While higher education does a great job teaching technical skills, few institutions offer courses on how to be a good employee. In order to become a promotion-worthy worker, your soft skills, like good communication, strong work ethic and sound decision making, must be just as strong as your quantifiable, job-specific talents.
Though interpersonal aptitude requires conscious and continuous effort, small changes can go a long way. Start your transition to office all star with these six tips.
- Choose face-to-face—While you could walk two cubicles down to ask your coworker a question, you likely message or email. Though computer communication is quicker and less disruptive to workflow, there are big benefits to in-person interactions. Voice coach Roger Love explains that sound evokes emotion, creating a connection that just isn’t possible virtually. Body language and vocal tone make in-person communication far more efficient. In turn, collaboration is smoother and decisions are quicker.
- Stretch yourself—Angela Duckworth, author or “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” (Scribner, 2016), says that a willingness to step outside your comfort zone is a valuable quality. Action-oriented employees, who aren’t afraid to fail, can be relied upon to get the job done, even if the task lies outside of their normal duties.
- Be willing to learn—As part of stretching yourself, Duckworth says to continuously learn new skills. Pick something you want to get better at and challenge yourself to meet a related objective. Once you’ve conquered one skill, pick another. Use the people and resources around you; asking for help shows you are humble and determined.
- Act with compassion—According to Adam Grant, a professor at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, being compassionate at work makes your coworkers feel safe. This safety—rather than a fear of consequences—allows for a collaborative spirit of creativity. Moreover, studies have shown that kindness boosts your influence within a team and encourages others to also act with empathy.
- Ask for feedback—Jim Kwik, founder of Kwik Learning and SuperheroYou, believes in self-led performance reviews. “We all have blind spots,” says Kwik, “so asking your colleagues for feedback can be a great way to better understand how you might be getting in your own way.” Learning how to take and apply criticism is a crucial skill not just in the office, but also at home.
- Start and end the day right—Your routine before and after work greatly influences your mindset at work. Employees who arrive rested and enthusiastic every day are more productive and more enjoyable to work with. Mind-body speaker and author Cara Bradley says to start the day by taking five deep breaths and setting an intention. If you drive to work, she recommends doing so in silence or with instrumental music to relax your nervous system before the day’s onslaught of stimulation. At night, take a moment reflect on three mini wins from the workday.
Photo credit: Dylan Gillis, Unsplash