The New Year is far behind us and so perhaps are those resolutions you made. The good thing is that it’s always a great time to reflect and set new goals for yourself in both your personal and professional life. I, myself, have been reflecting a lot on what I can do to improve at work (because we should never stop improving!) and how I can make a more meaningful and fruitful contribution to my team members and the people I work with. I did a bit of research and below are five of my favorite tips (or perhaps reminders) on ways to bring your ‘A’ game to work each day.
A good communicator is able to express his or her thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly and with respect for others. Another hallmark of a good communicator is one who does not shy away from making a point but does it in a positive, confident and respectful way. If this is easy for you, then you are a lot farther than most people. The ability to communicate in a constructive way can bring a team together, move a project along quicker, snuff out potential conflict, and motivate others, just to name a few. If you do not feel like this is a strength of yours, there are so many opportunities to improve! Join a Toastmasters club, look for speaking opportunities, or ask a good communicator to mentor you. Honing your communication skills will most certainly get you to that next level in the workplace.
Set the example
We have all worked on teams and with people who don’t appear to be doing much but warming their seat each day. It’s easy to become demoralized by those who don’t seem to be pulling their weight. Instead, make this your opportunity to not let the ‘weakest link’ make you weak! Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others, simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Start work each day focused on being your best and not only will people notice, but perhaps you will raise the standards and performance of those around you.
Give credit where credit is due
I talk to countless people who work for bosses and/or team members who are just fine taking credit when it’s not necessarily theirs to take. This is fear-based and comes from the perception that there are only so many pieces of the pie so I have to get what’s mine. What they (and we) need to remember is that there’s an endless amount of credit and praise that can be given and people just don’t do it enough! Taking the time to praise someone else for their efforts or accomplishments, even very small ones, will of course lift up the recipient, but it can also create a positive environment and one where accomplishments are celebrated collectively. Be the one that sends the email with the boss on CC to a teammate for a great presentation. Thank your boss for his or her coaching last week. Praise your project team for meeting that difficult deadline yesterday. Research shows that being intentionally positive is contagious so you actually have the ability to enhance the mood, morale, and performance of your entire team and those around you! Talk about using the power that you have for good!
Work as a problem-solver
If you are alive, then you will encounter problems. This is certain in all areas of life, including the workplace, so it behooves you to get good at solving them. To shine at work, be the one who is willing to tackle a problem in a solutions-oriented manner. Don’t dwell on a problem and rehash it with each person you encounter; don’t immediately point the finger and spend your time searching for who is to blame; and please, don’t put off dealing with the issue altogether. Instead, when reasonable and within your purview, look for ways to gently bring a problem out into the open for discussion and then collaborate with your boss or team (or both) to come up with one or more solutions that can lead to an action plan. Imagine you being the one that moves things along and makes progress!
Build new relationships
To be effective at work rests, at least in part, on building positive relationships with those around you. I’ve seen some of the most talented people fail because they were unable to connect and work with those around them. With that in mind, consider building on some of the existing relationships you have in the workplace, and start to form some new ones. Take the time to connect with the people around you whenever possible. Work on becoming a good and active listener. Support others’ ideas. Join that group going out to lunch even though you could easily work through the noon hour. Ask those in passing a more targeted question other than ‘how are you?’ Find out what inspires people and show them you care. Investing time in others will pay huge dividends later when you need help on a project or are looking for a new gig. It just helps to have lots of people in your corner – but they don’t get there automatically.
We know that Super Bowls, for example, aren’t won by individuals, but by a group of individuals that collectively make a great team. That being said, we also know that there are standouts within a great team. Why not resolve to shine a bit brighter than the rest this month by implementing one or all of these tips and stepping up your ‘A’ game at work. The results might astound you!