We all want to be thought of as good employees, but if we really want to fulfill our career aspirations, then we need to push ourselves to be the best that we can be!
After all, if we only do the minimum required of us, we probably won't get very far. So, if you've set your sights on world domination (or perhaps just that promotion you've always wanted), use these 18 tips to make it a reality.
People skills are one of the most sought-after competencies valued by employers. When you work well with others, it improves productivity, creativity and job satisfaction. So, let's kick-start our top tips list by looking at what you can do to become a better people person.
Being able to communicate well – in person and in writing – is an essential skill in most workplaces. But, it's also one that is often forgotten about. In fact, a study from the National Commission on Writing reveals that blue chip companies spend as much as $3.1 billion on writing training.
The ability to express yourself eloquently can mean the difference between getting noticed and being overlooked. Write a bad email and all anyone will remember is your poor grammar. But write one that is clear, concise and interesting, and you'll likely find that people will respond to your messages quickly and positively.
People skills are as important in the workplace as technical ability. These kind of "interpersonal skills" can help you to collaborate, communicate, manage conflict, motivate, increase productivity, solve problems, and network.
When you have good working relationships you'll likely be more happy and engaged at work, too. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that positive workplace relationships can help you to avoid burnout, exhaustion and even loneliness.
It can be all too easy to "tune out" sometimes. Whether you're really focused and "in flow," or you're easily distracted by emails and other minor tasks, maybe you just aren't paying enough attention to the person who's talking to you. Whatever the case, you're not alone. It seems that most of us aren't great listeners. Indeed, research suggests that we remember between just 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear!
But listening is vital if you want to succeed at work. It can help you to take in information, learn from others, build relationships, and take direction. Active listening is one of the ways you can improve your ability to listen. It involves making a conscious effort to hear not only the words someone is saying, but the key messages that they are trying to express.
If you're lucky, you'll have a boss that you respect, like and admire. Alternatively, you may have one who, for whatever reason, you just don't "click" with. If this happens, it can have a significant impact on your happiness and your productivity.
Ultimately, the onus is on you to make the relationship work. Your boss will likely have several other people to manage, so his or her relationship with you may not always be at the top of his list. But it should be at the top of yours! Find out more about his preferred management style. Then, adapt your own working style to suit it. Does he like to receive information in person, or does he prefer email? How does he handle bad news? Does he like to micromanage people or is he happy to delegate tasks?
When you take the initiative, you take control of your career. This might be as simple as learning to organize your workload effectively. Or, it could be more complex – for example, seeking out new opportunities and understanding the purpose behind the work you do. Here are some tips for doing this:
With so many demands on your time, it's easy to get distracted and lose sight of your main goals. Start each day by prioritizing your To-Do List, and focusing your attention on the top three items. This helps you to manage your time effectively, and to concentrate on the objectives that matter the most. And, if you're really "swamped," don't be afraid to ask for help, to delegate tasks, or even to say "no" sometimes.
Feeling comfortable and confident in a job likely means that you're doing it well. But, if you're finding it all too easy, you may begin to feel bored and unfulfilled.
Sure, you could carry on and "coast" your way through. But this won't improve matters in the long run. Instead, set yourself some new goals. Learn a new skill, go on a training course, or ask your boss for more responsibility. Not only will you be pegged as a "self starter," you'll also get the chance to broaden your skills, and to engage in new ways of thinking. It may even open up opportunities to work on different projects and with different people.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is – unsurprisingly – uncomfortable! You might feel exposed, or worry that you'll look stupid. However, if you avoid taking opportunities when they present themselves, you'll never know just how far you can go.
Yes, doing something new can be scary. It might also mean more pressure and more work. But, it can also push you to perform better. It can make you more resilient, give you the flexibility to take risks and cope with unexpected problems, and help you to overcome fear of failure.
Do you know why you do the work that you do? What its purpose is or how it impacts your company's bottom line?
Understanding how the work that you do benefits your organization can improve your performance. It adds purpose to your work, helps you to prioritize your tasks more effectively, and enables you to identify tasks or areas of the business that can be made more efficient.
It's never too late to learn a new skill. In fact, building up your knowledge and skills is often a lifetime pursuit. So, start your learning journey today! Use the following tips to get you started:
Having a specialized skill or excelling in a particular task can put you "in demand." Even more so if you have deep knowledge of a subject that is highly sought after – for instance, data science, cybersecurity or cloud computing.
Being the "go-to" person for a particular task or topic can enhance your reputation and allow you to help others. It can also lead to opportunities to work on high-profile tasks, and may even result in promotion. But remember that building expertise takes dedication and resolve. So, be prepared to put the time in!
Rapid advances in technology, along with global political and financial developments, mean that change is fast-paced and unpredictable. And, if you don't make an effort to keep up with these changes, it can result in missed opportunities or getting left behind.
Combat this by making it a priority to stay up-to-date with your industry. Join a trade organization, attend trade shows or conferences, read blogs, and connect with industry leaders and colleagues on social media sites like LinkedIn or Twitter.
We live in an age of distractions. Email, social media, instant messaging, office politics, unnecessary meetings… even the weather! All of these things can cause you to lose focus on the tasks that really matter. In fact, a 2017 survey revealed that a third of employees are distracted for up to three hours a day. This adds up to a whopping 60 hours of time lost "dawdling" every month.
Sure, it might be hard to ignore the 150 WhatsApp messages that you've just received. But, if you really want to produce quality work, you and your phone will need to part ways (temporarily at least). This is where "deep work" can help. It involves pushing distractions to one side, and giving yourself the time and space to really focus on challenging and complicated tasks. This has a number of benefits. For example, it can help you to build expertise and knowledge, and give you a greater sense of fulfillment and achievement.
What qualities make you a true professional? Is it the way you dress? Your charismatic charm? Or, is it your ability to learn from your mistakes? Take a look at our tips on what it takes to be the best professional:
We've all had that sudden sinking feeling when we realize that we've made a mistake. But it's how you handle these "bloopers" that really matters. Do you, for instance, tend to "run for the hills" and hope that no one notices? Pass the blame onto someone else? Or, do you "fess up" and do your best to remedy the situation?
It can be hard to swallow your pride and take ownership of the mistakes that you make. But, it is only by doing this that you will ultimately learn from them.
It can be difficult to hear criticism, particularly when it's unexpected. But, if you don't get any feedback at all, you may begin to wonder whether your work is valued or even noticed.
Why not take the initiative? Ask for feedback from managers and colleagues. Not only will you be seen as a proactive member of the team, but the advice and insight that they provide will likely help you to improve your performance, too.
Your reputation is what you're known for. It encompasses your personality, your skills, your values and your temperament.
It can take time and effort to build up a good reputation, but just moments to destroy it. This means that you need to put the work in if you want to protect and maintain it. Do this by carrying out a Personal SWOT analysis to assess your skills, and to create a plan for developing the professional traits and abilities that you want to be known for.
You don't have to be a manager to be a leader. And, in fact, many businesses want people to demonstrate leadership skills, even when they are employed in junior roles. So, why not tap into your leadership potential today by following the tips, below:
One of the major "pain points" for businesses is the lack of leadership skills that people have – even those who are in senior or highly technical roles. In fact, a 2017 survey from the CIPD revealed that half of HR directors would like to see candidates for management positions show greater leadership skills.
So, if you've set your sights on a promotion, why wait? Start preparing today by broadening your skill set to include strategy, problem solving, soft skills, and negotation skills. And acquaint yourself with different leadership styles, such as Transformational Leadership, Action Centered Leadership and Adaptive Leadership.
Have you ever completed a piece of work that you were really proud of, only for it to go unnoticed?
Feeling as though your work isn't valued or even acknowledged can be deeply demoralizing and frustrating. But, there are ways you can improve your visibility at work. You can build a strong network of allies, inside and outside your organization, for instance. You can also track your accomplishments, take on additional responsibilities, or find a mentor that you respect and want to learn from.
Wherever your career takes you, and whatever role or organization you find yourself in, the one constant will be you. So, cherish your uniqueness, stand up for your values and beliefs, and always be yourself! The following tips can help you to do just that:
17. Learn How to Cope With Stress
It can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts sometimes, particularly if you've made a mistake, received some poor feedback, or work in a high-pressure job. But, real problems can occur if you allow these thoughts to take over, such as low self-confidence, poor self-esteem, or even depression and anxiety. All of these things can impact your productivity and performance – setting the whole cycle in motion once again.
Remember that setbacks and stress are a part of everyone's life. You can either crumple under the pressure or find strategies to help you cope. These strategies could include mindfulness, affirmations or cognitive restructuring.
Most of all, know when to stop. It can be hard to switch off, particularly when you're surrounded by "always on" devices, like smartphones or tablets. But learning how to relax – really relax – will help you to recharge, stay calm and avoid burnout.
Pretending to be someone else or being a "yes man" (or woman) can be exhausting, confining and demoralizing. It can also hold you back from reaching your true potential. Conversely, staying true to yourself and your values means that you can express your thoughts and ideas more confidently. It can also give you a reputation for integrity, and help you to earn the trust and respect of your peers.
Yes, it may mean "going against the grain" and taking the harder road sometimes. But it also allows you to live a more authentic and, ultimately, more rewarding life.
What tips do you have for being the best you? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
"There are many irritating people out there: from the story one-uppers and interrupters to the lazy good-for-nothings, know-it-alls, and lip-smackers. In fact, you may even work with a few of them." - Rosie Robinson
I'm going to start with a confession. There have been some points in my life where I've avoided speaking out when I really should have. One such time, when I was young (16 or 17), I saw a local shopkeeper getting harassed by a group of three young girls. I knew the shopkeeper... had often […]
It's natural to have a moment of doubt when you take that great leap into the unknown: a feeling new managers know all too well.
I am really excited to join mindtool and improve my career, I am Sales executive in one of the biggest medical laboratory international company and lot of expectations from high management on me, I need to improve my skills in order get promotions and boost my career for my future, but what holds me is really I don't know where to start, perhaps you can advise or guide me which course I should attend and how it's worked.
Hi Tariq and welcome!
Thanks for introducing yourself and it great to see that you want to improve your professional and personal knowledge and skills. Some people focus on one skill area and go through all our resources whereas other people select resources depending on their current needs. So, it depends on how you want to approach your learning here.
You may have already checked out our membership club which gives you access to even more resources. If you haven't seen it yet, here is a link with more details: https://www.mindtools.com/signup/monthly/usd?trackingtag=jointr#
We are always around and happy to help so just let us know.
Mind Tools Team
Thanks for sharing this amazing post. I love all your suggestion really helpful to improve our self better at work. I will discuss this post and hope many others will get helped by it.
Thanks David for your feedback and for for sharing the ideas with others.
I agree with you.
Life isn’t about comparing ourselves with what everyone else is doing or how they are behaving to try to defeat them. Especially in this generation, we use social media to compete between us and show off our “personal perfect lifes”.
Instead, we should compare ourselves with ourselves and our personal progress, whether academically, professionally, personally, socially or even physically, always be positive and try to give our best in everything everyday.
Thanks Valeria for sharing your thoughts on being our best. I agree that we should only compare ourselves with ourselves. Everyone has different capacities and different journeys. When we give our best in whatever we do, we are a success!
I believe you gave me good advise. I struggle with stress in my life. Your advise is very encouraging, inspiring in my life today. I need to let go, because learning is a lifetime goal.
We're glad you found this post useful and encouraging. Please let us know if there are any other areas in which we could help. Our Mind Tools Club forum is a great place to pose questions and interact with other members.
Mind Tools Coach
Iam really glad that you made this topic, i have a discussion with my colleagues about this very topic.
It has given me tips on how to be the best i can be at my workplace and to the people around me.
Thank you so much
Hi, Alice, I'm happy the content resonated with you and that it's helped you in workplace situations. Thank you for sharing your feedback.
I want to have a career in business administration and finance, so I want to get myself properly trained by joining specific programs curated for them. It's good that you advised us to challenge ourselves regularly by setting new goals to accomplish and learning new skills to broaden our opportunities. I'll keep this advice in mind while I look for career training programs to consider.
Hi, Anna, I'm happy you've found our content useful and good luck with achieving your goals and learning new skills to attract new opportunities you seek. Zala - MT Coach