Labor Day is here and for many these days it has become that long weekend punctuating the end of summer. Of course, originally and officially, this day is reserved to celebrate the American worker. As leaders, we should celebrate those that work for us; after all, could we do anything without them? We’ve written plenty in this blog about the relationship between you and those you lead but I thought on this occasion I would focus on the other side of the equation and talk briefly about how to be the best employee you can be. Many of us are not only leaders, but also someone else’s direct report so stick with me, there is a lesson or two in here for you too.
Tips to be a great worker:
Take responsibility for yourself. No one owes you a job. Bear the responsibility of making yourself valuable enough that someone will want to hire you. Once hired, it is your responsibility to continue to be valuable for the organization that you work for.
Understand your roll and how you fit in to the bigger picture. This may be a paradigm shift for some but consider that you have been hired to fulfil a purpose. There are some workers who will sit around waiting to be told what to do. Being proactive in understanding your purpose and how you fit into it is a key step towards greatness. I’ve often counselled individuals desiring better communications with their boss to ask the question, “What do I do that helps you be successful?” Follow this up with “What can I do to help you be MORE successful?”
Be accountable: Stop playing the blame game when things don’t go well. “I didn’t get the report done on time because I was waiting on material from Susy in accounting.” Sound familiar? Does it really matter whose fault it is? Try this instead, “I missed the deadline for the report. I need to work with accounting to see if we can find a way to get their inputs quicker.” Notice the shift from “It’s someone else’s fault” to “Let’s find a solution and move forward.”
Don’t play the victim. Compare “Not my fault; if that truck driver had been doing the speed limit I wouldn’t have been late for work (again)…” with “Sorry I was late. I should leave for work 15 minutes earlier to allow for traffic. It won’t happen again.”
Contribute to something larger than yourself. It’s easy to get hung up on just getting the job done. But once you know how you fit into the bigger picture you often have the best perspective on how to achieve goals better or operate more efficiently. Speak up and present your ideas.
Support a positive culture. Refuse to go negative by not participating in office gossip, inter-office bashing, the rumor mill, and so forth. Negativity is both insidious and contagious and can quickly make work a dismal place to be. Don’t fall into the trap; instead, strive to be the voice of reason and positivity. You don’t have to be Pollyanna but make the effort and you will see results.
While certainly not all-inclusive, these five things will make you a more valuable worker. Perhaps even someone worthy of having their own national holiday at the end of summer.
From all of us here at The Daedalus Group, have a great Labor Day!