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Working Wise - Shine at Work

Dear Working Wise,

I work for a great company and I want to make it into a career. Do you have any tips for catching your boss’s eye as a promising up-and-comer?
Signed, Ambitious

April 26, 2017

Dear Ambitious,

It’s difficult to provide a specific answer to your question, because supervisor expectations of employees vary by industry and occupation. Talk to your manager about your career aspirations and get their advice. Talking to your manager may also help them to see you in a new light and get them thinking about how they can help develop you.

That said, there are some things you can do that are appreciated by most leaders. You can stand out from the crowd and shine at work by adopting the following positive habits.

Be Reliable

  • Be honest and trustworthy.
  • Be on time and maintain good attendance.
  • Call if you’re going to be late or can’t make it to work.
  • Keep your promises and complete your tasks on time.
  • Don’t take extended breaks or abuse your sick days.
  • Stay healthy – physically and mentally.

Be Professional

  • Dress appropriately—professional and up-to-date.
  • Keep your skills and training current.
  • Double-check the quality of your own work.
  • Stay organized and keep your work area tidy.
  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Know your job and how to do it properly.
  • Be respectful, for example, no cell phone or side conversations in meetings.
  • Avoid excessive gossiping, personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing.
  • Don’t share colourful stories from your personal life at work.
  • Don’t complain about your job, boss or co-workers on social media.

Be Proactive

  • Learn all you can about the organization and how you can contribute.
  • Offer your boss ideas on how you can contribute more.
  • Anticipate what your boss will need or want next.
  • Learn more about the jobs of the people around you.
  • Learn a valuable new skill that will help you stand out.
  • Earn a valuable new credential/license/ticket/certification.
  • Ask for help if you need it—recognizing your limits is a sign of personal strength and maturity.
  • Work safely.

Be a Team Player

  • Help your co-workers with their projects if asked. You’ll learn something new and get a reputation for being helpful.
  • Be willing to share information.
  • Support and encourage your co-workers.

Be Positive

  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Be flexible and open to taking on new tasks and learning new skills.
  • Keep learning—new skills and tasks make you a more marketable employee.
  • Ask if you don’t know how to do something. Asking shows that you want to do things right and that you’re willing to learn.

Check out these articles for more tips on succeeding at work:

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/ndoeljindoel

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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