When most people think about being a good employee, they focus on fulfilling their job description. Being a good employee, though, involves much more than that. Meeting deadlines and showing up for meetings is not enough to be a good employee.
Becoming a good employee requires a mix of competence and personal skills. When combined, these characteristics can transform you from an efficient employee into a good one.
The question then begs, “What does it take to be a good employee?”
The answer to this question is in our nine great tips to become a good employee. So, let’s take a careful look at each one.
1. Demonstrate professional behavior
This first tip may seem obvious. However, employees sometimes neglect to demonstrate their professional behavior at all times. These slip-ups can become quite costly. For example, a careless post on social media can unleash a storm of criticism. Also, thoughtless comments and actions can ultimately cost you your job.
Retired Harvard Business School professor David Maister offers the following words of wisdom, “Professional is not a label you give yourself. It’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” Indeed, the term “good employee” does not come from within. It comes when others recognize you are a good employee because of what you bring to the table every day.
Demonstrating professional behavior ultimately boils down to following company procedures, dressing appropriately, showing up for meetings on time, and most of all, being present. When employees are present, they strive to deliver their best. This positive attitude is what causes a great impression in the workplace.
2. Become a knowledgeable employee
Conventional wisdom suggests good employees are great at what they do and know their craft well. Nevertheless, how can you tell an employee is truly good at what they do?
The answer to that question lies in your ability to contribute to your company’s goals. When you are good at what you do, you help the company achieve its aims. Professional athletes clearly illustrate this point. The best players help their team win. Likewise, good employees help their companies win.
Legendary motivational speaker Zig Ziglar offers this valuable insight,
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”
Good employees know what their company’s mission is. So, if you are serious about becoming a good employee, strive to be a valuable contributor to your company’s mission and vision.
3. Work hard. Play hard.
Hardworking employees almost always become valuable assets in any company. They stand out thanks to their work ethic and dedication to their goals. However, maintaining a strong drive can become a serious challenge over the long run. Most employees start strong but gradually see their motivation fade away. Often, motivation dwindles as hardworking employees risk burning out. Maintaining an adequate work-life balance ensures that hard workers stay on top of their game.
Some folks think they can get by on their talent alone, but talent will only get you so far. The top performers in any profession know it takes a combination of talent and hard work to become truly successful. Former NFL quarterback and current head coach Kliff Kingsbury clearly sums up this point, “Work ethic is the most important component of being successful.”
Professional athletes and top performers know that a strong work ethic is crucial to their success. Maintaining a strong work ethic ensures success. Nevertheless, maintaining proper mental, physical, and emotional well-being is essential in ensuring long-term success. Regular physical exercise, mindfulness and meditation, and downtime can all help reduce stress and keep a healthy work-life balance.
4. Become a part of the solution, not the problem
Efficient employees contribute to their company’s success. Good employees go beyond merely contributing, they use their skills to help the company go beyond its usual aims. This attitude involves recognizing and helping solve issues. In other words, good employees strive to make their organization the best it can be.
Good employees do not start by asking for more benefits and better compensation. Instead, they start by asking what they can do to help the company continue building on its success. Legendary business mogul John D. Rockefeller once said, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.”
Doing common things uncommonly well involves exceeding customer expectations through exceptional service, boosting productivity, or finding new ways of delivering value. Good employees strive to find ways to innovate the day-to-day tasks.
5. Cultivate relationships
Good employees build strong relationships with everyone around them, not just their boss. Cultivating relationships at work is about everyone knowing they can count on you.
American business mogul and Campbell Soup CEO Douglas Conant famously told his employees, “If you cultivate a relationship in a genuine, thoughtful way, people will be more inclined to want to help you even though they don’t have to help you.”
This powerful thought underscores a fundamental principle: people help you because they want to, not because they have to. Please remember that cultivating relationships does not always refer to the workplace. Cultivating relationships outside the workplace is key to ensuring success. Building trust with suppliers, business partners, customers, and the general public help to favorably position the company.
6. Volunteer whenever possible, be proactive and ready to lend a hand
Many employees just want to do their job, punch out when their shift is over, and collect their paycheck. These run-of-the-mill employees may be efficient, but they rarely become good, let alone outstanding.
Good employees go above and beyond their job description. Often, good employees contribute to causes greater than the company or themselves. For instance, socially responsible companies ask their employees to volunteer their time and efforts for worthy causes. Good employees are the ones at the front of the line, waiting to contribute as best they can.
Tech leader Dave Gynn offers this comical yet insightful thought, “Don’t ever question the value of volunteers. Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.”
In other words, volunteers build great companies. Volunteers help position themselves and their companies in their communities. Good employees use their company’s position to transform their communities into wonderful places to live and work.
7. Be ready to work every day
Being punctual is so simple. So, why do so many people overlook such a valuable habit? Punctuality speaks volumes of your character. Being on time signals that you commit your efforts to your organization’s success.
Former Canadian politician Thomas Chandler Haliburton famously said, “Punctuality is the soul of business.”
Punctuality is a wonderful trait all good employees possess. However, walking through the door on time is not enough to be successful. Good employees walk through the door ready to work. They hit the ground running every day.
Good employees take the time to organize their tasks, review their goals, and set themselves up for success. Good employees organize the next day’s tasks before they leave the office. A good employee prioritizes the most urgent tasks and knows when to ask for help. Punctuality is efficient. Being punctual and ready to attack the day is better as well as being a characteristic of a good employee.
8. Have personal and professional goals
Caring about your company’s success is not an entirely selfless act. There is no reason why you should not personally succeed when your company succeeds. Therefore, you must set big goals for yourself. When you do, your company thrives.
Good employees set lofty goals for themselves, such as getting a promotion, getting trained in a new area, or exceeding their targets. When you achieve your goals, your company also reaps the reward. As your organization benefits, you win, too. This symbiotic relationship helps everyone become successful.
American industrialist Andrew Carnegie used to tell his employees, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.”
When you live your life by your goals, you find that inner drive that keeps you motivated for the long haul. Ultimately, good employees let their goals command their thoughts, energy, and hopes.
9. Admit your mistakes and have a solution
No one is perfect. This truth is evident. Everyone makes mistakes. However, the hard part is to admit them. Average employees look to avoid mistakes as much as possible. They constantly fear making mistakes.
Good employees understand that making mistakes is a part of growth and development. The difference lies in good employees’ attitudes about mistakes. Good employees are ready to admit they made a mistake. They are also ready to become a part of the solution. When a good employee makes a mistake, they do not fear it. They strive to rectify it, learn from it, and move on.
Best-selling author Haruki Murakami eloquently states, “As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around.”
Turning things around means taking a proactive attitude toward avoiding mistakes in the first place. This attitude includes double-checking instructions, asking clarifying questions, and getting help when needed. In doing so, you can avoid making a costly make.
Please remember that admitting a mistake is good when you are a part of the solution. For instance, spotting the mistake and taking prompt action can save your company a considerable number of problems. Owning up to your mistakes is a good thing. Fixing them is a great thing. Learning from them in order to prevent them in the future is an even better thing.
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This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. TalentZök is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.