Finally, after being jobless for 1 ½ years after my graduation, I now have a good job in a good company. I say it is a good job because it fits my qualifications, e.g. my college degree, my interests and my needs. I say good company because its compensation package is good and the people (my boss and colleagues) are all nice to me.
I want to stay in this company. Will you give me some tips that will help me become a good employee so that I will retain my job and even progress in my career? Am I an “eager beaver”?
Mr. Eager Beaver
Congratulations for wanting to be successful in your first job and desiring to build your career in your company! You are the first person who has written me who is not seeking advice on a work/career issue. Your great desire is to be good in your job, so that you can keep it, the company can keep you and you can advance in your career.
In my book Managing Work and Career (New Day publishers, 2003) I wrote a chapter on “Get a New Start in your New Job” and another on “How to Keep Your Job” from which I’ll be quoting pertinent portions.
Most likely you will be on probation for six months during which you are going to be closely observed by how well and how fast you learn how to do your job according to the standards of your supervisor, by your work behaviors (such as punctuality on time and on submission of work) and by your work attitudes . The high quality and timeliness of your work, your ability to get along with your supervisor and peers, your teachability, your continuous efforts to improve yourself and what you do, etc. — all these are observed and evaluated.
To be successful in your job requires the following things:
- Knowing the duties and responsibilities of your job and doing an excellent job.
- Knowing the required competencies required to do these duties and responsibilities and making sure that you acquire these competencies.
- Knowing and appreciating your company: its mission, vision and core values and how these values are to be expressed in behaviors, attitudes and performance.
- Having a good and positive interpersonal relationship with your team leader/supervisor and co-team members.
- Participating actively during meetings.
- Having an attitude of continuous improvement of your outputs and the process you use to produce it
- Fast tracking your development
Do excellent work. Clarify with your team leader/manager your understanding of the duties and responsibilities of your position, the standards of performance, timetables, and the like. These standards are used to evaluate your work outputs. Ask your leader how he/she wants a task to be done, what are the results expected of you, and by when, in quantitative and qualitative terms. In fact, it’s not enough to meet the current standards. You have to exceed these standards. An example: for one in sales, ‘making two more calls”, exceeding the monthly quota by 50%, giving a complete report a week before it is due, and the like. You do not merely satisfy your customer; you must delight them; make them your “raving fans” — jargons that we have barrowed from the US corporate world.
Required competencies. When you develop competencies required to perform your job according to the standards of your internal customers, you are also developing yourself and acquiring personal mastery that results in your feeling self-empowered. You will be appraised by the level you have progressed on these competencies on a continuum.
Know and appreciate your company. Know and understand the mission, vision and core values of your company. Know its products and services. If you are working in a consumer company, be sure that you use and patronize its products and services and not those of its competitors. Market your company’s products and services among members of your family, relatives and friends.
The core values are what make one company different from another. They affect all aspects of the business – from the quality of products produced or what kind of service is given external customers, to how employees (internal customers) are treated. They determine what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. A new employee must be sensitive to what behaviors are approved of or censured, and listen to his leader/manager and the senior team members, on what “should” or “should not” be done.
Good and positive interpersonal relationships. You must be sensitive to how you affect others. Understand how your work responsibilities and outputs affect your leader/manager and your peers, and how their work, in turn, affects you. Your leader/manager is your No.1 customer; it is his/her standards that prevail. So you must frequently seek his/her feedback on how he/she evaluates your work and seek his/her suggestions on how to improve it. Be a team player. Be helpful to your co-team members so that they, in turn, will help you when you need their help. The quality (accuracy, completeness, etc.) of your work and your dependability in meeting deadlines will make them trust you. Doing re-work is expensive.
Active participation during meetings. Add your value to every meeting that you attend by active participation. Be prepared for meetings by knowing the agenda so that you can do your research and contribute useful opinions and researched data. No-no’s during meetings include: texting or making calls thru your cellphone, bringing your work and doing it while the meeting is on-going, holding another meeting with others, or looking bored and yawning. These are negative behaviors that show disrespect for those who are participating.
An attitude of continuous improvement. If you do your job mechanically, that’s the start of boredom. There are senior employees who do the same things year in and year out because they are settled in their “comfort zone”. Continue to improve your output and your process. Never be contended with the “bahala na”, “ok na ‘yan”, “pwede n’yan”, and the like. Seek the opinions and suggestions of your external and internal customers on how you can improve. Ask your team leader how your work can be improved. Challenge yourself to build lasting relationship with your external customers so that they continue to prescribe your products and be loyal customers.
Fast-track your development. Having a career goal towards which you focus your learning and development will help you see opportunities when you recognize them. The notion of career advancement as “moving up “ is no longer possible in today’s “lean and mean” organizations. Promotion to the next step in the ladder is hard to come by. Career moves are often lateral and this is advantageous because you will be acquiring additional competencies. Welcome multiple tasking as a way of acquiring more and varied skills. Being multi-tasked, multi-skilled or using your multiple talents will increase your career options. If you have a good relationship with your boss because you are helping him/her meet his/her team goals, you can ask him/her to coach you in areas where you can still improve. Cross-functional teams being the way projects are now done will expose you to varied work environments and to interact with a diversity of talents.
Doing your work excellently, according to the standards of your internal and external customers, enjoying doing your work, and continuously improving it, will get you off to a good start in your new job.
No, you are not an eager beaver. You re an enthusiastic beginner ready and willing to conquer the world! Do not be disillusioned though if things do not go as you expect them. Continue to be self-motivated in doing the above suggestions. You will eventually reap the fruit of your proactivity.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria