It is that time of the year again, when employee performances are reviewed and employers deliberate over adequate rewards and recompense. Having worked both as an employer and an employee, I’ve sat on both sides of the table and know how opinions are constructed by things as trivial as how people speak and act in their workplaces. Careless comments, dropped shoulders, listless demeanor – these things can influence an employee’s growth prospects as much as their professional aptitude.
As a business owner and an employer, I feel employees must always, always make it a point to take pride in their work and the organizations they are associated with. If your eyes don’t light up when you talk about what you do, you’re inadvertently creating an impression that you’re in the wrong field. This won’t do you any favors when it comes to your professional growth and long-term success. And yes, this extends to social media as well. The world today is interconnected. The boundaries between professional and personal spaces have become non-existent. If I won’t hire someone whose social timeline is full of drunken shenanigans or inane ‘good morning’ posts, why would I want to hire someone who is completely disengaged with the employer that signs the paycheck and the vocation that s/he has chosen?
This is why, if you’re looking for success, you need to demonstrate that the work you do is something that matters to you, something that you take pride in. Here are a few tips that can help you in fostering a positive professional image and significantly influence your growth at your current workplace:
• Create a positive reputation at work: Positivity goes a long way in creating an affirmative image in the mind of the employer, but it comes from ownership. Be alert, be lively, be enthusiastic, and build a reputation for being the best in your area of expertise. Share what knowledge you have with others, and be a willing listener to what others say. Come up with ideas you think can make a difference and discuss them with clients, team members, and the leadership team. Learn as much as you can, and demonstrate a passion for improving not just yourself, but others around you.
• Improvement is a constant quest: The global business landscape is constantly evolving, and you should too. Anyone can push a paper; to really succeed, you need to be more. If you’re doing the same things your predecessor was doing, ask yourself: what are you bringing to the table? Become the one person who adds more value to everything that you’re involved in – be it refining the internal communications setup or optimizing workflow. Gather experiences from others and of your own, and look for ways to implement what you’ve learned in your professional responsibilities. Do more, do better, and keep on evolving.
• Embrace your responsibility: Big Ben, the world’s biggest clock tower, is made up of hundreds and thousands of smaller components which help it function day in, day out. Think about that. You’re important. What you do is vital to the larger picture. Understand that, accept that, and take pride in it. Assume responsibility for your own work without complaining about what others are doing. No one likes someone who mopes all the time.
• Presenting it with élan: Looks matter, and doubly so in a professional setting. How you present yourself and the work that you do speaks volumes of the pride you take in it, which is why you must always make it a point to make it – and yourself – as presentable as possible. Invest in enhancing the visual appeal of your workplace and give due importance to every email, every presentation, every slide. Remember: sloppiness is the mark of an unprofessional mindset.
• Progress demands participation and feedback: Professional pride comes with the knowledge that you’re making a tangible difference, be it to people or to the business. This can only be done if you’re an active participant. Stop being a hanger-on; reach out to people to give and seek feedback. Demonstrate your keen eye for detail and your acumen for improving processes. Stand out from the crowd and challenge your peers to come up with better solutions. There are yes-men by the dozen at every workplace; you need to make your voice heard.
• Be a bundle of positivity: You know how easy it is to make your fellow professionals happy? All you need is to appreciate something good that they’ve done. How your work environment will shape up depends a lot on you, so be positive. Highlight the progress that people have made, the good that people do to create a positive, vibrant workplace. Take a moment to reflect on the collective achievement and progress. Steer clear of any negative influences at work. Nobody appreciates someone who can only talk about gripes. It gets annoying and counterproductive after a while.
Remember this about your workplace: you own it, whether you’re an entry-level resource or the CEO of the organization. Everything that you do, everything that is done by your company –amazing or awful, a success or a failure – it matters. So participate. Be a champion of your work, your organization, in office or outside it. If something needs changing, change it. But own it like it is your own and be proud of it. If you cannot take pride in the work that you do, it is high time you stop dragging down everyone around you and find something which is right for you.