If you show up at work every day on time and do your job the best you can, is that enough to be considered a great employee and even advance at work? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no’ in most jobs – that would only be enough to make you an average employee. But average employees don’t often get recognized or promoted.
So, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing every day, why isn’t that enough? What else should you be doing?
There are so many things you could do to become a better employee (and more valued). I could list 50 things for you and they all fall in the category of ‘going above and beyond.’
For example, you could be more helpful to others on your team, you could volunteer for or spearhead projects, you could brand yourself as the ‘go to’ person, you could work longer hours to show your dedication, you could be more available off hours, you could offer up more innovative ideas, and you can stop gossiping and/or complaining with your co-workers and always display a positive attitude.
The list can go on and on and most people know they could do these things but the problem is, most people don’t feel like doing them. Many do try to do some but if what they try to do are not things they really want to do, they won’t do them consistently in a way that impresses others and it won’t last – they’ll eventually decide it’s not worth it and stop doing them.
So, that begs the question, what can you do if you really want to become a better employee?
Change How You Think
First of all, you must recognize that thoughts and beliefs will always trump outward behavior and must come first. If you do certain things just so you can be seen as a better employee, and not because you really want to do them, your actions will fall flat on their face.
The one real thing you can do to truly become a better employee is change how you think. And if you work hard at it, you will authentically want to do many of the things that go above and beyond your work responsibilities and subsequently you will become a better employee.
Do you dislike your job or certain people you work with? Are you not challenged at work? Is the work boring? Is your boss mean? Are you treated unfairly? Do you feel you aren’t valued? Are you not getting paid enough? Are you in a lower level job than what you feel you deserve? Have you been passed over for promotions?
Most people have issues like these at work and simply can’t be a better employee because of them. Many don’t even realize why what they are doing to better themselves doesn’t work. Doing what is expected versus what we want to do is the norm in the work force. But when you really care and want to do something, it doesn’t compare with doing something you think you ‘should’ do.
In reality, everything about your job is neutral – it’s not good or bad. It can only become bad, stressful, overwhelming, or miserable because your thoughts tell you it is. But it can become good that way too. There are people who love jobs far worse than yours and hate jobs far better than yours.
Your thoughts about your job, whatever they are, are just that – thoughts. You don’t have to accept every thought that pops in your head. Your thoughts were created by you based upon the beliefs you formed over your lifetime thus far. You were conditioned to think in the way that you do. They don’t represent who you are as a person and therefore you can change them.
Many of your thoughts about work are triggered by your job and are not caused by your job. Most issues we have at work have to do with other people. Issues with other people, (our boss or our co-workers) are typically triggers from our past. When someone says or does something that upsets or angers us it’s really just triggering a past hurt. That’s why not all people get upset or offended by the same things.
We label the behaviors we don’t like in others and call them “mean people”. But because of our past conditioning, we unconsciously look for (and even create) those traits in others just to prove we are right about our own beliefs. But the truth is, if people at this job trigger us, we will be triggered by others in any job. And there will always be at least one person, in every job, who will trigger our own issues.
It’s very important to recognize that other people are simply mirrors – they point out our weaknesses and insecurities and unfortunately, we often don’t like them for that.
Bosses and co-workers who truly act mean are people who are not dealing well with their own issues. All people, at their core, really are good people (believe it or not). People act mean when they are acting out of fear – which can manifest as anger, jealousy, harsh criticism, resentment, or any other negative trait. The more issues they have, the more hateful they can be. If you can recognize that other people’s behavior towards you is just a snapshot of what is going on inside them – that it truly has nothing to do with you – you wouldn’t take it personally therefore you would think and act different.
Thoughts come before behaviors but many people act in reverse. They try to put behaviors in place even though they think and feel different about them. For example, they volunteer for something they don’t want to do. If you work hard to question your own thoughts by consistently asking yourself why you feel the way you do, at the moment something triggers you (and really drill into it) you will discover a lot about yourself that you likely are not even aware of on a conscious level.
You can change how you think about anything even if it’s just asking yourself why you think the work you do is boring. If the thoughts in your head didn’t tell you your work was boring, your work tasks would simply be neutral. It’s up to you to decide what to think about it.
You are not your thoughts – the annoying voice that chatters in your head all day every day. If you can work hard at questioning and silencing that voice, you will naturally act differently and that is the only way to authentically become a better employee.
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