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The 15 Defining Habits Of Successful Employees

David Law

Tue, 19 Nov, 2019

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 5 minutes

Sometimes, when you’re working as an employee for someone else’s business and vision, you might feel that professional success is difficult to find. How do you measure it? Promotions? And how do you get there?


First, no matter whether you’re self-employed or working as an employee, you need to have a game plan. You’ve gotta know where you want to get to and why you want to get there. Once you have a goal and a plan, if you’re an employee, you only have to work away at creating habits that will get you to the top.


You can start with these.


1. They know how to say no.


If you’ve ever set a professional goal, you know there are a lot of things that will try to get your attention and distract you from what you’re trying to achieve. So, instead of taking on all the projects and tasks that come your way, know your limits. 


Every day, before you start working, review your goals and schedule the crucial tasks to achieve them. This way, you’ll be able to get to your destination while also fitting less important tasks in the time that remains free.


2. They’re good at self-motivation.


If your manager has to get you motivated enough to do the work, you won’t come across as very passionate about your career. When you want to stand out from the crowd of regular employees, you’ve got to learn to start your own fire. What vision gets you going? What mindset has you going the extra mile? Know thyself!



3. They make allies vertically and horizontally.


First, do you know your manager’s manager? Do they know you? Getting noticed (in a positive light, of course) by the higher-ups in management is important to the growth of your career. They’re making the big decisions— including whether or not you get promoted.


But don’t let your frenzy of vertical networking keep you from making allies on a more horizontal level, all across the business. It’s one thing for the manager to like you— quite another for everyone (including teammates, occasional collaborators, maintenance crew, etc.) to be happy working alongside you. If you’re appreciated by the whole team, your success will be more organic, sure, and lasting. 


4. They cultivate a manager’s mindset.


When you’re stuck in a regular employee’s mindset, you’re waiting for someone else (your manager) to give you instructions and set a goal for you. But if you want to get promoted and be the manager, you’ve got to adopt a manager’s mindset now. 


That means developing a strategy and paying attention to more than just your own tasks: you’ll have to pay attention to how your teammates are doing and be proactive in offering help and solutions. 


5. They take action.


Take the initiative. If you or your team are met with a roadblock, don’t wait for someone else (again, probably your manager) to solve it. Instead, find creative and collaborative ways you can all work to shift the situation for the better. Let the change start with you. 


6. They’re open to feedback.


Typically, when your manager or someone on your team gives you feedback, it’s not a personal attack. They just want the team (and you, as part of the team) to do better and reach the objectives. 


No one has the perfect formula for everything— everyone’s approach can teach you something new. So, to be able to grow, you need to pay attention to constructive criticism, reflect on it, and put it into action.


7. They focus on learning.


In that same spirit, train your brain to see the learning opportunities everywhere around you. There’s something to be learnt from every situation— especially the most complicated ones! Make it a goal to add new skills to your toolset, talk to experts in the field, and attend meetings or conferences that will further your specialised abilities. 


8. They know the power of punctuality.


When someone’s late on a regular basis, people are going to assume they’re irresponsible in other aspects of their lives and jobs. Not a good look. Plus, if you arrive on time, you’ll be cool and collected when it’s time to jump into the relevant conversations.


9. They always stay professional.


Behave with integrity, stick to your code of ethics. No one wants to be near a coworker that’s aggressive, gossipy, or that has a reputation for poor work and unreliability. Become someone you’d be happy to associate with.


10. They keep a positive mindset.


There will always be problems, unforeseen roadblocks, and low team morale— it’s up to you to change the atmosphere. Train yourself to approach negative situations from a positive standpoint. Of course, that doesn’t mean ignoring the issue, but staying optimistic and finding ways you can do something to change it.


11. They manage themselves.


Independence and self-management are valuable traits in employees, even more so in managers. Besides, if you think of yourself as your own manager, you’ll have your manager’s attention 24/7— pretty useful! 


What to do? Set your goals and schedule, figure out what you need to do a great job, and go to your actual manager for anything you can’t change on your own. If you come to them with a viable solution or two, they’re more likely to help you on a tight schedule (and be impressed by your initiative, too!).


12. They’re not afraid to speak up.


When you’re at a sector or team meeting, the presence of other employees and managers (with, perhaps, more experience or perceived authority) might have you shrinking into your seat and into silence— and that would be a mistake. Of course, we’re not telling you to just spout off random facts about a topic you don’t know anything about!


Rather, when you’re in that meeting, focus on finding the right opportunities to volunteer what you do know, your own ideas. If you don’t contribute to the discussion, you won’t get noticed— and, in consequence, you won’t get promoted. But if you become the person who always has a shrewd observation or a creative solution to the problem at hand, you’ll be much better off.


13. They truly pay attention.


Think of how you feel when someone is talking to you only to start looking out of the window or, worse, get absorbed in their phone. Not very pleasant, right? You most likely feel that the interaction (and, by extension, yourself) isn’t very important to them. You might not want to converse with them any longer, much less give them a promotion. 


Moral of the story: pay attention to people. How to do so? Start by putting away your phone and other devices, and avoid doing other tasks while interacting. Then, practice active listening: try to understand instead of preparing your own rebuttal, nod and make eye contact, and ask insightful questions about the topic at hand. In our busy and distracted era, doing this will set you apart.


14. They work with pressure.


Not against it. When something needs to be done, like, yesterday, complaining, collapsing or avoiding are no good. Instead of going against the current of what you have to do, start thinking of pressure as an engine pushing you forward, out of your comfort zone, and into new zones of potential. 


15. They always aim upwards.


After you’ve reached the promotion or goal you were going for, your first instinct might be to settle down and enjoy your success comfortably. And that’s okay— for a little bit! What all truly successful employees (and professionals in general) have in common is a constant thirst for higher and better things. 


The reality is that your potential is endless: you have the chance to create a long, successful, and fulfilling career that goes way beyond anything you can imagine right now. The key is to work hard at building daily habits that nourish your growth and think of every small milestone as a step in the ladder to greatness. We believe in you— do you believe in yourself? 


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