You want to exceed expectations. But it might not be immediately clear what you need to do to excel. Whether you’re just entering a new position or angling for a promotion, you can secure your position within a company if you’re proactive. Here’s how to earn recognition and become an indispensable employee.
It’s common for employees to gripe about their work. But positive workplaces are up to 30% more productive than neutral or negative environments. When you’re faced with new challenges, adopt a solution-focused approach. Try to moderate your initial reaction and choose to respond with optimism—others will pick up on your emotional cues and feel more motivated.
In 2018, researchers at Stanford tested a hypothesis about the connection between a person’s attitude and their brain function. They asked a group of students to solve math problems while an fMRI machine scanned images of their brain. The results showed that students who were confident about their math skills and enjoyed the exercise were more likely to solve the problems correctly. The scans also showed the students who did well had more neural activity in the hippocampus region of their brain, the epicenter for memory and learning. Based on these results, it seems like a positive attitude might actually boost performance and facilitate problem-solving long term.
People gravitate toward positive influences, and a little optimism could even make your brain work better.
It can be easy to view your role or department as the most important in an organization. For example, someone in a C-suite position might not fully appreciate the customer experience because they don’t interact with their users directly. But the best-performing employees deliberately seek out new perspectives—and then integrate that information through the lens of profitability.
You’ll need to consider four key areas to determine how you can contribute to the profitability of your company:
By evaluating your company’s profitability, you can decide how you want to approach new initiatives within the company. If you can influence any of these three stages—and communicate those achievements to the leaders at your organization—you’ll be recognized as a key contributor at work.
Did you know Play-Doh was originally created to clean wallpaper? The compound was invented in 1933 when coal furnaces were popular; people frequently used the material to remove soot buildup. But when oil and gas furnaces were introduced into the market in the middle of the 20th century, people didn’t need wallpaper cleaners anymore. The family business teetered on the precipice of failure—but then they discovered kids loved playing with the compound. Thanks to quick-thinking and creativity, the company rebranded their product as one of the best-selling toys to date.
This is just one example of creativity’s transformative impact on a business. Every professional understands the key to a company’s success is their ability to distinguish themselves from their competitors. It stands to reason, then, that the employees driving performance are the ones who challenge the status quo.
Worldwide, poor communication cost businesses an estimated $37 billion in just one year. Collaborating between regions and departments is even more challenging today than ever before—employees can’t rely on having face-to-face conversations to resolve every situation. As more companies expand and hire remote workers, employers increasingly look to individuals with language skills. If you can connect with people over the phone, in video, and through written correspondences, you’ll save yourself time, money, and frustration.
The professional arena is rife with potential communication gaps, but there are steps you can take to clarify your message. Here are a few tips for honing your communication skills at work:
A survey from Pew Research Center in 2015 shows that 54% of workers believe continuous training will be essential to their career success. Respondents with college degrees were more likely to prioritize ongoing training—possibly indicating that the most qualified individuals are also the most committed to learning new skills.
To stand apart from your peers, you can’t grow complacent. The people who succeed professionally are invested in their work inside and outside the office. Follow developments in your industry. Set up media alerts, and register for newsletters. You can also search for career-focused panels that will help you learn about new developments and techniques.
Integrity is crucial at every level of your business. Its implications are perhaps most widely felt at the top—C-level executives set standards for the company culture. They develop networks inside and outside an organization and receive the most public scrutiny. If you have plans to advance, you’ll need to demonstrate a consistent record of integrity. Be honest, moral, and respectful, even when that means you’ll need be brave and work harder. The social network you develop at the office will influence your tenure as much as your professional contributions.
In 2018, the median tenure for wage and salary workers in the United States was 3.8 years. For a variety of circumstances—offshoring, restructuring, voluntary leaves, and forced transitions—today’s workforce doesn’t stay with the same company for long. To stay in demand, you need to have a plan. Proving your value at the company is key to achieving job security and climbing the corporate ladder.
— Rachel Lake
This story originally appeared on Ivy Exec. Rachel Lake is the Content Manager at Ivy Exec. Based in New York City, Rachel holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.