ASPECT'S GUIDE TO SUCCESS AT WORK
You know how to make a great first impression and how to make that impression last — ensuring that you will be the valuable employee that everyone will want to keep around.
Now we will introduce topics that you need to be aware of in order to get ahead — to move up in the organization where you work, or to ensure that your next job starts at a higher level.
We will discuss taking your already effective communication skills a step further — to receive valuable feedback and to let others know what you need and want. We will look at how to show initiative and, most importantly, we will begin this section by looking at the concept of life-long learning.
You are responsible for acquiring the skills you need to do your job and to advance your career. By committing to the concept of life-long learning you will not only move up the employment ladder, you will also broaden your options and enhance your life. Here are some ideas:
Learn about work: On the job, learn everything about your position and then begin to learn more about the company, the industry, the labour market. All this will contribute to your being able to develop a "career path".
Learn about others: Be curious and ask question of the people around you — those who enjoy their work, have been to school, have traveled. They hold knowledge that can broaden your horizons.
Take courses: Look for classes offered through work or those that could lead to advancement. Or take courses you are interested in "just for fun." Try colleges, school boards, home study, and community centers and agencies.
Go to workshops and lectures: Many are offered free or at minimal cost. Check billboards and community newspapers.
Read: If you are not big on reading books, read newspapers, magazines, look at photo books or atlases. Try "talking" books. Use the library.
Watch TV: Be more selective by watching shows that teach you something. Try documentaries, science and travel shows. Ask yourself: "What am I learning here?"
Volunteer: This is a great way to meet new people, expand your skill base, and have fun. And it looks great on a resume! Choose a long-term commitment or special events. Learn something new or use skills you have.
Learn online: The internet can be a great resource. Search for topics related to your work or industry. Find out about places your coworkers have lived. Research new products or new ways of doing things.
Learn in your spare time: Read or listen to books on tape on the bus. Listen to radio documentaries or discussions while you do household chores.
Choose one of the suggestions above, or one of your own ideas, and commit, right now to make learning a part of your life.
Keep a list of ideas for learning. List courses, suggestions from your boss or others, ideas for volunteering, etc.
Showing initiative is about going beyond simply "doing your job". As you become experienced and more knowledgeable you will be expected to show initiative. That is, expected to take more interest in the work, become more adaptable, be able to anticipate what needs to be done and get on with it, and begin making suggestions on how to do things better.
The following checklist will help you assess how well you demonstrate initiative, as well as giving you suggestions for improvement.
Begin new tasks before you are told?
Look for work to fill any spare time?
Make yourself available for extra work or overtime?
Keep communication with superiors open?
Try to correct mistakes or problems?
Work without supervision?
Take on extra tasks such as helping with staff or charity events?
Volunteer for committee work?
Demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning?
Communication for Moving Up
If you have been following the guidelines in this handbook, you are already demonstrating that you are doing a wonderful job. But simply waiting for someone to notice doesn't always work. Here are some ways to communicate that you are an exemplary employee.
Evaluation: If your employer has regular staff evaluations do a self evaluation first. Be prepared to say where you think you have improved and what you would like to continue to work on — preferably something beyond the scope of your current job.
Ask for feedback: If no formal evaluation process exists ask for general feedback. Or ask for feedback on a specific task or area of responsibility. Be prepared to receive and appreciate criticism calmly.
Ask about training: Ask your employer for advice regarding courses you could take to enhance your skills. If in-house training is offered, sign up. Ask if you can get some hands-on training in another area or department to expand your skills.
Ask about openings: If there are openings in other areas, on different shifts or in alternative positions enquire about them. Let your employer know if you are flexible enough to make a change.
Ask for advice: Your employer, or a coworker in a senior position, will be happy to give you their opinions — on your career, on how to do the job, on how to get ahead.
Report accomplishments: Keep a list of accomplishments and let others know when you have mastered a task, completed a course or received praise from a customer.
Keep communication open: Regular communication with your employer is one way to ensure that your name comes up when new opportunities arise.
Respect time and space: Ask if it is a good time to talk. Don't simply hang around and wait if someone is on the phone or with another. Keep conversations at work short and to the point.