If you work, you are an employee. Many articles are about leadership and how to be more effective in helping others choose to follow in the pursuit of desirable outcomes. But every leader is a member of the team too. Even the CEO, even the owner.
If you are a leader, take that hat off. Think about the following not as just advice for your team, rather advice for yourself.
Eight ways to be a better employee
- More focused, less distracted
We live in a world of distractions - it seems new ones come at us every day. They are seductive, and some might even seem important. Yet to add more value and accomplish more, you must learn to be more focused. Determine which distractions impact you most negatively and remove or limit them. Log off, disconnect or remove an app (or five). As you deal with distractions more proactively, your productivity and results will soar.
- More face time, less screen time
If you work remotely from others, you might not be able to get face-to-face with colleagues very often, but when you can, please do. In a remote environment, this also means firing up your webcam more often - it provides a richer conversation, allows for better communication and builds working relationships. If you aren't remote, send fewer emails and instant messages. Walk down the hall. Have a conversation.
- More aware, less selfish
You may have high expectations of yourself and your career, and if that is true, great! Remember though that it isn't all about you. Ask for feedback on your work and approach; listen to and value those perspectives as a way to broaden your own awareness. Being open to feedback is just one way to be more aware, but it also helps you be less selfish and self-centred. No one wants to work with that ego-driven, selfish person, so don't be them.
- More respectful, less judgmental
Our media and the public conversation is becoming less respectful, and people are moving to judgment more quickly than ever. That isn't creating better results globally, and it won't create better results in your workplace either. Be respectful of others, even if you don't agree with them. Remember that there is a difference between what someone does or believes and who they are. Show and grant more respect and you will be more effective and successful.
- More accomplishment, less activity
We are busier than ever (at least that is what we tell ourselves) which lead many people to be focused on the busyness. They wear busyness like a badge of honour. High performers don't aspire to that badge. Instead, they think about what they need to accomplish. When you focus on getting the right things done rather than being busy, you will emulate the highest achievers in any field. Who would you rather emulate?
- More ownership, less blame
While blaming can be fun and it keeps us from having to take action, it doesn't allow us to be very happy, accountable or successful. When you point your finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back at you. Take that as a sign. When something doesn't go so well, ask yourself what you could do that might make it better. That is a question of ownership and accountability. You will be happier and a far more valued employee when you make the accountable choice.
- More learning, less complacency
Things may be going pretty well for you; I hope they are. But that is no reason to be complacent, or feel like you know all you need to know. The world is changing faster than ever; the most valuable (and marketable) team members are consistently and continually learning.
- More commitment, less compliance
Lots of people can do the job and meet the minimum requirements of a job - that is working for compliance. If you do the other seven things on this list, you will be more committed to your work, your success and yourself. It is a more challenging but far more rewarding way to work.
If you love your work and want to make an even bigger contribution in the coming months, this list is a great place to start.
If you want to be more engaged in your work and find more meaning in your work, do the things above. Don’t wait for someone to lead you there, or expect something from others. Consider this your prompt.
If you are starting a job search and wanting to find the perfect job for you, consider how you can do more of these things both in discussions in your interviews and when you start that new job.
Regardless of your role or situation, taking action on the advice above will make you a happier, more effective and productive member of any team.