Anyone looking to advance in their career knows that you’re judged on more than your technical skills on the job. Your attitude, communication skills, work ethic and even body language play a huge role in how you are perceived at work and if you are considered for promotion. Since people tend to remember the bad more clearly than the good when it comes to their co-workers, little bad habits can be real career-killers when it comes to applying for a new job or looking to advance in your current one. Here are a few tips for being the most promotable and hireable team-player in the office.
Be a giver, not a taker
Look around your office and it’s easy to see who’s a ‘giver’ and who’s a ‘taker.’ You don’t want to be the person who is always asking for favours but never returning and only looking out for your own interests (and making it totally obvious). While the selfish approach may have short-term benefits like a lighter or more focused workload, people will pick up on your ‘me first’ attitude and assume you’re not a team-player. You should do favours for people if they aren’t too inconvenient and don’t detract from your own work. It sounds corny, but workplaces really do thrive when everyone acts as though the office is a team rather than a place to get ahead. Don’t be a doormat, but don’t underestimate the social benefits of doing stuff for other people.
Watch your language
Sorry, but you still probably shouldn’t swear at work. However, take a read of the room to figure out if that’s something that can help you build relationships. You want to be relatable and authentic with your co-workers, but you don’t want to offend anyone. A good rule of thumb is to cater your language to the most conservative person in the room. ‘Work appropriate’ isn’t the same everywhere, so take a reading of a social situation in an office before you jump right in.
This isn’t just about swearing either. Words have power and the ones you choose to use say a lot about who you are. Think about your word-selection very carefully for the situations where it matters most. Generally, you’re going to want to use strong language to come across as confident, but be aware of the times that being harsh will close doors for you. For example, if someone asks you to do them a favour, don’t respond with ‘That’s not in my job description.’ That lets your co-worker know that you aren’t a team-player. Instead, say something more like, ‘Sorry, I don’t think I’ll have time to do that to the best of my ability’ to let them know that you are open to doing favours, but need to prioritize your own work.
It’s just good manners
In general, having good manners is going to help you come across as professional, competent and kind. Lots of employers will put potential employees through manner tests during a job interview to see how polite and considerate they are. They might be watching if you hold the door for strangers or greet their receptionist. If they take you out on a lunch meeting, how you treat the wait staff is a huge indicator of how you are as a person. Just remember what Mama taught you and you should be fine.
10 minutes early is on-time
Don’t. Be. Late. Ever. If you burst into a meeting ten minutes late, not only have you either held up or interrupted the meeting, you look disorganized and frazzled. How are you supposed to manage a heavy workload if you can’t even manage your time? Sure, you were busy and were just running late, but everyone else is busy too and now this meeting is going to run ten minutes later than it should. It’s just inconsiderate.
Always aim to arrive to meetings ten minutes early. You’ll have time to organize yourself, think about what you’re there to accomplish and maybe even network a little. It’s common for senior employees to arrive to meetings early and it definitely doesn’t hurt to rub elbows with those guys and gals before the meeting starts.
Stop oversharing at work
On average, we spend about 60 percent of our time at work, so things are going to get personal at some point; we’re human. But there’s a fine line between having a friendly conversation and oversharing. It depends on how close you are with your co-workers and what your work environment is like, but as a general rule, you might want to leave the drama at home. You could come across as preoccupied and distracted if you share too much about your life during working hours. Plus, you’re distracting others too or worse, forcing them to listen to a weirdly personal story that doesn’t actually have any impact on their lives.
Confidence = competence
Confidence really is the key to getting anywhere in the workplace. If you display confidence, people are more likely to respect you and see you as competent at your job. If you have trouble portraying confidence, a simple way to sound competent is to eliminate weak words and phrases when you address people. That’s ‘I think,’ ‘I mean,’ ‘You might want to think about,’ and all those filler sounds like ‘um’ and ‘ah.’ If all else fails: fake it ’til you make it.
Basically, just be a decent human being around the office. Be polite, respectful and show everyone you’re there to get work done. All an employer really wants is pleasant people who are there to do their job well. Be that person and you should go far.