Are You Going Above and Beyond at Work?

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I love having employees who are always open to learning and personal growth.

Over the past two decades, I have mentored hundreds, if not thousands of young professionals and often get the same question, “Why am I not getting a raise or promotion at work?”  And I usually tell them that simply showing up and doing no more than what is expected is the main reason why they are not being promoted.  If you want to move up in your career and professional life, giving an average performance will never result in accolades and high praise. Only those that give outstanding performances at work will get the desired rewards and recognition. Coming from my position as an employer and a client to a vendor, if you have to ask for a promotion or more money from me, that means I think you are doing a good or average job, not AMAZING. I don’t need reminders to acknowledge or recognize someone when I observe the value that they are contributing to my business and clients.

What do I mean by outstanding performances? Years ago, I hired a college intern and told her that since she had never worked before, it would be a non-paid internship, and she would be on a probation period for 90 days. After 90 days, I would re-evaluate the situation based on her performance and decide whether to keep her on or let her go. Can you take a guess what happened? Within 30 days, I was so impressed with her strong work ethic, professional attitude and eagerness to learn, and how receptive she was to constructive feedback that I offered her a part-time position and paid her the same amount as I would someone who already had years of work experience.

Here are a few of the many reasons why I did that:

  1. Proactive Honesty – She shared ideas and suggestions, and was not afraid to speak up if something was bothering her instead of waiting for me to ask.
  2. Punctuality – Even though she was not getting paid for the internship, she showed up at work every time, usually early or right on time, and she always stayed later than expected to learn and prepare herself for the next time she came in to work. (Reminded me of myself when I was younger.)
  3. Polished and Professional Attitude – Her manners and communication style were formal and polished. I never worried about her making me look bad when communicating with clients in person or virtually.
  4. Integrity – She was a very reliable and ethical employee. For someone young, she kept her word once she gave it.
  5. Strong Work Ethic – She worked hard to solve problems and get things done and never once showed any sense of entitlement.
  6. Attention to Details – She was fast but efficient, and I rarely had to correct mistakes.
  7. Coaching and Feedback – She appreciated constructive feedback and was open to opportunities for growth and further learning to improve her skills.
  8. Grounded Energy – She was grounded, unemotional, and sure of herself. This made it a great fit working for me given that I am a passionate, expressive, creative and emotional entrepreneur with a thousand ideas every day. So she balanced me.
  9. Good Listener – Not only was she present at all times, but she was a good listener, and I rarely had to remind her on anything or repeat myself when giving a project for her to work on.
  10. Success-Driven – She was competitive, smart, and results-oriented. While others at work would spend time chit chatting with each other during breaks, she on the other hand would be reading something new and interesting to develop her skills further, or would be catching up on current events to keep up to date. Also, if I suggested a book or introduced something new, she embraced it with excitement and took initiative to explore more.
  11. Accountability – She took ownership of her job and responsibilities and had no problem saying sorry or admitting when she was wrong about something.

There are so many other reasons why I promoted this young intern, but the most important reason for me was that she always had an attitude of gratitude. I loved that she said “thank you,” instead of thanks, and always used the word “please.” Even when working under tight deadlines that were stressful, not once did I hear a complaint about the long hours. I remember complimenting her often and she would share with me about how her parents raised her. And it made a lot of sense. I got my very first job at the Fairfax City Chamber of Commerce as an office clerk at age 14, and my parents advised me to respect my superior, be grateful that I had a job, and always give more than expected. Kudos to her parents for their similarly wise guidance.

So when I hire people to work for me, employee or subcontractors, I usually pay attention to the above in addition to their being service-oriented and problem-solvers with basic common sense. 🙂

I have very high expectations for myself to always do my best and move forward in my life. Working with others that think like me makes it so much easier.

Do you know people who have been in the same job and position in their company for a long time and wonder why they are not being promoted? Perhaps share this post with them. 🙂

Three Life Principles Not To Live By…

photoWant some advice on how to make your life easier?  Then do not apply the three common life principles listed below!

Sure, you might hear these phrases repeated over and over by your friends and family, but honestly they may actually do more harm in your life than good.  Below are some useful advice from Steven Gaffney‘s perspectives on these principles and why he believes they don’t always work.  My own thoughts are shared in italics.  If you’re ready to change your life for the better, then read on to learn more.

Principle 1: Live in the Present
It is good to enjoy the moment, and I do live by this principle – to an extent. For instance, if I’m spending the day with family or friends, I try to focus on them rather than obsessing over business while I pretend to listen to them. In that way, living in the present is great advice. But the trouble is that this principle of living in the moment doesn’t always offer the right perspective. How can it possibly help you make effective business decisions, career decisions, financial decisions, or family decisions? Those decisions require long- term thinking. I love McDonald’s – in the moment. But afterwards McDonald’s doesn’t make me feel so good. Living in the moment is important, but it can make us shortsighted.  I think this is true.  When I was young, I used to live by this principle only, but now I enjoy the present, but plan for the future. And as a result I am much more strategic with my life and business, which has helped ground me.

Principle 2: Treat others the way you want to be treated
The Golden Rule. Hard to argue with, isn’t it? The trouble is that we are profoundly different from one another. Treating people the way you want to be treated often only works with people who are like you. Suppose you’re a meat lover and you’re having a family of vegetarians over for dinner. Should you serve them meat? Of course not ! Life demands that we develop greater flexibility than this principle suggests. The best leaders and managers I know have expanded their capabilities and developed the muscles to adjust to other people’s styles and personalities.  Absolutely true, have you heard of the book The Five Love Languages?  I have learned to understand the love languages of those around me and close to me.  I find that it is very effective and I am able to empower and influence others more easily.

Principle 3: Treat others the way they want to be treated
This sounds kind and loving, but sometimes what people say they want is not what’s best for them. If your friend is an alcoholic and he says he wants a drink, should you give it to him? Or, to be less extreme, think about people who say they want honest feedback but in the next breath tell you that they only want feedback in a particular area or in a certain way. As I discuss in my seminars and coaching sessions, when people set conditions for honesty, it limits honesty because others will use those conditions as a reason not to be truthful. The result is missed opportunities for growth. This may be the way these people want to be treated, but that doesn’t make it the best. This assessment got me thinking about what makes a good guiding life principle. It didn’t take me long to realize that for years I’d been observing a valuable life principle in action, but simply hadn’t realized the power it could have for me.  I am not sure if I agree with this one, but it does make some sense. Your thoughts?

Well, what do you think? Do you agree? If not, I would love to hear your comments. If you would like to read the rest of this, click here for the full article. Stay tuned for Sunday’s post that I will share with you about colors and how they can make a difference in your life. Until then.

~tu-anh