To improve your job satisfaction, job security, and future work prospects, you’ll need to do things that make you stand out—in a good way—to your employer.
Develop Your Core Skills and Traits
To be a valued employee, you have to be seen as someone who adds value. You can add value to your organization in many ways. Start by thinking about how you show up on the job.
6 ways to stand out at work
How you show up at work every day is important. Are you reliable? Respectful? Positive? Do you try hard? Do you get along well with your co-workers?
Your answers to these kinds of questions shape your reputation on the job—and your potential value to your organization. To build a good reputation, follow these 6 tips.
1. Be reliable and dependable
- Show up for every one of your shifts. If you’re going to be absent, let your supervisor know as soon as possible.
- Be on time—always. This is important whether you’re arriving for work, returning from breaks, going to staff meetings, or completing tasks.
- Be prepared. Come to work willing to pay attention, follow directions, try hard, and do the job to the best of your ability.
- Check the quality of your work. It shows you care.
- Follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do.
- Keep your work and your workspace organized, even if you work from home. This habit shows you’re in control of what you’re doing.
Showing up is important: An employer’s story
A manufacturer in Red Deer, who hires workers and trains them on the job, takes pride in recruiting young workers and offering them their first well-paying job.
“My biggest frustration is people who don’t show up,” he says. “I hired one young man who had real talent, but he missed 29 days out of his first 67 days on the job. He left me with no choice but to let him go. I’m pretty flexible, but how could we work anything out if he didn’t show up?”
2. Be proactive
- Show interest. Learn all you can about the organization and your specific role.
- Know your job. Learn how to do all the tasks that are part of your job.
- Take initiative. Contribute without being asked. Just make sure you’re not stepping on someone else’s toes.
- Be accountable. Take responsibility for your actions. Admit any mistakes you make so you can learn from them.
- Develop and share a skill. For example, you might become the person everyone goes to for help with a computer program or with proofreading important emails.
- Look for ways to be more efficient. For example, learn the shortcuts for a computer program you use, or how to print double-sided documents.
3. Be a team player
- Step up. Take on the task that needs to be done.
- Be cooperative. Work with others and do what you can to help everyone achieve shared goals.
- Jump at the chance to help a co-worker on a project. You’ll learn something new and earn a reputation as a helpful employee.
- Ask for help when you need it. It’s important to do things right and to stay safe on the job.
- Share information and resources. It’s a natural way to earn respect.
- Support and encourage your co-workers. Be the one who others look up to.
- Respect diversity. Every workplace benefits from a range of people, opinions, and experiences.
- Be open-minded. Try to see challenges and tasks from a co-worker’s point of view.
4. Be flexible and adaptable
- Go easy on yourself and others. It’s good to have high expectations, but understand that you can’t control everything.
- Be open to compromise. There is usually more than one way to do things right.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Things don’t always go according to plan, so plan to adapt.
- Be open to feedback. Other people’s opinions might be helpful.
- Keep learning. It will help you handle change.
- Try new ways of doing things. A new approach just might improve your performance.
- Have strategies for dealing with stress. Change can be stressful, so how you manage stress impacts how you manage change.
5. Be appropriate
- Work safely. Know the health and safety hazards and regulations in your workplace and follow them.
- Know your limits. Recognizing what you don’t know is a sign of personal strength and maturity.
- Dress appropriately. Wear proper attire for the work you’ve been hired to do.
- Be courteous. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
- Live up to your values. Be truthful and honest. Maintain your integrity.
- Avoid dating co-workers. Your workplace should be free from relationship drama.
6. Be positive
- Show respect. Always respect yourself and others.
- Work with confidence. Believe in your ability to do your job well.
- Be polite and friendly. Smiles are contagious.
- Avoid complaining or gossiping. Negativity about your co-workers or employer is toxic. No good can come from it.
- Expect positive results. You won’t be surprised when you get them!
Add value by helping your organization succeed
Your employer is investing in you. Think about what more you can do to prove you’re a good investment.
- What does your organization want to do? For example, does it want to increase profits, improve quality, reduce losses, or ensure customer satisfaction?
- How can you help the organization achieve those goals?
- Are there any changes you can make that add value?
Small changes can make a big difference
Think about a restaurant server who decides to start carrying a coffee pot with them as they visit tables. The coffee pot used to stay at the coffee station. Now, the server is able to top up cups along the way.
This change speeds up service, keeps customers happy, and increases the number of customers the restaurant can serve. Happy customers come back again and again. They bring their friends. They tell others.
The server’s decision to carry the coffee pot is helping the restaurant achieve its goals.
Make changes that add value
Adding value almost always involves change. It involves thinking about and doing things differently.
Communicate any changes—before, during, and after—to make sure things go smoothly:
- Talk to your supervisor about what you’d like to do before doing it. Things may be done in a specific way for a reason.
- Ask your supervisor to support you in learning new skills.
- Tell your co-workers what you’re doing. Ask for their input.
- Ask your customers and suppliers if they like the changes.
- Listen to feedback and use it to improve.
Make the changes you can, and know that you can learn from every experience.
You benefit when you add value
When you add value to your organization, both you and your employer benefit. You gain knowledge, learn new skills, and use more of your talents and abilities. You’ll enjoy your job more. You’ll feel good.
When you shine at work, you’re also investing in your future. Your employer will appreciate your efforts, opening the door to promotions and earning you a glowing reference if the time comes for you to move on.