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lessonsAs someone who works for a company that helps people find jobs, I’ve had the privilege of working with, and meeting, a wide range of people that do a wide range of things for a living. But no matter what the profession, I have learned that professional and personal success comes to individuals that understand certain things.

1. No matter what your title, you can be part of the solution
One of the most common issues I see in the workplace is that employees who are lower on the totem pole often think their opinions and ideas aren’t as important as those above them. This simply is not true. In fact, the employees that are on the front lines often see problems much sooner than managers and executive level officers.

Much of what we do at work is trying to figure out ways to fix problems. This goes for everyone in the company. If you see an ongoing issue, come up with the best solution you can think of and take it to your manager, no matter what your title.

2. Always have someone proof your work
As someone who does a lot of writing and some designing, I can tell you firsthand that it’s impossible to proof your own work. It doesn’t matter how often you look at it or read it. It doesn’t matter how much time you give it. There will always be errors that you miss. Find someone in your company that is obsessed with details and have them proof your work each and every time.

3. Attitude greatly undermines, or enhances, your skills
One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that an employee with the right attitude is much more important to a company then an employee with the right skill set. Skills can only take you so far. But an employee that is driven to learn, takes constructive criticism, handles failure well, and collaborates with colleagues is invaluable to the company culture and pulls others along with them towards success. This may sound cliché, but it’s true.

4. A good boss wants to be challenged
A good boss loves when their ideas are challenged by those that report to him/her. The reason is that a good boss understands the importance of arriving at the best answer, not imposing their answers on others. Challenge your boss but obviously be respectful and make sure you have research to back up what you say.

5. Be honest, but be respectful
It’s not always easy to be honest at work. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, or maybe you don’t understand so you stay quiet. But as a member of the team, it is your responsibility to speak up and voice your opinion. This doesn’t mean you need to tell someone you hate their work, but it does mean you should point out where you feel improvements can be made. This is the only way a company can improve. Be honest in your communications, but do it in a way that is respectful to others.

6. Keep the drama at a minimum
Drama in the workplace is a major productivity destroyer. Certainly, issues come up and personalities clash at times. But individuals at a company who are constantly bringing drama and personal issues to work quickly gain an unfavorable reputation. Don’t be that person and don’t engage in this sort of behavior. It can only be detrimental to the company and to your career.

7. Know your strengths and weaknesses
As much as we’d like to think we’re great at everything, we’re not. Know what you’re good at, and more importantly, know what you’re not good at. This allows you to focus on the areas where you can really advance your career and benefit the company.  

8. Always complement good work
It doesn’t matter who did it, a colleague, a boss, someone you don’t like, or someone you don’t know, complimenting good work drives productivity and improves morale. It will also foster good relationships with your coworkers.

9. It’s not “if” you can accomplish something, it’s “are you willing to invest the time” to accomplish it
The saying goes something like this, “you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.” But if you take this to the next logical step it would say, “you can accomplish anything when you are willing to invest the time and effort.” From my experience, success is really about this simple phrase. Not whether you “can” accomplish something, but whether you are willing to invest the time and effort to do so. It’s an important distinction. Do you want to learn to ice skate? Or maybe be an expert in Photoshop? or write a New York Times Best Seller? The question is not “if” you can do it, the question is whether you are willing to do what it takes to accomplish it. Those that are willing to invest the time and effort are often the ones that succeed at work and in life.     

10. Do the right thing, especially when others aren’t looking
It’s easy to do the right thing when others are watching. But doing the right thing when others aren’t is one of the keys to being successful. It’s about integrity and making the right choices even if it’s not always the easy choice. I have found that people who do this on a regular basis have an inner strength that drives their success.

Jeff Monaghan
Director of Marketing
ATR International, Inc.

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