Employee Tips: How to get what you want

I got my first job at 14. I’ve had about 100 jobs since. I got fired a few times. Each experience taught me valuable lessons and skills.

At heart, I am still that trouble-making, fence-testing employee. Much of my business advice comes from that perspective. Most of the time, I give advice to the boss. However, today, dear employee, I’m talking to you.

Here are my employee tips!

How to get what you want from your job and your boss.

DO find out what it takes to get fired. Don’t ask your boss. Ask other team members. Then, choose your battles. DON’T play a small game. Want to show up late? OK. But, that means the conversation will never be on anything but that. Want to wear a grey t-shirt instead of a white one. Then that’s the game. If your employer is committed to his or her standards, you will get fired. If not, you win. It’s a small victory.

DO play as big and honorable a game as you can. Consider, what the job offers for opportunities to grow and develop…personally and professionally. Then, seize them. DO study the Organizational Chart and talk to your boss about your next career step. Take responsibility for your advancement and make your ambitions known. DO establish boundaries and balance. You have the right to go on a planned, in advance, vacation without calling in. You can have a family and hobbies and time to workout in addition to a job.

DON’T use a personal challenge as a reason to do poorly at work. A fight with your fiancé? It happens. Shake it off before you go to work. What good does it do to let the negative energy domino drop your career? Go for a run. Scream underwater. Write it out in your journal. Do yoga. Do whatever. Then, bring your best self to work. A good day can spill over into your home life. You are either spiraling up or down based on your thoughts and choices.

DO understand that being “On Call” is a work shift and you are expected to respond as needed. DON’T hesitate to pull an extra shift when needed, and go home early when you are not.

DO listen to CDs or MP3 in the truck between jobs. Audible, www.audible.com, has freebies you can link up to. Check out my Pinterest “Books” page for suggestions! It’s at www.pinterest.com/ellenrohr/books

DO embrace training. Learn what you can keep forever. Offer to train, too. If you are getting paid to train, this is the best benefit you can find. DO stay current with your licensing and technical training. Attend the workshops, go to the manufacturer’s training, and become an expert at your trade. DO embrace sales. What you might not like about sales – being pushy, lying, talking a lot – is not part of a good sales process. Find an opportunity to try out a sales position, or at least attend sales training. If you are willing to, you can become successful at sales. That opens up more career opportunities in any field than any other skill.

DON’T ask for an advance on your paycheck. DO put a personal budget together. Live on 70 percent of what you take home, after taxes. Save for the future, pay down debt and contribute to good causes with the rest.

DO volunteer for projects. Work with your boss to define the scope of the project. Suggest a bonus for on-time, on-budget completion. DON’T text and drive. DO use hands free options for phone calls.

DO write stuff down. Keep a Master To-Do list. Write down job details, procedures, brief notes about what you did each day. Jot down things you are grateful for and insights gained. Write down your hours and earned bonuses. The bookkeeper can make a mistake and you are well served to have your backup data. DO help a brother or a sister out. It will come back to you.

DON’T whine about anything. When I was a waitress, I never talked about getting a bad tip. It happened. I just never mentioned it. So, I had the reputation of always getting great tips. My manager assumed this meant I was a great waitress. He would put high rollers and VIPs in my section, who were generally great tippers. I was friendly and very generous at tipping my support team of cooks, bartenders and bussers. I didn’t whine about them either. So, with very little effort I had fun with great dining clientele, lovely relationships with my co-workers who completely made me look good, and I made big bank every night. Get the idea? No whining.

DO leave if you hate your job or you have reached the end of your career arc. Give two weeks of advanced notice, and accept it if you are asked to leave earlier. DON’T just leave your keys on the boss’ desk and disappear.

DO report any illegal activities, discrimination, abuse or harassment to the proper authorities. DO cut your boss some slack. Start with the assumption that he or she is doing the best they can. Sometimes, it’s just a rough day.

DO give your boss props on a job well done or a good decision made. DO take the raise and the promotion even if you are not quite sure you are up to the task. Then, get good. Figure it out. We all feel like imposters at some point in our career.

Would you like to start your own business someday?

If so, being an employee is a great way to explore what kind of a boss you will be someday. All bosses and jobs have something to teach you about what to do…and what not to do. All the lessons build and help you develop expertise that you will draw from at some future point.

Working at a coffee shop, I learned that employees will put up with things they hate (scratchy uniforms) if they love the job and the people. As a ski patroller, I came to appreciate how sound systems (explosive handling) keep you and your teammates safe. As a cook, I learned that a temper tantrum (the chef’s) didn’t get anyone to work better or faster.

Whether you are the boss or the bossed, DON’T give up on your dreams. DO what you can do in every moment to get what you really really, really want. And, as Zig Ziglar said,“You can have anything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

For more on business planning, check out The Biz Plan Challenge. You, me, other business builders…working in real time to craft customized Biz Plans for creating your ideal business and best life. www.bizplanchallenge.com.

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