Why Am I Doing This?

I have to be honest … I am pretty confident that nobody out there cares what I have to say about being an exceptional employee.  I’m not an expert, I’m nobody in the grand scheme of things.  It was a combination of things that made me decide to do this.

First, I took a webinar that I found on Facebook a few weeks ago.  It was about Positive Parenting.  I’m a single mom of two kids, and I can use all the help I can get!  The webinar was pretty interesting, but my real take away was this gnawing idea that “I could do something like this”.  But lets get real – what do I really know enough about to do a webinar?  And then it occurred to me, that I know a lot about being a great employee.

Every job I’ve had, I’ve gotten that feedback.  The job I’m currently at has afforded me many opportunities to hone my skills and really perfect my approach.  Not only that, but I realized that I’m viewed as something of a mentor to a lot of my co-workers.  I find myself giving advice all the time these days.  So maybe I do have something to share after all …

This blog is not designed for people who are deep into their careers.  Its for people who are just starting out and are trying to find a way to shine.  The goal for the majority of us I think, is to move up from a junior level position and take on more responsibility.  The only way to get there is to stand out, to be exceptional.  Let’s face it that’s not always easy.  There’s a lot of competition out there!

I’ve spent some time formalizing my approach over the last few weeks, and I’m ready to share it.  I would also like to offer myself as someone you can bring your questions to and I’ll help you work through whatever scenario you may be dealing with.

I’m excited to see where this goes, but even if it goes nowhere at least now I have my work philosophy documented for my kids!

Thanks for your support!

At Your Service

This one’s a good one.  It’s basically the backbone of my whole philosophy: Treat every task you do as your product and every person you do things for as your customer.  Then give them the best customer experience they’ve ever had!

Let’s play this out like you’re a server in a restaurant:

You are asked to perform a task, the equivalent of a customer sitting at your table.  What should you do?  Write down the order.  In detail.  Ask questions so you know what you need to deliver, in what format and when.  Just like you’re asking what kind of dressing they want on their salad.  If there is anything you’re unsure of, now’s the time to ask.  You should have a pleasant, upbeat, “CAN DO” attitude throughout this entire process.  Offer them service with a smile.

Now it’s time to get to work.  Do everything you can to over-deliver.  Hurry up and get that order sent back to the kitchen.  Obviously, you should meet the deadline, but better yet BEAT it whenever possible.  Work quickly and efficiently.  No matter what the due date is, your deadline is always ASAP.  You never want your customer asking “where’s my food” right?

Also obvious, check for mistakes.  Always be mindful of how you present your work.  The physical appearance of your work as well as your physical presence when you are presenting it should be neat, organized and as free from errors as possible.  Go back over the “order” you took and make sure everything is there and that it looks appealing.  Is the steak overcooked?  Fire another one on the fly!

Learn to anticipate what others may need, what objections may be raised to something you need, and problems that may arise so you can address them ahead of time.  Do whatever you can to make things convenient and easy.  If you know they will want something printed, do it for them, etc.  So basically bring them a drink refill before they ask, offer to wrap their leftovers instead of just bringing them a box.  Oh and this customer is a regular, so you know they always have coffee and dessert.  Just go ahead and bring it out without them asking.

You’re assignment is coming to a close … you’re bringing the check.  Ask for feedback.  Ask if there is anything else you can do.  Make sure they’re coming back and when they do … they’ll request their favorite server.

Be Humble

I think the biggest thing I have learned, not just in my career but in my life, is how important humility can be.  Be humble and be genuine.  Your work ethic, and the quality of your output will speak for themselves!  You don’t need to make a big show about how much you are doing, or how great your results are.  Just keep doing your work, and doing it well.

It’s true … Actions Speak Louder Than Words.  Don’t talk about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.  Just do it.  And when it’s done, don’t assume it’s perfect (even if you know you rocked it).  Always ask for feedback from your leaders.  One of three things will happen.  You’ll either get no feedback, positive feedback or suggestions for improvement.

If you get no feedback, your job is done and you can move on.

If you get positive feedback, that’s a feather in your cap!  Feels great doesn’t it?

If you get suggestions for improvement, embrace it!  Remember, your leaders have a perspective based on years of experience.  Know your place.  You might be a prodigy, you might have graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, and truth be told you might think your boss is a bumbling idiot … but you would be wise to respect their position and experience.  Don’t ever pass up an opportunity to learn.

There is always something more to learn.  Regardless of whether you have performed this function a dozen times, or once … the process of asking for feedback benefits you on multiple levels.  For one, you get to hear a different perspective and expand your knowledge.  Also, you get to show your leaders that you are open and eager to collaborate.  And if nothing else, you get to respectfully explain your approach and find out why you were asked to change it.

Another way to show humility is to be willing to help your organization however necessary. You are not above doing anything!  If you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, lose it!  No matter what the task, if you’re asked to do it (or even if you’re not but you notice it needs to be done) – just do it!  And do it pleasantly!

Businesses are operating on leaner crews these days.  Pitch in, or better yet take the initiative to do the less than desirable “chores” around the office.  I promise you it will be noticed and appreciated tremendously.  That kind of thing falls under the “Going the Extra Mile” category and it makes you an asset!  Keep your eyes open for opportunities.

Conversely, if you resist doing the tedious chores because you think they’re beneath you (or maybe you just don’t feel like it) your leaders will notice that just as much.  And rather than being viewed as an asset, you’ll be viewed as someone who is not invested in the organization.

I’ve never had a job where arrogant and cocky got you farther than humility, and it’s not something you can fake.  If you aren’t naturally humble, practice!