Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

18 ways to being a better employee

Did someone say CMYK or RGB? Buildings in Singapore

Following on from my 39 hints when looking for work, I’ve learnt what works both as an employee and employer when it comes down to traits and habits of great employees. Here’s some of them;

  1. Be a great communicator – communicate well to fellow staff, management, clients and everyone around you.
  2. Understand other roles – take the time to have a good but basic understanding of every role that affects you – management, fellow team members and the person in the corner that no-one talks to.
  3. Work hard – and I don’t just mean long hours. Prioritise, plan and above all, don’t watch the clock. If you arrive 1 minute before the office opens, and leave one minute after, then you are sending a message that you don’t care about your job.
  4. Dress well – it doesn’t matter if your colleagues don’t wash for days, and think it’s OK to wear torn t shirts, stand out from the pack by dressing like a professional.
  5. Have an opinion – nothing is more infuriating than someone that just agrees with you, all of the time. You have an opinion – share it. Just realise that others may disagree, and that’s fine.
  6. Ask questions – if you don’t understand a task, or are not sure about what client X is asking for, it’s worse to guess than it is to be human and ask.
  7. Ask for reviews – if you don’t regularly have a performance review from your manager, ask for one. At worst, you’ll know what you are doing wrong, at best they’ll appreciate you want to improve.
  8. Offer to help co-workers – if you’ve got 10 minutes spare, instead of surfing the web aimlessly or sneaking away to hide in the storeroom, ask a colleague if there’s a 5 minute task you can do for them.
  9. Learn and up skill constantly – some education may be the employers responsibility, but if you aren’t spending a few hours a week or fortnight trying to better yourself, in your own time, watch out if you ever need to find that next job – you may have been left behind.
  10. Don’t get drunk at office parties – it’s fine to have a few drinks, but getting smashed is only going to embarrass yourself.
  11. Walk in the bosses shoes – think about what your boss needs from you, and do your best to fulfil their wishes. Understand what your role is, and how it fits in the bigger picture. If you don’t know, ask.
  12. Don’t resign with a weeks notice. try your best to give ample time for your employer to find someone to replace you.
  13. Understand your boss and their bosses (if any) are human too – we all make mistakes, we’re even greater if we accept responsibility for them.
  14. Have goals and careers expectations – otherwise, ten years will pass, and you’ll still be stuck doing what you did 10 years ago.
  15. Remember to take breaks – downtime is as important as ‘up time’. Take off for the weekend, or arrange a few days holiday and renovate the house. You’ll come back so much more refreshed.
  16. Don’t get involved in office politics. Leave that for the water cooler idiots. Don’t speak ill of a fellow employee or manager, as it will no doubt get back to them.
  17. Have an issue with someone on your team? Speak to them about it – much of the time, people are not even aware that they may be upsetting or annoying you, and a well worded (and calm!) message to them, face to face, can work wonders.
  18. Learn even more. Educating and up skilling yourself on weekends and week nights is the only way your next position will be even better, and you’ll be safe in your current job. This is doubly so for those who work in the web or in ICT.

The 18 tips above come from years as an employee and more recent years as an employer. It’s an interesting thing seeing life from both sides of the fence, but I believe that prior to being an employer, I still followed all of the above. I never got into office politics, I always asked for job feedback, and I don’t think I ever worked a job (in retail, business services and other professions), where I didn’t work at least an extra hour a day for free.

Image: Did someone say CMYK or RGB? Buildings in Singapore.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for the tips. I’m working a job right now where I practictly started from the bottom and since the 4 months that I’ve been working here I’ve been promoted 2 times. I look forward to continue climbing the latter and tips like these are very helpful.

  2. Beens

    oooops, I am guilty of a few of the bad ones. These tips are really useful tho. The only one I can’t get my head round is working the extra hour everyday. I’d love to be this loyal but you have to have a life outside of work and work colleagues too.
    I really liked point 8. I will definitely try to do this one.

  3. chris

    These are all very helpful ideas- I too am guilty of participating in some bad but I have tried some of the others some were successful some weren’t. thanks alot for your info.

  4. Sharon

    Those are some great tips. I have been at my job for a couple months, and I just feel like I am not making some of the managers happy. I worked at the same place a year ago, but quit for another job. I just came back, and I feel like I am not as great an employee as I was before. So, these tips are definately going to help, and they aren’t unrealistic tips and can be done easily! The hardest one though is the gossiping one. The politics. The co workers I take breaks with, end up gossiping a lot, and sometimes I get caught in it. I don’t like to do it, but sometimes I do. Thats going to be the hardest thing to stop doing. But thanks for the tips!

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