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Success At Work

Longer term success

Longer term success

Showing initiative

Initiative is going above and beyond your job description. It is a personal attribute that is highly valued by employers and can be demonstrated by:

  1. Finding ways to increase efficiency
  2. Coming up with ideas and solutions
  3. Looking for opportunities to develop new skills that will be helpful to the organization
  4. Seeking feedback on your performance or ideas from your supervisor, co-workers, and/or mentor
  5. Being proactive in the workplace

Prefer to learn in person? Sign up for the How to be an Exceptional Employee workshop to learn more from a Career Advisor.

Longer term success

Once you have been on the job long enough to have achieved competency in your responsibilities, how can you continue to develop and be successful? Below are some options to consider:

  1. Volunteer to do extra tasks, projects, or committee work, however, volunteer wisely. Don’t feel pressure to participate in too many activities or you may end up feeling taken advantage of. Before offering your assistance, ask yourself how a particular project or task will be helpful to the organization and to advancing your career goals.
  2. As you gain knowledge and expertise, look for ways to save time and money for your employer: such savings will be appreciated and often rewarded. When you have an idea for an initiative, build support for it with those on whom it will have the most impact.
  3. As your knowledge of the job increases, the learning and performance objectives you developed prior to commencing employment can become more specific. Once you set specific objectives, monitor your progress. Be prepared to explain how these objectives were achieved. When you have completed a particular assignment or project, review it.
  4. Track accomplishments and keep detailed records of your successes. Also retain positive feedback from others, be they management, co-workers, or clients. These records can be very helpful at performance review time!

Realize that some degree of conflict is inevitable. At some point, you will likely have a difference of opinion with, or may receive negative feedback from, a co-worker or supervisor. Always try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and give that person’s ideas and views the respect they deserve. Separate fact from emotion and focus more on a collaborative solution, and less on all the details of what went wrong. Being open and receptive is often enough to make the other person less defensive.

It is very important to control and/or appropriately regulate feelings of anger or frustration in the workplace. If you feel yourself heating up, take some time to cool down and ask if you can meet later to discuss the issue. Never use profanity or make statements that will cause others to question your contributions: this can result in longer term reputational damage. Lastly, avoid resolving intense disagreements via email or over the phone: since body language and facial expressions are critical to effective communication, resolving conflicts in person or on a video call are best.

Tips for success

  1. Find a mentor. Studies show that the majority of those who get promoted have a mentoring relationship with a more senior person in or outside of the organization. Mentors can:
    1. Offer encouragement and answer questions when your supervisor is unavailable
    2. Give you feedback on your ideas
    3. Be great sources of information, support and career advice
  2. Network within and outside the organization. The more people who know you, your strengths and abilities, your value to the organization, and at least some of your ambitions, the more likely your goals can be supported.
  3. Try to find a useful subject area no one else has claimed and work to become an expert in it.
  4. Be visible. Look for high profile projects to take on.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the network of competitor companies.
  6. Look for formal and informal learning opportunities:
    1. Increase your knowledge through courses and reading
    2. Enroll in training seminars offered by the company
    3. Job shadow a staff member, supplier, or customer
University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development