How To Strengthen Your Position On The Job
If you haven’t experienced a layoff personally, you probably know someone who has. Today’s difficult economy has had a huge effect on businesses everywhere, which translates to the job market becoming more competitive than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.
What’s the best way to guard against being the one who’s laid off or let go from a job? Be the best choice for an employee that your company has available.
That may not guarantee that you don’t find yourself suddenly without a job or that you are part of your company’s cut-backs. But it will sure give you the best chance you can have of keeping a job, keeping your hours or pay level and even being the one who is considered for advancement.
Here I’ll share what makes a “star employee” based on my own experiences as a business manager and by what I’ve learned from associates. There are a few things that really make a difference that most people don’t even think of as having an impact on their job. While this may not be an all-inclusive guide, following these strategies will definitely increase the value your company places on you.
Your Appearance is Golden
A very successful man once told me, “your smile is the most valuable part of your wardrobe”.
Your personal appearance on the job should be a ‘no brainer’ but just in case, here are some tips. Always dress appropriately when you’re at work or even a job-related get together (office parties, etc.). Unless you’re part of the cast of “The Real Housewives of Wherever”, modest attire in the workplace is a must, no matter what your gender is.
Belly buttons should never be seen at work unless you’re a lifeguard or underwear model. Another thing to keep covered is the plumbers’ crack or that cute little tattoo on your lower back. Guys, pull up your pants. Ladies, button up that blouse. Be professional.
Coordinate your shoes with your belt, iron your shirts (and pants if needed), be clean & groomed. Even if you can’t invest in a new wardrobe each season, there are a lot of things you can do to keep looking good each day at work.
Obviously, unless you work on-screen, your hair & makeup should always be done before you get to work.
If your office has a dress-down Friday, try dressing just a little nicer than the rest of the staff you work with.
Maintain Your Health
Your own health is a major key to your success at work. When you’re run down, overly tired, not eating right or getting enough exercise, it will show and have a marked impact on your performance. Your boss is probably going to notice that you haven’t been getting enough sleep long before they actually pull you aside and say something.
Eating & sleeping right will help you focus & think better. In addition to proper diet & rest, exercising & staying in good shape minimizes work related injuries. If your boss sees you as a liability, that doesn’t translate into job security & advancement for you.
Your health will play a role in how you feel and your attitude (e.g. how well you can deal with job stresses).
Planning is Key
Anything you do in life, if worth doing, should have a plan behind it. Planning out your personal schedule is important when it comes to your job, too. It minimizes catastrophes & drama from little things which could interfere with your job performance. Coordinating things in your personal life with family, etc., can minimize distracting personal phone calls while at work and can help a lot when it comes to cutting down on stress from outside sources as you’re focused on the job.
I actually once had an employee who called in to work saying they couldn’t find their car keys, so they were taking the day off. That doesn’t work for long.
Planning for your job should go as far as long term career goals but also includes making sure you’re in good health & that you’re well rested from day to day.
Very similar to planning, organizing will make things in your personal life and on the job go so much smoother. This can mean something as simple as knowing where your keys are as you’re headed to work in the morning. Keeping your workplace clean and organized will help you be productive & efficient, as well as making a great impression on the boss.
Check Your Attitude
You might be amazed how many people are laid off or fired due mainly to their poor attitudes. Even if there are things about your job that you can’t stand, your attitude & character will determine where you wind up more than most other factors put together.
Smile, be agreeable and work as a team player even if you generally aren’t. If you have something from outside work that’s frustrating you, leave it outside of work – and then deal with it as soon as possible afterward.
Avoid Office Politics & Gossip
There’s going to be ‘politics’ in any workplace. Make it a personal rule not to play that game. There’s no reason to kiss your boss’s backside in hopes of getting ahead. Your personal integrity and hard work will go much further and will actually be genuine.
Don’t participate in rumors, water cooler gossip or talking behind anyone’s back. Remember that anything negative you say about someone will almost always get back to them.
If a coworker is gossiping about someone, you don’t have to participate. You can politely say something like, “It’s not fair to talk about Amy if she’s not present”, or come up with something just as effective. Your integrity is at stake if you gain a reputation as a bad mouth, rumor-monger or gossip. If people know that you aren’t going to take part in covert conversations about other people, they will also trust you not to do it in regards to them.
A few more quick tips:
- Volunteer from time to time if you can.
- Keep personal calls at work to a minimum. Never text or take personal calls around clients/customers.
- Increase your knowledge & skills. Take a class. Get that degree. Read some books. Invest in yourself.
- Always follow up & follow through.
- Be honest at all times. Not that ‘brutal honesty’ that says “you look like hell today” – but the kind that shows people you’re trustworthy.
- Work to strengthen your customer service skills. It will pay off no matter what industry you’re in.