Building value as an employee –
Since we were young, we have been groomed to show follow instructions and receive a paycheck after the appropriate task or amount of time has been completed.
In a time where unemployment is low, but underemployment is high, the perspective an employee has can have many unintended consequences, good or bad.
Yes, being dependable and simply doing one’s job is the key to maintaining a position, but if we spend half of our time (or more) awake each day at work, why not try to take more away from it than a paycheck, and why not contribute to the success of the employer or even the positive vibes of coworkers and counterparts who we spend so much time around?
After achieving the basics of dependability and competency at one’s job, the thing that will help move an employee ahead farthest in life is to bring real value to one’s work place.
What is value? Well, every workplace is different. It has a different culture, different goals, and different desired outcomes. When building value as an employee, the first thing one needs is perspective. Perspective starts with the mindset of “What can I do to make my boss’s job easier, and how can I contribute to the goals of the team or business?”
This might seem like a canned quote, but it can be quite powerful… It doesn’t mean working longer or harder than expected in most cases. What is really means is that you find it in your heart to truly desire everyone’s success and you genuinely want to play a part in that success. Once you can commit yourself to being an asset amongst your piers, the next thing is to focus on the big picture and look outside of your core job description.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What can I do to make this process more efficient?
- Can I complete a task sooner which will allow others to move forward with their tasks earlier?
- Is there something that I could improve which will help the team or the end goal?
- Is there something I can take off of my boss’s plate?
- How can I make my position more useful to my coworkers who’s positions interact with mine?
- Can I do anything to reduce costs or maximize productivity?
Every job is different, so these are just a few examples. You will have to think of how building value as an employee applies to your specific job.
The next thing, which is HUGE is to bring an element of positivity to your work environment. I’m not talking about being something your not, or playing like you have a bubbly energetic personality if that isn’t you. What I mean is that you genuinely desire to experience positivity in your daily routine and hope to share and grow the good vibes around yourself. It may sound cheesy, but this is what people will remember you for.
In the past, I was an employee at a firm that had a routine of drawing prizes from a box when things were going good. It was my first week.
The prizes were things like movie tickets, vouchers towards food ($15-$25 or so) and there was one $500.00 prize.
Everybody took their turn and I didn’t even know what was going on. When it was my turn, I drew the $500.00 prize. I noticed a gasp from pretty much everyone, and later learned that they had been chasing the phantom $500.00 for several months, probably closer to a year.
At this point, I realized that I can’t just take the money and run, it would reflect poorly on me.
This boss was the company owner. He was using the drawings as a reward for good work, which I hadn’t had a chance to perform yet. So I could have done something out of guilt and self-preservation like spend $30.00 on pizza for the team, but instead I genuinely wanted to share this reward. Not all of it, but a substantial amount, so I bought everyone Chipotle and we had a company lunch. There were about 15 of us, so the cost was substantial, but I still went home with about $300 I didn’t expect previously. I could have definitely used $200.00 more at this point in life, but in this instance, I set a precedent for myself with my coworkers that I cared about the team as much as myself, and that was worth far more than $200.00
Ultimately, that was one of the worst jobs I ever had. There was a lot of bad energy surrounding the workplace. Lots of cussing and diminishment of employees and their work, but I always took the high road. I figured I could stay above it and not allow myself to be caught up in the drama, or I could allow the bad vibes to dictate my interaction with others. When I left a year later, I guarantee that every person in that company would have given me an amazing reference. At the end of the day, I sincerely wanted to see everyone succeed and I wanted to be a part of the company’s success. I wanted to enjoy my time there, and I wanted to bring others up who were around me. The surprising thing is that I observed a very noticeable influence I had over the way others made it through their day.
In this instance, I wanted to have all of that negative energy our of my life so I cut ties with anything related to that company, but I have set the same president at every job since, and I now have more A+ references and coworkers who loved working with me than I could ever imagine. There are very real and tangible positive consequences for being known as the coolest or nicest or most genuine employee, and the benefits can last a lifetime. Benefits that reach beyond just good references. Although having a team of advocates behind you during every application process can set you miles ahead of others who are more experienced and qualified.
If we are going to spend about half of our time awake in the workplace, why not find it in your heart to want your position to be as useful to those around you as possible? Why not choose to want to lift those up around you and experience the influence of your own positivity being shown back to you by others.
If you’re spending so much of your life at work, why not find ways to be the most valuable employee in your own mind and in others, whether you ever get a shred of recognition for it or not. The reward is in the results.
Building Value as an Employee
Article by Mike Gamache, Freelance Journalist, coloradomountainlife.com