The answer to the question ‘What makes a good employee?’ can seem, at times, as elusive as the Holy Grail – and more valuable. Given how different work can be from person to person – the shifting needs and demands of different jobs (and even within the same job) – it can seem truly impossible to answer such a question. Fear not, however, for we have dug deep into our many years of workplace wisdom, and provided some glittering answers to the eternal quandary.
It can be easy to float around at work, carrying out the tasks you’re given when you’re given them and not investing much in anything else. However, one of the traits of a truly excellent employee is the setting of goals for yourself. If you set yourself a goal that’s a bit above-and-beyond – and make sure you hit it, obviously – it’ll reflect very well in your boss’ eyes – as it demonstrates that you can work hard, but also have ambition. More importantly, though, it can also give you something to be passionate about. Setting a goal, no matter how small, can help to give you a sense of purpose in your work, and will make it much more enjoyable.
Be a positive presence
A workplace environment is a very delicate thing. It’s a mish-mash of the emotions and dispositions of everyone in the office, which makes it very complex, and a little bit volatile. As such, if you can be a positive presence in the office then everyone around you will appreciate it. People react to what’s around them, so if you’re positive, it can help to initiate some sort of lovely domino effect in which everyone else in the office picks up in disposition as well. A happier office is only a benefit, as it makes your fellow employees more upbeat, and will obviously improve productivity. What’s more, it’ll make things nicer for you, too. Nobody wants to work in a miserable office, so being a bright light yourself is a great place to start.
Be a collaborator
There are a lot of people out there who are only interested in seeing themselves succeed. While a desire to do well is admirable, it can only take you so far in a team environment. You can stand out entirely by yourself for a little while, but the more you insist on being selfish, the harder it’s going to make things. People who only care about themselves don’t just step on other people’s toes and create a negative atmosphere – they damage the productivity of the whole office by working on their tasks and their tasks only. In contrast, someone who collaborates lifts themselves up and the people around them. Talk to your coworkers about what they need help with, or projects they might be interested in working on. The more you collaborate with your colleagues, the bigger and better stuff you’ll be able to achieve together – which will have the manifold benefit of distinguishing you, proving that you can work well with others, and doing something positive with those around you.
This might seem slightly paradoxical when we’ve just been extolling the virtues of being a team player – but when we talk about independence, we’re not necessarily talking about being a lone wolf. Rather, independence is the ability to recognize what you need to do by yourself, and set about doing it. Your boss isn’t going to want to handhold you throughout your entire career – they’re going to want to know that you can handle a certain level of responsibility yourself. If you can prove yourself capable of this, not only will it make you look very good, but it’ll also just make you better at your job all-round. Which is always a good thing.