To Our Readers: This week, TLNT is continuing our annual tradition by counting down the 30 most popular and well-read posts of this past year. This is No. 23. Our regular content will return on Monday January 2, 2012.
When you see a “Top 10” list you can usually assume that either the writer is lazy, or he’s just read a book about how much people love “Top 10” lists. Can’t it be both?
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I wrote this for an employee I was about to fire. I wanted a way to tell him why he was losing his job, but in a way that would help him understand what it takes to be successful.
The funny thing about this list is that you don’t have to do all, or even most, of them to be successful. I hope he got the message.
- Take the initiative. If you can do the right thing without being told, you lift a huge burden off your boss’s shoulders — and he’ll have more time for naps.
- Correctly complete the task you’re assigned. When the boss gives you something to do he doesn’t want to wonder if it’ll be done. He should know that it will.
- Don’t give your boss a problem she has to solve for you. She has other things to do. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
- Do more than you’re asked to do. This one trait will set you above 99 percent of everyone else. Too often we forget that our job is to help our employer succeed – and that our duties include finding something productive to do when there’s no task assigned. Clean something!
- Stop multitasking; you aren’t good at it. Study after study has proven that doing more than one thing at once lessens the quality of each thing you’re doing. If you are sure you’re the exception, look up “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”
- Figure it out. Stop pestering the boss for help. It’s your job, so figure out how to get it done. If you need his help, why does he need you?
- Ask questions. Notice that this is different from #6. The questions you should ask are ones like “Can I have this to you by tomorrow?” and “May I bring you my idea for making the clocks faster?” (Assuming you build clocks.) Avoid questions like “Will you type this for me, I’m kind of sleepy?” or “Can I bring my cats to work?”
- Have an opinion when asked. “When asked” is the important part. Your boss will want to know if his idea to round ? to 3.2 is really okay. Tell him the truth, even if the truth is: “Um, probably not.”
- Learn. Unless you like where you are, you have to become more skilled. Learn your boss’s job.
- Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm covers a lot of faults. When we send the dog to fetch a stick and he comes back with a rock we forgive him because he’s excited. I’ll tell you right now that if my dog brought back a rock and was apathetic about it – I’d be pet shopping by suppertime.
- Be efficient. Thomas Edison used to have meetings in the other guy’s office. His reason: “It’s easier for me to leave his office than for him to leave mine.”