12 [Incredibly Easy] Ways to be a Top-Notch Employee
There are plenty of articles, books, and motivational speakers highlighting ways for people to be "Good Employees". But "good" is a relative term. And quite frankly "good" is not GREAT.
Presently, "good" is the bare minimum. It's the average label for someone that can simply be trusted to do their work. Isn’t it time we aimed higher? Isn't it time we aimed for greatness?
This guide will show you we seek to really make a positive impact where you work. Follow these 12 tips and you'll go far beyond good. You'll turn yourself into a top-notch employee your coworkers will emulate, respect, and even admire.
Ready to become a truly great employee?
1. Be Punctual
Practice the art of being on time. People view a punctual person as both dependable and respectful. Your punctuality tells others you are trustworthy, considerate, and prepared.
Being on time gives you a few extra minutes to prepare and plan out your day, meetings, or presentations. Being late leaves you scatterbrained. The stress you feel when constantly running late interferes with your ability to make decisions and perform with precision.
If you struggle with punctuality, learn to set alarms. Lots of them. And if you really struggle, set halfway reminder alarms for that extra nudge. Plan out your day the night before. In fact, write it all down and review it frequently so you're prepared. You can even create a calendar notification.
You have to master how you perceive time. With punctuality, the earlier is always better. The more time you give yourself to arrive, the less likely you are to be late. And if you're one of those people who don't like waiting, bring something to work on while you wait. That way it doesn't feel like you're wasting your day.
2. Focus on Productivity
Productive people get more done with less time. Start your morning with tasks that are the most demanding and require the most focus. This ensures you knock out the most important items before your day gets hectic.
It also pays to know your work habits.
Do you work best in isolation? Or, do you prefer to work in public places? Can you knock out a bunch of work without pause? Or, do you need periodic breaks?
Set up the environment that works best for you. That means eliminating distractions and focusing more on finishing tasks, not staying busy. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can improve productivity.
For example, you can block off an hour in the morning where you do not take calls, answer emails, or schedule meetings. This will give you a chunk of uninterrupted time for you to focus on critical tasks.
The list of tactics you can deploy to increase your efficiency is nearly endless. The 80/20 principle and the Eisenhower Matrix are good examples. These principles help you prioritize tasks and organize them based on importance and urgency.
As mentioned before, make it a habit to plan out your day the night before. A clearly laid-out schedule puts you on a path to productivity and success.
You should also create an if/then plan for if things go wrong. Because eventually, they will... Those "fires" at work always seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times. Plan for interruptions and create contingency plans.
Highly productive people can adapt quickly when unplanned problems present themselves. Disruptions become nothing more than challenges to be overcome without slowing down.
Discover what tasks you tend to repeat and find ways to automate them. Whether you do this with turn-key solutions or something more customized depends on the complexity of your needs and your budget.
If you're in need of complex automations or integrations to streamline your workflows and make your tasks more efficient, low code platforms are a great option. They're easy to learn, customizable, and they help reduce time spent on repetitive and menial tasks while giving you more time to focus on your priorities.
3. Follow Company Procedures and Processes
At any new job, one of your first tasks should be to thoroughly read the policies and procedures provided by your company. You need a complete understanding of what these policies are. This allows you to function at a high level while staying within the guardrails of your organization.
If you're unsure as to why processes are written out the way they are, ask. You can never ask too many questions when it comes to understanding procedures and policies.
Once you've studied the standard operating procedures (SOPs), make sure to follow them. There is nothing worse than an employee going rogue and following their own personal processes.
By following your company's policies, you set a good example for other employees, too. This means you'll need to act professionally, stay on task, and be honest with your time (and others). In the end, following the guidelines will encourage trust from those around you and reduce problems that can arise from violating company policies (even if unintentional).
4. Dress the Part
How you dress plays a critical role in how others perceive you. Dressing professionally in the office will help you project the right image to your clients, co-workers, and even your boss.
The clothes really do make the person.
They affect the behavior, attitude, personality, mood, and confidence of both you and the people around you. Plus, your clothes can impact how you interact with others.
Dressing with confidence doesn’t just cover the clothes you wear. It also affects your overall appearance. Basic hygiene (washing regularly, wearing clean clothes, meeting company standards for hair, etc.) go a long way to influencing those around you.
Imagine this: if it looks like you can't take care of yourself, why would your manager think you could take on more responsibilities?
Dress codes can vary wildly from one industry to the next. That's why it’s important to dress in line with the organization's code and represent the company properly.
Dressing with confidence and in alignment with your business image is a simple action that reinforces your professional competence both internally and externally.
5. Be Positive
At one point or another, you'll find yourself working in a less-than-ideal environment. Negative energy can spread like wildfire from one individual to another. This energy affects productivity in the workplace as well as relationships and trust with others.
A top-notch employee knows how to rise above and turn situations and conversations into a positive atmosphere.
Staying positive does not mean forcing a smile in a less than ideal situation (though that can help).
Staying positive is also an action. You need to discover the root of the negativity and frustration first. Afterward, you can work to create a solution.
When situations aren’t going as planned, many people find themselves in a dark hole (figuratively speaking). Top-notch employees know how to be a light for others in any situation or setting.
If you want to spread your positivity, you need to break down the situation and discover where the negativity comes from. Next, you need to analyze your exit strategies and create a plan on how to improve your environment. Setting goals to fix the situation in addition to creating a plan on how to avoid it in the future is key.
Sometimes, your personal life will have days that start out tough and follow you into your job. Having a plan in place can help avoid going into the office with a less-than-positive attitude.
There are plenty of ways to do that. Set emotional boundaries between your work and personal life. Use your PTO time for a mental health day. If you find yourself going into a negative headspace, take action and do not let it bottle up inside.
Your attitude is the first thing your coworkers, managers, clients, and customers will notice and remember about you. Work hard to keep it positive.
6. Set Work-Life Boundaries
This may be the case for a short while until burnout and resentment kick in.
Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining that balance helps reduce stress and prevent burnout in the workplace. Remember this: you're anything BUT productive once the burnout kicks in.
There is always work to be done. No matter how many hours you decide to put in each week. Focus on what's most important and knock those tasks out first. You can use productivity tools to get more out of each hour. But remember, you can only accomplish so much. Pushing past your limit always does more harm than good in the end.
With the right tools and mindset, you'll leave work on time and spend your evenings with family or participating in the hobbies you love. These activities recharge you. They fill your soul and give you purpose. And that renewed energy (and not to mention inspiration) helps you start each day refreshed and ready for the next challenge.
7. Make Alliances
This isn’t as sinister as it may sound.
Making alliances (or friendships) simply means getting to know the members on your team outside of the small talk and the casual head nods in the hall.
Get to know people from all departments. Whether it’s the individual cleaning the office or your department lead, learn their name and actively listen. This shows respect for your coworkers as individuals and sets the foundation for a long-lasting professional relationship.
If you have some extra bandwidth, reach out and see if they need help. Even the most difficult personalities soften up to that offer. Most people have more work on their plate than they can handle. Reaching out to help shows you understand their struggles and you're willing to work harder to help them out.
Plus, you’d be surprised at what length fellow teammates would go to assist you if they have someone to do the same for them.
8. Avoid Gossip
“Don’t be too fast to highlight the weaknesses of other people. That is the quickest way of exposing your own weaknesses.” ― Israelmore Ayivor
Office gossip is an easy trap to find yourself falling into no matter how far you try to steer clear of it. The "grapevine" will always exist. Regardless of the company size, workplace gossip is just a fact of office life.
But, that doesn't mean you need to participate.
Gossip is a waste of time and productivity. It ruins reputations and creates great anxiety among workers. Plus, it can turn any work environment toxic quickly.
Management should have procedures in place to effectively deal with gossip. These include being transparent with employees, having SOPs in place for employees who gossip, and having both management and human resources coached on how to handle situations involving gossip.
But, that is not always the case.
As a result, gossip runs rampant in some organizations. And one of the best ways to avoid it is to lead by example.
To start, never criticize your superiors or fellow employees. If you find yourself pulled into a conversation where there is criticism of others, speak up. Focus on the positives, and remind others that they do not know the whole story. And you can always try changing the topic to a positive conversation instead.
Learn to identify triggering situations and topics. Train your ear to hear gossip and avoid those situations. When you hear, “I’m going to tell you something but you can’t tell anyone," let that be your cue. Respond with something like, “You probably shouldn’t tell me then. I’m not the best at keeping secrets.”
Still, the safest way to avoid getting caught up in the office chatter is to avoid it altogether.
9. Seek Help
For years, managers have doled out the idea of “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” Perhaps, this was in the hopes of developing employees who are innovative problem-solvers.
As leaders strive to become more empowering, that mindset has shifted. Leadership has moved away from that outdated way of thinking to a more positive outlook. They now know that an employee seeking guidance is one worth having around for the long term.
Little to no knowledge sharing puts your company at risk. And if you don’t ask questions, you're wasting the company's time and money trying to find a solution (that already exists) to a problem.
When employees actively engage in knowledge sharing, they become more engaged at work and build relationships and trust within the organization. “People who ask for help are showing that they’re willing to put their organization in front of their own ego,” states Give and Take’s CEO Larry Freed.
It's also important that you push past your fears. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Realize there is a world of people willing to help you succeed. Many people are flattered if you ask them for advice. You'll make them feel valued as an expert.
Remember: thank those that help. Send an email to show your appreciation, give a shoutout and positive mention to your management team about the person who helped you and how they did it. Or, credit your next success to the knowledge they shared. As long as you take time to appreciate them, you're on the right path.
Asking for help is a certifiable way to achieve growth and knowledge within the company, meet your project deadlines, stay productive, and create trust among your managers and fellow coworkers.
10. Be a Team Player
Being a team player is not optional if you want to succeed in your career. The ability to be an effective team player inevitably leads to greater opportunities and increases your capabilities. But, it's not always easy.
Team players combine their talents and abilities with others to accomplish a specific goal or series of goals. They also:
- Offer help to those coworkers that are overwhelmed or struggling.
- Actively listen to ideas and feedback from others.
- Keep strong communication with coworkers so nothing is missed or assumed.
- Respect others.
- Celebrate teammates' successes.
- Hold themselves accountable and do their part.
- Stay optimistic and future-focused.
A top-notch employee not only understands their job, but they're also aware of what's happening throughout the organization. This can only be achieved through communication and collaboration with others in their organization. In short, by being a team player.
Continuously look for opportunities to work with teams and make valuable contributions. Connect with people. Share insights. And work with others to find solutions. The less isolated you are, the better understanding of your business you'll gain. And you can use that perception to drive changes that make lasting impacts.
11. Identify Inefficiencies
There are inefficient practices in every organization no matter the size. Trying to identify those workflows can be an endless venture. Many managers do not have the bandwidth to dig through the weeds and evaluate their processes for inefficiencies and waste.
This is where a top-notch employee can step in and succeed.
Employees work with processes firsthand. They're the first to find bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and wastes. For example, you may find yourself overwhelmed with how long tasks take or how much unnecessary back and forth exists. You might even notice areas where cost reduction could reduce significant expenses.
As the employee, you're the first-hand defense against waste in your business. The key is to sit back and reexamine how you could streamline the processes in your organization. Evaluate how you work and ask yourself whether or not things could be improved.
Write down what you see and some potential solutions.
Once you've gathered your thoughts, pitch them to your management team. Offer them your take on what you've experienced. Show them the data you've collected. Explain how and why productivity is impacted by these slow processes. You can even volunteer to lead the change if that's something you want to do.
By showing your concern and determination to improve your organization, you set yourself apart as a top-notch employee. And you open the door for your business to leverage better systems to make lasting, organizational change.
12. Never Stop Striving for Self-Improvement
Teachable employees approach every day, every situation, and every criticism as an opportunity to learn and grow. They are highly self-monitoring individuals. And they are open to feedback, easily adjusting to changes in situations.
Many use the excuse that they do not receive much feedback as a reason not to change. It's easier to put the blame on others than take the initiative on your own to change.
It's time to change this stagnant notion.
Go ask for feedback. Ask your boss, co-workers, even friends, about areas you can improve, change, and grow. The key is to listen to that feedback, be open about it, and take it to heart. It's not a personal attack. It's an opportunity to get better.
If you listen to feedback, you'll gain a deeper understanding of who you are and what you need to work on so you can grow. As a result, you'll be a much better employee (and potential leader) in your organization. Feedback may be challenging to take. But, if you're open to it, there's no faster way to grow.
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