When you first get a job, you show up early, efficiently check things off your to-do list, and leave late. No dilly-dallying for you. The longer you stay with that company, the more lenient you probably become with yourself and tasks. You know how long something is gonna take, so you surf the web and check your Facebook here and there. It’s ok to give your mind a break when it needs it. However, when you aren’t completing tasks to the best of your abilities and aren’t fully accountable for things, then we have a problem. Maybe you are tired of your job, or maybe you merely lost focus. When it’s a matter of focus, just think about that eager new hire you once were and why you were excited to work for that company. Follow these 4 basic job tips that were (and obviously seem like) no-brainers:
1. Stop Using Excuses
Just like your puppy-dog eyes didn’t work to convince your 8th grade teacher that your little sister threw away your math homework, excuses don’t go very far with your boss. No matter how genuine your intentions — “but I had so much on my plate—and then I came down with the flu!” — all your manager will hear is that you don’t use your time effectively.
Here’s a no-fail way to impress your boss: Do what she says. When you have an assignment, don’t make her remind you about it, and don’t ask for an extension. If you have questions, ask them well before the deadline. If you need help from teams in other departments, engage them with time to spare. Do quality work, and turn it in on time.
By completing your work without excuses or constant reminders, you’ll gain your boss’ immediate trust and respect, and you’ll be well on your way to gaining more responsibility — or even a promotion.
2. Show Up on Time
You may think it’s endearing to be labeled the “late one,” who never seems to make it to a meeting before the fifth PowerPoint slide. So you laugh and give a little shoulder shrug as you noisily bustle into the conference room, assuming that everyone just writes it off as, “Oh, that Suzie.”
Well, it’s not cute. And no matter how much you feel it’s a part of who you are, lateness is not an inherent trait. If you’re serious about your job and impressing your team and boss, make it a point to show up on time — or better yet, early.
3. Return Emails
When our communication is so readily at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for leaving your email unanswered for more than a day or two. So, it’s no surprise that you’ll earn instant respect from your entire team (and anyone else who contacts you) if you answer emails in a timely manner.
Don’t know the answer? That’s no excuse to leave the email sitting in your inbox. Write a quick response anyway: “Hi Jan, I’m not 100% sure about this, so let me look into it, and I will get back to you by the end of the week.” Then, get back to her before the end of the week.
We’re not saying you need to answer every email the moment it arrives in your inbox (that’s certainly not an efficient way to work). But when you ignore an email, what you’re conveying to the sender is: “You’re not important enough to warrant a response.”
4. Follow Through
As a new manager in an unfamiliar industry, I don’t always know the answers to my employees’ questions. But instead of just having them ask someone else, I let them know that I’ll find out and get back to them. And then, I follow through. Each time I’m able to deliver an answer, I’m conveying that I do what I say I’m going to do — and my employees grow to trust me more and more.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to answering questions. If you tell a co-worker you’ll proofread her report, don’t push it off until she reminds you about it two weeks later. If you assure your team that you’ll take care of an important client’s account, don’t let it sit on the bottom of your to-do list until one of your co-workers has the customer on the phone, screaming because she hasn’t heard from anyone in over a week. If you make a commitment, follow through — you’ll convey that you can be trusted with anything.