We always talk about managing our own career and the need to make things happen for yourself.
A good friend of mine, business book author Don Phin, recently produced a series of videos about what employees can actively do to excel in their jobs. They were so well done that I want you to hear what he had to say.
Follow Don’s guidelines below and you will be favorably noticed by management. The effort spent will move your career along faster than you ever thought possible.
1) Be trustworthy
Trust is the most important fabric in any relationship and for employees, that equation is based on two essential factors.
First comes skills and knowledge.
Generally, this is something you can be tested for. For example, half of the JAVA programmers are more skilled than the other half. Without proper testing, you’ll never know how your own job performance stacks up.
The second part of the trust conversation centers on desire, motivation, and engagement. If you lack desire, what good are your skills? Remind yourself that it’s your choice whether to have a positive attitude or not.
Then ask yourself to define how you are doing in these critical trust factors:
· Accountability: You understand your job
· Responsibility: The buck stops with you
· Honesty: You’re willing to do the “right thing”
· Integrity: You do what you say you’ll do
· Confidentiality: You keep private what should be
2) Be productive
In Don’s executive workshops, he often has a CEO invite their HR executive to be a guest. Then they both go through a simple exercise.
He asks them to take out a blank sheet of paper and write down what each believes are the three most important strategic objectives of that HR executive.
He has them show their lists to each other. Guess what? They rarely match.
Getting yourself on the same page as the company is where to start. Whether you call it bottom-line results, objectives, key indicators or some other name, what quality and quantity benchmarks define great results for you? Are they the same as the company’s?
All employers want their employees to be responsible for their performance. They want you to know your job, and know whether you are succeeding or failing, without having to be asked or without having to be told, because you understand your job so well.
To be productive, make sure you manage your time, follow performance agreements, and focus on results.
3) Have a plan with goals
As Mary Kay Ash famously said, “Most people plan their vacations better than their careers.”
And this is true. When people don’t have a plan for their career, they are working in what Don calls “the gray zone.” That’s not who I want working for me.
He encourages employees to define short-term performance goals (90 days) and longer-term career goals (3 to 5 years out). He also stresses the importance of having defined deadlines and provided tools they can use for long-term career planning and short-term, 90-day “rolling” plans.
4) Keep learning
It is a sad fact that only a handful of employees make a concerted effort to educate themselves once they’ve graduated from school.
Many do the same job, at the same level, year after year. Given tight budgets and time constraints, many employers have backed off their training initiatives which further reduces continuing education.
To combat that, Don likes to remind employees of one of the great truths of success — to earn more, learn more. And doing so is the employee’s responsibility.
5) Be a team player
Like life itself, running a business with at least one employee and more is a team sport. Same with being an employee. Helping foster a spirit of teamwork gives your fellow employees a sense of belonging to a bigger cause than themselves.
Cooperation, collaboration, and contribution really do work wonders.
There it is, a condensed version of Don Phin’s Holy Grail of career success.
If you are in management, what will you do to help employees embrace these truths? If you are an employee, what are you waiting for?
Phil Blair, co-founder of Manpower San Diego and author of “Job Won;” [email protected]