After seven years, the time has come to say farewell. I’ve truly enjoyed writing about careers and jobs every week, and loved hearing from readers.
As a parting gift, I’d like to leave you with my best (and easiest) tips for career success and overall workplace happiness.
Pick a positive quality you want to be known for. Of course, you have more than one positive quality. But if you make a point of associating yourself with a single great trait, like always being on time or always appearing alert and cheerful, then people will think of that “great trait” every time they see you. This is a good thing.
Have a Plan B. If a delivery doesn’t arrive, what will you do? If a colleague fails to perform, how will you respond? Being prepared for potential problems keeps you two steps ahead, meaning that when everyone else is freaking out, you can be the cool one. It’s a really fabulous “great trait,” by the way.
Keep a paper trail. Put assignments and decisions in writing. Submit updates in emails or memos or even texts. Many disputes can be resolved and problems avoided simply by being able to point to your excellent notes.
Always do what you say you’re going to do. Being über-reliable is a surprisingly original way to stand out from the crowd. So meet your deadlines. Keep your promises.
If you’re asked to do or say something that’s dishonest or unethical, politely decline. You needn’t come off as all holier-than-thou. Just smile and say something like, “Well, you know, I can’t do that.” Very often the smallest amount of pushback is all that’s needed. If this approach doesn’t work, or if you find yourself facing this dilemma often, consider that you may be in the wrong job.
Treat everyone the same. You absolutely do not have to grovel or toady to the powers-that-be. Nor should you treat support staff or people “lower” than you as anything other than valued colleagues. Be kind, reasonable, sane and generous to all.
Finally, never hesitate to ask questions. Too often we’re afraid to ask “why” or “how” for fear of not seeming smart or prepared. We may even be tempted to act as if we already know everything. Don’t. Questions are the best — the only! — way to learn.
Have a great career, and a great life.