“Business” is a very big and broad term, encompassing almost every industry in which a person could have a career. Make no mistake, though, there are some universal skill sets that employers of all kinds value and look for in their new hires. These same skills also apply when managers are considering promoting team members. Whether you sell advertising, sort documents, or stock medical supplies, mastering these essentials will give you a great foundation for success.
While it’s important to have specialized skills like knowledge of coding or the sales process, success is often rooted in something far more basic: simply being a good employee when it comes to workplace fundamentals. If you’re looking to get ahead, make sure you’re arriving on time (or early). Follow the company’s dress code and code of conduct. Follow HR procedures about paid time off and taking breaks. Don’t miss deadlines or leave early without notice. Respond to emails and return phone calls in a timely fashion. If these sound basic to you, that’s good! It means you’re probably already doing them and setting yourself up for success.
It’s certainly not always possible to be bright and sunny at work a hundred percent of the time. That said, at a base level, people are drawn to positive people and tend to avoid negative ones. Having a can-do attitude, or at least a “no sweat” attitude will help others around you feel more confident in both your abilities and the workplace culture.
Conversely, if you constantly have knee-jerk overreactions and act like the sky is falling, you will isolate yourself because coworkers will be anxious about your nervous, negative energy. If you can’t stay positive, take a deep breath and stay calm. It’s okay to vent to a colleague or supervisor from time to time but make serious efforts not to lose your cool.
For most managers, an ideal employee is one they can train and set loose without having to worry about them. They have plenty on their plate and the last thing they want to do is babysit their direct reports. Of course, they are there to support you and provide resources and guidance. So how do you walk the balance beam between being perceived as needy and getting the managerial help you need?
There are three basic keys to this. First, when you don’t know exactly what to do about something, resist the urge to immediately kick it up to your manager. Take some time to explore and see if you can problem-solve on your own. Second, if you can’t figure it out on your own,
present your manager with what you think would be a good solution. It’s far quicker and easier for them to say “yes, let’s go with that” than to have to dream up the solution themselves. If the answer is “no” they will at least appreciate your effort.
Finally, when approaching your manager for help through email or phone calls, keep it short and sweet. Give them the broad strokes. If they need more detail, they will surely ask you for it.
Willingness to Take On Additional Tasks
Simply put: to prove you’re able to advance in your career, you must walk the walk. Volunteer for special projects, or to help when someone is out or overwhelmed. Being a “go-to” person is a wonderful reputation to have and a key to success.
Personal Responsibility and Accountability
Lastly, understand that as your career progresses, you will take on additional responsibilities along the way. You will be held accountable to make sure these tasks are done and done well, whether you are doing them yourself or supervising the person who is doing them. The best way to prepare yourself for this is to adopt a self-accountability mindset early.
Take ownership of assigned duties, plan out timelines and steps that need to be taken to make progress. Set checkpoints and goals along the way. Hold yourself as (if not more) accountable to hit these marks than your supervisors would.
The Bottom Line
Success is often more about how a person performs rather than what they can do. Master these skills, and you may be surprised to see how easily success comes your way!