Shine at Work: Guidelines IV (13-20)

Shine at Work: Guidelines III (7-12)

 … continue

  1. Be valuable

Being valuable means taking initiatives to do what is beyond the call of duty. It means being an excellent team player, positive, dependable, reliable, and doing what needs to be done on time. It is true that no one is indispensable in this world. But you should strive to make yourself valuable in the team you work in. To gain promotion and to shine at work, make “be valuable” be a silent part of your career goals. It means that it may not be a written goal, but you need to keep it in mind every time.

You need to do the activities and tasks in such a way that you make yourself valuable. You can make yourself valuable by striving to be a key competitive advantage to your team. When you take this career promotion advice to heart you increase your chances to gain promotion.

  1. Be reliable

Being reliable means to be able to dependent upon for getting the work done, support, or help. You can become a reliable employee by changing attitudes and aligning your needs and aspirations with that of the organization.

    • If you cannot come in for work or will be late than usual, call in or send an email or text message well ahead of time.
    • Ensure to do your job with minimal error.
    • Have impeccable work habits. This means being on time to work and working to your potential without compromising on quality.
    • Ensure to complete work on time—with the required quality.
    • Be willing to pay attention, follow directions and do the job.
    • Take responsibility for what you do. This includes being accountable for any mistakes you make.
  1. Communicate proactively

We all know that communication skills form a very important part of a successful career profile. Why only in career, communication is very important in any relationship that is formed—personal and/or professional. Knowledge, expertise, and opinions are only a part of the career-centric process. Communication in any form must be simple and straightforward.

    • Communicate your problems and issues to the person you report to.
    • Communicate the project status and information with your colleagues who are involved in the same project.
    • Do not withhold information. It will not make you important. On the contrary, it will have a negative impact on the project.
    • Articulate your thoughts clearly whether it’s in person, on the phone or through email.
    • Reply to emails on time; be courteous and polite in your communication.

Be honest about your progress at work. If you are struggling with an assignment or about to miss a deadline, let your manager or team leader know about it. Keep them in the loop, instead of leaving them to know about it a later stage. Make sure you manage expectations and stay honest about your progress. This is also about communication.

10. Show enthusiasm

Be enthusiastic at work. Do every task with equal passion and enthusiasm. When you put enthusiasm into every task, work becomes easier and lighter. You begin to enjoy it too. This will help you complete the tasks with more accuracy and speed.

You may not be aware of it, but enthusiasm is contagious. It doesn’t just fuel you alone—the feeling of passion in you gets easily transferred to fellow teammates. It then fuels them to work harder for that common goal. When you work with enthusiasm, you naturally shine at work.

  1. Be flexible and adaptable

These days, technologies change very frequently. The workplace is dynamic and change of any form is inevitable.

    • Projects change—projects plans are made and then scrapped, and new ones are suggested.
    • Keep up with the changing technology and the changing times. Better, keep learning and stay ahead of it.
    • The HR policies can change. Change your mindset with it. If you don’t like it, change the company.

Be aware that you can’t control everything. Be ready and willing to compromise and embrace change. It is also good to be prepared for the unexpected.

12. Take initiative

Do not have a laid-back attitude (especially when you are new to the company). Look for challenges and learn to meet them.

    • Take initiative, come up with newer ideas, new processes.
    • Pick challenging situations and handle them successfully.
    • Do all the activities the right way and put in your efforts in the right direction.
    • Take initiative to understand to what activities you can contribute to. Just make sure that nobody else is doing it and that you are not stepping on someone else’s toes.
    • Learn a skill that will help you stand out. For example, become the person everyone goes to when they need something to proofread or when they need help with a computer program.

Shine at Work: Guidelines 1

Instant gratification may be the buzzword, but it is not going to help you at your workplace.  You may be fresh out of college or a working professional with a number of years of experience, whatever the case is, you will have to prove yourself in an organization. Those with experience may have some idea what to do to shine at the workplace and make your presence felt.

Let the management feel that they have made the right choice by selecting you. They are happy, you are happy and all are happy. All is well if it ends well, isn’t it? But how does this happen? You need to follow some guidelines to shine at work.

For those who don’t know, here are some pointers:

  1. Get a feel of the big picture
  2. Understand the business
  3. Be positive
  4. Create your own identity
  5. Have the right attitude
  6. Be a team player
  7. Be valuable
  8. Be reliable
  9. Communicate proactively
  10. Show enthusiasm
  11. Be flexible and adaptable
  12. Take initiative
  13. Work hard
  14. Get out of your comfort zone
  15. Do not be a politician
  16. Avoid stress
  17. Do not complain or criticize unnecessarily
  18. Serious
  19. Be courteous
  20. Use the right words

Shine at Work: An Introduction

You may be fresh out of college or working (with a number of years of experience). Chances are you have attended many interviews and have landed with a (new) job. Isn’t it a joy of relief? Sure it is, but it is also the start of another struggle; the struggle for establishing yourself in the organization. If you have prior experience, your reputation in the previous organization will not help you establish in the new place. You have to make your efforts almost right from scratch.

Shining at work and making yourself visible to the people that matter (read management) is not a difficult job. It just depends on how you go ahead doing things at work. Remember, there are three type of employees:

  1. These who SHOW they are busy: Most of the employees go to work each day and do only the minimum required to get by. They make a big noise even if they have to put in some extra effort to complete their work. Having managed teams for more than a decade, I have often heard people say “I have loads of work to do, I think I have to skip my lunch today.

In some cases it is true and I often try to provide a helping hand if it is a continuous situation. But most of the time, people barely have work in hand and make these statements to just get the attention and show their co-workers how busy they are when they really are not.  This behavior would annoy any manager.

  1. These who ARE busy: There are some employees who work really hard at their jobs. They work hard and do just what they are asked to do. Things end there. They don’t go beyond their job requirements.

This makes them good employees who you can trust to complete their work on time.

  1. Those who keep themselves busy: There are a handful of employees who gladly do whatever is asked of them and then check if there is something else they can do over and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes they do it even without being asked. They go BEYOND their role!

Which category do you fall into? Dong well at work is not just more getting the job done. It is also about building and keeping a solid reputation and positive relationships in the workplace. Performing well at work will make you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Your manager and peers will appreciate your efforts. Doing well at work also means investing in your future. It opens the door(s) to promotions and advancement in career.

When you establish yourself in the organization, you should etch a place of your own for yourself. At work, you should be noticed for all the right reasons. The most effective way to do this is to show your employer that hiring you was a great decision.

As of the freshers you might be worried about what the others think of you, if someone else will be better than you, or how you can do better than someone else. What you fail to understand is that initially, you have to concentrate on their assigned projects and do good and quality work. Every individual has their own identity and their own place in an organization. No one can replace you or take your place and similarly, you cannot replace anyone. So instead of thinking of taking someone else’s place, concentrate on making your own place.

Working from Home: Guidelines for the employees

As an employee, you should realize that if a facility is given especially to you, there will also be a specific set of expectation and a different set of rules (for some matters) for you. Apart from that, you will also have to set up an appropriate workspace that is separate and distinct from your home space and conducive to working effectively without interruptions. To be efficient, productive, and professional, you will have to be disciplined.

Here are some guidelines that will help you effectively work from home.

Do the groundwork

  1. Meet with your manager to determine how your work and job requirements can be done remotely from your home either full time or certain days of the week (depending on the work arrangement you are looking at).
  2. Consider the effect of working at home on your co-workers and manager.
  3. Determine the technological needs and secure the tools required for work.
  4.  Take appropriate training to ensure productivity and uninterrupted work.
  5.  Establish measurable performance goals and expectations. Since you have been given a certain facility, the expectations will be more. Chances are that performance criterion may be a little stringent and stricter.
  6. Take into consideration potential challenges and concerns of working from home and ways to address these issues.
  7. Check in frequently with your manager and co-workers to discuss how things are going and determine how to overcome challenges that may be identified.

Ensure to have a proper setup

  1. Ensure to have a high-speed internet connection so that you can work uninterrupted.
  2. Ensure to request for and/or install all the software required for you so that you can work seamlessly from home.
  3. Create a healthy workspace—good light, comfortable temperature, ergonomic adjustable chair, computer keyboard and mouse suited to your needs, telephone headset, etc.
  4. Design your workspace for efficiency, with all the documents and materials you need.
  5. Your space. Try to create a little space in your home that will be your “office” or workplace.

Ensure proper communication

  1. Proactive communication: Communicate regularly with your manager and co-workers to stay connected and resolve issues as they come up.
  2. Take appointment: If you want to have a long duration telephonic meeting with someone, take a prior appointment or check when the person will be free.
  3. Check emails frequently: Check your e-mails frequently so that you don’t miss out on any communication.
  4. Respond on time: Respond to e-mails on time. If you don’t have the information handy, reply and say so.
  5. Be polite: Exercise courtesy and be polite when communicating via emails.
  6. Be online: Ensure to be online during the working hours to be connected to the team and office. The idea is that you should be reachable via email, communicator, instant messenger, etc.

Be accessible and responsive

  1. Let the entire team know your general working hours (about 8-9 hours). Although working from home offers some flexibility in the hours you work, establishing working hours will be helpful to you, team members, family, and friends. Team members will know when they can reach you and friends will know when not to.  This is very important if you are working from home on a regular basis.
  2. Share your mobile and landline number with your team and ensure have their numbers as well (at least the people you closely work with).
  3. Update your e-mail, voice mail greeting, staff calendar, etc. regularly with your schedule, availability and contact information.
  4. Utilize appropriate communication methods to stay connected with your manager, co-workers, and other team members.

When you are away

  1. If you will be away during your general working hours (say for more than half an hour), send an email to your team members, team leader, and manager mentioning the duration you will be offline for the specific duration.
  2. Inform the teams: If you plan to be on leave or on vacation, inform the teams you work close with and anybody else you work/communicate with.
  3. Set vacation mail: If you are away on vacation for more than 2 days, set the vacation mail.
  4. Mark Leave:  If you have not been able to work for enough hours a day, for whatever reasons, mark it as a leave. If you have no internet connectivity, VPN not working, your laptop not functioning, etc. are also reasons for marking a leave if you are working from home.

Make your presence felt

  1. Attend meetings: Attend the team and other meetings to make your presence felt. They are informative discussions—usually about the new tools, processes, guidelines, new approaches, etc.
  2. Visit the office: Whenever required (meetings, seminars, team lunches, conferences, official visits from headquarters, etc.) visit the office.
  3. Visibility: Ensure that your accomplishments, project status, outcomes, and deliverables are visible to your manager and co-workers. Avoid being out of sight, out of mind.
  4. Talk to someone from the office at least once a week. Long silences make your absence felt and you will not be considered as a “team member”.

Be reliable

  1. Demonstrate trustworthiness by being predictable and reliable.
  2. Take promises seriously and following through on commitments.
  3. Take initiative and time to learn new skills, processes, and/or tools. Ask questions and pointers for information.
  4. You can work remotely only if you have some important deadline to deal with. Work it out with your manager.
  5. If you don’t have enough work to keep you occupied, inform your manager.

Be professional

  1. Clear priority: Be clear about your priorities. Focus on the expectations, responsibilities, and tasks you and your manager agreed upon as measures of success.
  2. Take feedback: You need to know about how your virtual work arrangement is affecting your co-workers and manager. Discuss about it with you manager.
  3. Stop the arrangement: If there any concerns especially from the co-workers, it stands understood that you need to stop the arrangement. Arguing with the manager is futile—remember time and again that work from home is a privilege, not your right. It will only show of your negative attitude.
  4. Be disciplined: To be efficient, productive, and professional, you will have to be disciplined.

Establish ground rules at home

  1. Set a routine/timetable. Make sure you keep a fixed time or routine for work as you have when you go to the office for work.
  2. Predetermine breaks: The breaks you will take should also be predetermined. This way you will be more disciplined towards your work. Establish ground rules for work hours, interruptions, noise, etc.
  3. Set boundaries at home. It is very important to develop a healthy separation between your work day and your home life. Let friends and family know that you are working from home and set clear boundaries on calling or dropping in. Be off-limits to children, friends, and relatives during work hours.
  4. Regulate your off time and holidays. Working from home gives the relatives a feeling that you can take time off work whenever you wish. So they may plan a vacation or to visit you anytime.
  5. WFH is no substitute: Do not use working from home as a substitute for childcare or to take care of older relatives (parents, in-laws, etc.).
  6. Set boundaries with your family members:  Last but not the least, let your family and friends know that although you are home, you are working, as any professional would. Tell them that you are off limits for them during those work hours.

Working From Home: Guidelines for Managers

You as managers and supervisors should consider certain guidelines when you review the work from home arrangement for a particular position or employee. Work from home arrangement should be customized based on the need for the department and the employee’s need for flexibility.

If this is not a universal policy, it is important to carefully consider the situation on a case to case basis.  You as a manager have to consider the interdependence of tasks within a department and with other departments.

About Job/Department:

Employees working as front desk executives, administration personnel, human resource executives, etc. cannot work from home as their work, unfortunately, does not allow that type of flexibility. However good they are at work, the nature of their work is such that they have to be physically present at the office.

In the other departments also, work from home can be allowed only after considering many factors like the type of the project, its complexity, the schedule pressure, and other project-related and person-related factors. Some of them are:

  • Does the work profile allow the person to work from home?
  • Is the job well suited for such an arrangement?
  • Does this arrangement serve the customers?
  • Is there interdependence of tasks with other teams? If yes, will work be delayed or affected?
  • How does this arrangement affect the interaction with co-workers and other employees?
  • Do you have to budget money for the additional equipment and work-at-home costs?
  • Will the employee working at home be easily accessible?

About the Employee:

You will also have to take into consideration some factors before allowing the employee to avail the work from home facility, even for a short duration depending. The manager has to check if the employee is:

  • Self-motivated and result-oriented?
  • Self-disciplined?
  • Comfortable setting priorities and deadlines?
  • Able to work independently with minimal supervision?
  • Familiar with the organization’s procedures?
  • An effective communicator who takes initiative?
  • Adaptable to change?
  • Have strong time management and organizational skills?

Employees using the work from home facility must essentially be someone who can manage their personal productivity levels. As a manager, you should set clear and measurable objectives and judge the employee’s performance based on the results.

Working from Home: Disadvantages

While working from home seems like a dream come true, there are some disadvantages associated with it. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Lack of communication: The most obvious disadvantage of working from home is the lack of personal interaction and direct communication you would usually have while you are in the office.

You don’t have the luxury of just standing up and asking a question to your coworker over the wall of your cubicle or walking down the hallway to the accounts department for help in filing the I.T returns.

  1. Distraction: One of the next biggest disadvantages of working from home is that you get distracted. Well, it is true that one of the advantages of working from home is avoiding distraction at work, but different distractions arise at home front too.
    • When family members (children, spouse, and/or parents) are at home, you may get distracted which can make working difficult. You may want to spend some time with them.
    • Interruptions from children, housework, neighbors, friends, and family may distract you.
    • If you have children, they will want to talk to you and play with you when they get back from school.

You need to make special efforts to make it clear that you are working despite being at home and that you are unavailable for interruption and socialization within your working hours. You also need to tell the kids not to disturb you while you work. Hence, a separate office area or a table helps. It will pass on the message to the kids that it is work time.

  1. Bringing in work into home Life: Most of the time, when I work home even for a day, I find myself working more hours. It is probably the thought that I am getting avail the work from home facility and privilege makes me put in longer hours. To add to my woes, I also love my work!

The lack of physical separation between home and work may add to the pressure to work endlessly. It may be compounded by the fact that you feel there are greater expectations made of you or by self-imposed pressures to prove yourself and your abilities.

To avoid this situation, you need to set your working hours, probably the work hours you would follow if you work from the office, say 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Since there is no-one looking over your shoulder enforcing strict hours you may feel tempted to work endlessly.

  1. Bringing in home activities into work: Sometimes, the temptation to engage in household matters since you are at home is very strong. You may want to take spare an hour or two to clean the home, go shopping, do the cooking, do some preparation for an upcoming festival, or socialize with friends. You may feel that since you will put in extra hours later in the day or over the weekend, it is okay to indulge in these activities.

This struggle usually happens to those who are not mature in nature. It is essential to draw the line between home and work activities. If possible, set up a room just for your office that you only use for work. Working out of a living room or your bedroom will only make separating work life from home life more difficult.

  1. Isolation: Often, people working from home complain of isolation and loneliness, especially if they have worked in the office environment for a long time. I know of many married women who like going to work because they a get a break from their household responsibilities, get to mingle with people for a while, and can get away from their mothers-in-laws for a while. Though many enjoy the idea of working from home, to some, this can be very depressing.

People working from home may feel alienated from company developments. In many organizations, things change overnight. You may find yourself removed from important developments such as staff changes, changes in company direction, promotions, etc. Often an arrangement where you report into the office at least twice a week is a good as it allows for interaction with colleagues and supervisors. It also ensures that you remain in touch with happenings and developments of the company while still working from the comfort of your home.

  1. Perceptions: Many people don’t take work from home seriously. If you work from home, friends feel that they can drop in any time in or send their kids for babysitting simply because you are at home.

Friends and relatives feel that they can call you any time of the day for a long chat since you are not at the office. After a while, you yourself start feeling that there is nothing wrong in doing these, after all, you have all the flexibility you want. Wrong!

  1. Procrastination: It is easier to procrastinate while working from home since all it takes is to switch on the TV to start watching a cricket match, and sit there engrossed in the match.

It is very easy to get distracted by anything. Also, the idea of being at home can make you feel lazy and therefore cause you to procrastinate.

  1. Miss promotion: The danger of being overlooked for promotions and career development opportunities can happen when you are away from the office for a very long duration. So, you need to put in an effort to prevent the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.

You need to have an open line of communication with management and co-workers. It is also important to make regular visits to the office to prove your dedication and commitment to your career.

  1. Need for self-discipline: Working from home is not for anyone. It takes a lot of dedication, self-control, and discipline to motivate yourself to work efficiently and effectively without getting distracted.

You should also ensure not to do home/personal activities at work hours. Even if you do, inform the manager and co-workers about it.

  1. Resentment: Last but not the least, you must be aware that many co-workers may be jealous of your good luck You may relax in your home office and do your work, but some co-workers may harbor resentment that they must be in the office while you are relaxing at the comfort of your home.