It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out on your career or if you have years of experience behind you - making sure you have the right attitude and approach is vital.
And having the right attitude does not come about by accident; it comes from establishing the very best working practices and habits.
When I am looking to employ or promote people, one of the key qualities I always look for is a thirst for excellence. The very best people, in any walk of life, are those who are constantly challenging themselves and are setting themselves new targets.
And if you want to be one of those characters who is always looking to move forward and better themselves then you need to have the kind of working habits in place that will lead to success. Here are a few examples:
There is an old saying that says if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards, and this is especially true in career terms. Are you somebody who is happy with your current skill set, or do you actively look to improve? If it is the latter, then you are exactly the sort of person most bosses look for. Put yourself forward for training courses, learn new skills - the more you push yourself and expand your skill set, the more valuable you become to your current and potential employers.
This is basically about being proactive and removing yourself from your individual bubble. Think about the wider aims of the business you work for. Where could things improve, where could even more value be added? By having the overall vision of the business in your head, you will find new ways to generate revenue, brand awareness, or any other goals senior managers might have.
There is nothing better for a manager than to see his or her employees actively taking ownership of projects. Equally, nobody wants to be seen as someone who passes the buck. If something falls under your remit, ensure you are the one who sees it through – even if you inevitably have to delegate certain aspects of it.
I have spoken before about having the ability to ignore what I call the ‘noise’. This means being able to prioritise between the essential and non-essential, and focusing your energies on things that add the most value. Too many employees tend to get caught up in the ‘nice to have’ activities rather than things which are more critical to the business. The other advantage of prioritising your workload is that the quality ends up being far better. If you have ten things you need to get done, I would much rather you produced outstanding results on the most important ones, rather than mediocre results on all ten.
Throughout my career I have always been in the habit of regularly assessing my work and personal performance. At regular intervals I will analyse what I’ve done, how my businesses have performed and what I need to do differently. By having this ability to reflect – and sometimes criticise yourself - you are making sure lessons are learnt every step of the way.