- Aim for Excellence - Obvious, right? But 99% of people usually settle for good enough. When was the last time you even saw top 1% excellence? It’s difficult to achieve and requires a person to be fanatically focused on continual improvement, but when people see excellence, they vividly remember it and who was responsible for it. By aiming for excellence, even if you fall a little short, you will still have achieved greatness.
- Do Everything You Can to Make the People Around You Successful - The most annoying coworker is someone who is continually a bottleneck for other peoples’ success. The best is one that you know is on your side and will back you up in a pinch.
- Work (Live) in the Present - The past is the past and no matter how frustrated you are by a change in strategy, new assignment, or missed promotion, you simply have to find a way to accept it and move on. After which you will be amazed at the degree to which your mental health, reputation, and productivity soar.
- 90% of Your Job is to Make Your Boss’s Life Easier - this isn’t to say you should become their personal slave, but the more you can help them with their priorities, provide them with what they need before they have to ask for it, and just generally get along with everyone else on the team, the better your next performance review is going to go.
- Never Dis the Product - You are much more influential than you think. If you speak ill of the products, projects or campaigns you are working on, people will believe you and begin to question your value as well. Portray your work as positively as possible, and save the criticism and tough questions for more private settings with your manager and immediate team. I got this advice from a former boss, who hit the nail right on the head.
- Don’t Find a Mentor, Find Seven - developing relationships with your peers is important, but so is finding more experienced co-workers who can impart hard won wisdoms and give sage advice. The more mentors you have, the more likely it is that you will have someone to turn to who can help you overcome any challenge you may face down the road.
- Attend Work Social Events - Sure, you would rather hang with your actual friends, but company social events are a fantastic way to both develop relationships with people in the company with which you don’t work directly and to relieve some of the stress that builds up with those co-workers with which you work all too closely.
- Set Goals With Your Manager, Write Them Down, and Follow Up - Aligning expectations in advance will help create a shared definition of success and allows you to work with the confidence of knowing exactly where you stand and where you need to go. Plus, when it comes time to push for a promotion, it helps to be armed with clear examples of your over performance.
- Ask for a Comprehensive Performance Review at Least Once a Year - This is usually a given at larger companies, but they are often absent at smaller ones. Piecemeal feedback throughout the year is important, but a structured, balanced and honest annual review will not only help you prioritize your self improvement efforts, but also help you celebrate improvement from year to year. If you struggle to take constructive criticism unemotionally, promise yourself you will not discuss or debate what you hear while you are in the meeting. Instead, take the report home with you, consider it, possibly run it by a couple of trusted confidants, and once you have had time to objectively process it, follow up with your manager about any questions or ideas for improvement.
- Don’t email when you can call, don’t call when you can speak face to face - It is much harder to build alignment from a distance. Not only doesn’t it take longer to answer nuanced or complex questions by email, but it is harder to say “no” to someone in person than it is to a faceless screen.
- Use 100% of Your Vacation Time - Never feel guilty about taking PTO! Recharging your emotional batteries is critical to long and short term success. How critical? NASA scientists determined vacation goers were 82% more productive post trip!
Good luck and happy New Year!!
Author: Chris Russell