Home » News » Getting Ahead at Work

Getting Ahead at Work

We talk a lot about improving your situation, and one of the best ways to improve your financial situation besides starting a budget and keeping control of your expenses… which is of course kind of the base… is generating more income. And one of the most direct and quickest ways to generate more income is to make more money at work. I know, “easier said than done.” But I thought given I’ve been working for 20 years now, I’ve managed people, have had a decent time with my career, and in general have not had a terrible working experience though I’ve worked with some interesting and challenging people, I might have a little to say for people who maybe are much newer to all of this.

As a side note, I am not suggesting I know a ton about this, and most of this you have probably heard before, but all good things are worth repeating, and repeating again. 🙂 I’m just relating what I’ve seen and done.

Stay Busy – this a big one. If you’re working someplace, and you’re bored and don’t have anything to do, you’re most likely not being imaginative enough. You should always being doing something to help out, either your own job or someone elses. People really, really love that stuff. I can say as a manager, I’ve had people constantly come up to me and say okay I’m done with that thing you told me to do, what do I do next. That’s fine every once in a while or when you’re in a particularly focused period of work, but on a day to day basis that gets really annoying real quick. Most people would say well that’ not their fault they don’t have anything to do, WRONG! I’ve been in that situation on both sides, and I have managed people on both ends of the spectrum. The best employees figure out things to do, and are loved for it! Your manager, despite what you might think, is probably busy thinking about something else, every time they need to stop and figure out the next thing for you to do is just sand in the gears for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine line, a kind of dance you need to engage in. If you don’t have something to do, don’t be cleaning the windows, try to be doing something productive with your own work or someone else’s… like your in an office and you’ve finished your daily tasks… is there something in excel you’ve wanted to learn and try, do that. Is there some filing that is all messed up and can be cleaned up? Do that. Is there something you wanted to learn how to do from another employee? Do that. Along the same lines, be the first one to jump at a new thing to do, especially when others are hesitating. All of this is what people call initiative, it’s one of the most important things you can do, and it almost guarantees you advancement.

Don’t Complain – If there is one thing I’ve learned managing people (honestly not really my current co-workers) is that people LOVE to complain!!! It’s literally some people’s favorite past time. Try not to be that person, it will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths that deal with you, and next time their is an opportunity, you are a couple of points down compared to other more positive people. I’m not saying you don’t speak up and speak the truth in situations you need to, but when the office is a little too cold or warm, just keep your mouth shut. It doesn’t matter, thrown on a sweater or bring in a fan. You can say something, but there is a difference between asking and complaining try to learn that difference for your own sake.

Don’t Burn Bridges – People love the idea of sticking it to people they don’t like. That person who just really made you angry all the time, did you wrong at some point, was a jerk to others. Everyone has this deep desire to hit back, to make a last stand on the way out. Honestly, unless it’s something really egregious, just let it go. The world has a weird way of circling back on itself. I have seen many many cases where a person leaves, blowing up a place on the way out, and then low and behold years later some how that person in an indirect way is put at the mercy of someone they hurt on the way out (justified or not). It can be just that, “hey this person is applying for this job, have you heard of them?”… “Ya they did xyz when they left our place, I would never hire them” The sad thing is there are a lot of people walking around in life, thinking that life is unfair because they just keep getting shut out of opportunities when in fact word has gotten around about them. Not a good place to be!

Be Nice – I feel like the biggest key to my career has been just being nice. Every time I went out on a limb to be a jerk for what I thought was justified reasons, it just slapped me in the face. The old saying you catch more flies with honey is so very true. You literally can get more work done I think long-term if people just think you’re pleasant and not out to get other people. That being said, I have seen being a jerk work, but you need to be DARN good at your job, and almost always right, then people tolerate it, but still I think it would be better for those people if they still applied a little grace.

Be Loyal but not too loyal – When you work for a place get behind that place, try to have a little enthusiasm for what they are doing. One it helps motivate you in your job, and two other people like that in co-workers. I know these days everyone is always looking for their dream job with a real deep cause they can get utter satisfaction from, but most people and more time never actually find that perfect fit. So don’t let something imperfect stop you from getting behind the company. Of course I’m not talking about companies that are actually bad, I’m just talking about all the normal companies out there that do normal things. That all being said, don’t fall into the lie of this world that your work is your end all be all identity. Ya it’s important, but don’t be pathetic and make it everything. Be ready to move on to new things, even though you may be loyal to a company, a company cannot be loyal back, always know that and don’t fool yourself otherwise.

Always look to the future – Along the same lines as the point above, make sure you always have a vision of where you want to go. I’m not suggesting like many people do these days that every six months you need to be moving on to the next big thing. But just always have an eye towards where you want to go, and communicate that with people. You’d be surprised at how many people actually enjoy helping people get ahead, and to the places they want to go. In addition, always be doing something that moves you a little closer to those long-term goals.

Don’t make Money the center – This is a funny one, sometimes I’m not sure how much of this has been my attitude and how much of it has been straight luck, as with all things probably a bit of both. But try not to get overly caught up in how much you are paid. I know that is kind of the whole point of work, but it can be a real pit for some people, and I think sometimes hold people back. Threatening to move on to get more money is not always a good idea. Always bringing up the latest salary survey for your position and why you should be in the top 25%, can back fire long-term. Again don’t get me wrong, you should know what you’re worth and make sure people aren’t taking advantage of you, but at the same time having a little patience and grace with your employer can pay off. But if it has been awhile and they are obviously just trying to take advantage of you with what they are paying, just move on. Making a big stink and fighting for your fair pay may work, but honestly you should probably try to find a place that is trying to keep their employees satisfied and not exploit them. I’ve honestly only asked for a raise maybe twice in my life, both way back at the beginning. Since then I’ve worked with people who wanted to keep me around and have generally done well by me.

I’m sure there is a ton of other stuff I could say, about being on time, working hard and being seen working hard :), not being petty about things, and what not but then it would be a book ha ha.

Leave a Reply