tell the true story.
Write Down What You Do
If you’ve been on job a while and know what you’re doing, the management (if they know what they’re doing) have no intention of letting you go. If you get a better job offer somewhere else, there can be friction. They don’t want to lose you and get upset when you leave. There is a way to fix this and smooth things out besides the usual two-week notice.
Write up everything you do: your daily routine, how you go about things, the technical details, who you see for what, and the peculiarities of your job. That way your successor has a written record of the job. The management can eventually work these things into stable company policy if they wish. You can even apprentice your replacement if time allows. These actions have the added benefit of helping to maintain amicable relations with a former employer, a connection which can pay off later.
Be a Team Member
The company loves the “company man” but the worker does not always concur. The company man – in the negative sense – leaves the worker behind or even throws him unjustly under the bus. There is however nothing whatsoever wrong with being a team player. The malcontent is not a team player. He’s trying to bring the team down. Team members get along with each other. They let one another know what is going on. They, in a word, coordinate. They are almost telepathic in how they know what the other fellow is doing and thinking. They are friends, comrades-in-arms, if you will. Being on a real team is a rewarding experience.
Efficiency doesn’t just mean saving time and money. Efficiency breaks down into three major points:
- Physical Layout
The first, speed, is pretty simple. It means quick and accurate customer service, transportation and just plain moving fast from point A to point B. The second, skill, includes how you do things, technical expertise and the ratio of time to motion. The third, physical layout, includes the building itself, equipment used and geographic location. Things like the computer programs you use, and how you use them, fall under all three points. If you can wrap your wits around these things, you can see how to improve your job and your department. You can be a better employee and even start your own company.
Awareness of Spending
Any employee should be aware of how to save money. Just because you are not the GM, doesn’t mean you should be oblivious of waste, saving and spending. Many employees conceive they are just cogs in the wheel of a mighty machine. But I do not subscribe to that philosophy. I believe everyone is important, and the so-called small details can make or break a company. Everyone’s input counts and that includes how to avoid waste and spend more wisely.
Check Your Own Work
Don’t assume someone else will check to see if you did a good job. When you submit something, you should have already checked it over to make sure it is up to snuff. Any company ought to have quality controls, but you should always nonetheless do your own quality control. People will start to get the idea that when you hand it in, it’s DONE and is of high quality. There is another side of the coin: The person who is so obsessed with quality that they never get it done or it’s always late. So there is balance to reach and a judgment factor.
The Buck Stops Here
In a bureaucracy, an employee gets a request, sends it to someone else, and a week later it comes back for him to handle, at which point he sends it to another department! This is lunacy. People should be responsible for specific things. If you get something and it’s someone else’s job, give it to that person. That person should then handle it. If something is your job, you handle it. If there is confusion as to who handles a specific thing, take it up at the next meeting so it can get sorted out. “The buck stops here” means responsibility. A staff that exemplifies responsibility will take a company to the next level.