How to Be a Better Employee

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thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

For those just starting a career, or those in need of some motivation, I put some thoughts together for a work function and thought I'd share. Maybe there is a nugget or two that someone will find helpful or motivating. Feel free to disagree. I know we don't want to work, but until we achieve a certain level of financial success many of us probably HAVE To.
■Arrive 5 minutes early (first to arrive)

■Stay 5 minutes late (last to leave)

■Be prepared

■Dress the part

■Get organized

■Take initiative

■Learn continuously

■Get motivated

■Be visible

■Be nice

■Be persistent

■Be honest

■Be a team player

■Get engaged

■Go all in

■Make your boss’s job easier

■Do it right the first time

■Develop thick skin

■Act in the company’s interest

■Go the extra mile

■Give 101%

■Make meetings productive

■Build your own brand

■Volunteer

■Do what your co-workers won’t

■Understand your benefits

■Invest in a retirement plan

■Get educated

■Improve your skills

■Develop yourself

■Invest in self-improvement

■Be flexible

■Be realistic

■Let your work speak for you

■Participate in the performance review process

■Keep your resume updated

■Create value

■Be a follower

■Be a leader on your team

■Be supportive
For the ERE that may be reading this, the list might provide further demonstration of why it's nice that you don't have to go to work everyday.


BPA
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Post by BPA »

Reminds me a bit of why I became a union rep. ;) I loved the part at the end.


chicago81
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Location: Chicago, IL

Post by chicago81 »

As I get closer and closer to ERE, I find myself exhibiting less and less of those qualities, almost in the hope that I will get laid off and get some kind of severance package from my employer :D


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

I should probably also add that I am not an hourly employee. I manage a mix of salary and hourly employees in the same work group.


dot_com_vet
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Post by dot_com_vet »

Excellent list, it definitely belongs in the ERE forum. Getting to ERE is a lot faster if one does well professionally.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca »

@ Dot_com- agreed.
Here's a (poorly titled) book that basically takes those bullets and makes them in to chapters with a few pages of pontificating on each. It's not original or particularly intellectually stimulating, but I found it useful at one time. Practice one a day sort of thing-
http://www.amazon.com/How-Become-CEO-Ri ... 0786864370
Doing well is usually more fun on top of more remunerative too.


spoonman
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Post by spoonman »

One of the best ways to be a good employee, or be perceived as a good employee, is to be agreeable and always say Yes. However, I've found that as I get closer to FI I've found myself saying No more often at work. My 7 years at work have been characterized by my inability to say No and just saying Yes to everything that has come my way, sometimes to my detriment. For example:
"Can you work a few extra hours on a 3 week side project? Sure."

"Can you work on three projects simultaneously? Uh-huh."

"Can you come in on Sunday to polish that proposal? No problem."
I'm finding that things don't turn into a catastrophe if I strategically say No every so often, especially to things that brought me a great deal of anxiety in the past.


JamesR
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Post by JamesR »

Great timing on this thread for me since I'm in the process of hunting up a job. I definitely should be prepared to play the game for the first few years!


buzz
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Post by buzz »

I notice that the long time members have chosen to be silent, but this thread just seems way too anti-ERE for me not to say something.
Most of this list is a load of trite that an overly controlling manager may love to rattle off (you forgot BE PASSIONATE!) but in reality has absolutely nothing to do with how well I perform my day to day duties.
I'm sure you would love for me to be there all hours of the day and have no higher priorities than working for you, but ultimately none of this will help me become a better person or achieve my personal goals.
I am the first and/or best at getting the job done. Why is that not enough?
Please see http://earlyretirementextreme.com/are-y ... erism.html


mikeBOS
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Post by mikeBOS »

This should be filed under "inspiration" because if you didn't want to quit your job before reading that list you certainly will now.


LonerMatt
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Post by LonerMatt »

Really mike?
Things like 'be honest' and 'be nice' make you want to quit?
I genuinely find most of the stuff almost blandly anonymous in that many of the points are too general for anyone to really disagree with.
There are a few I really don't like as absolutes (act in the company's interest, go all in, make your boss's job easier), but the overwhelming majority are just, well, things I think most people try and do anyway.
Is anyone here absolutely opposed to things like "be flexible"??


skintstudent
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Post by skintstudent »

Where did this come from? It seems inconsistent with your other posts?
My thoughts on some of the items:
■Arrive 5 minutes early (first to arrive)

■Stay 5 minutes late (last to leave)
Really? An hour early and an hour late won't satisfy either of first to arrive and last to leave here. In fact there are a couple of people who would be here before me and leave after me. Should I really do 2 hours early and two hours late to make sure?
■Be prepared

■Dress the part

■Get organized

■Take initiative

■Learn continuously

■Get motivated

■Be visible

■Be nice

■Be persistent

■Be honest

■Be a team player
These seem reasonable and common sense.
■Get engaged
With what?
■Go all in
Is a gambling analogy really what you wanted to use here? In its correct context "all in" means staking everything on one event. Not recommended.
■Make your boss’s job easier

■Do it right the first time

■Develop thick skin

■Act in the company’s interest
No strong opinions on these.
■Go the extra mile

■Give 101%
Bullshit Bingo! "The extra mile" to from/where? What does it mean? 101% of what? You certainly can't give 101% of your best.
■Make meetings productive
Easier said than done, but certainly worth trying.
■Build your own brand
I thought I was playing for the team.
■Volunteer

■Do what your co-workers won’t
Sure. if you accept all the crap, then that gives the boss a stick to beat those who won't.
■Understand your benefits

■Invest in a retirement plan

■Get educated

■Improve your skills

■Develop yourself

■Invest in self-improvement

■Be flexible

■Be realistic
Good ideas, in life in general.
■Let your work speak for you
Done.
■Participate in the performance review process
Is this optional where you work?
■Keep your resume updated
Sure, because as a committed team player, working in the interest of the company (while creating your own brand) you'll constantly be on the look out for another job.
■Create value
Of course.
■Be a follower

■Be a leader on your team
Is this a joke?
■Be supportive
Of whom?
@thebbqguy. Do you really believe much of this? Your parting comment in the original post thankfully suggests you don't.


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

There is more to this list than just words. Some of the items may seem contradictory but there are varying degrees of each item. In my opinion you cannot be a good leader if you aren't also a follower. Going all in is used as a figure of speech for being committed to what you are doing. Whether you like it or not you already have a brand. It's the image that comes to mind when coworkers and managers hear your name.
Whether I believe it does not really matter. These are things the people who run my company believe. That's my point. The quickest way to financial independence in my opinion is to spend less and earn more. At my company this is what works. I can show you examples of people who don't do these simple things. They still have the same positions they had 10 years ago.
I am constantly surprised at people who are good candidates for internal positions but they are unprepared to pounce because they don't keep their company resume updated.


Chad
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Post by Chad »

Doing that long list of things will probably help your career, but those items are also obvious proof that most jobs are not necessary.
The only items listed you should really be judged on are:

■Be prepared

■Take initiative

■Learn continuously

■Do it right the first time
And, in reality the only judgement made should be on the work you produce. No one should care if you are organized, dress well (clean, yes), or stay later than the other idiots.
All of the others are just actions of a feckless cubicle drone trying to please incompetent managers. Of course, those managers were feckless cubicle drones indoctrinated to these useless management practices by their incompetent managers. It's a vicious cycle, which eventually leads to large useless organizations that can layoff 5-10k at a time with no noticable service drop-off.
This is why I am working on finally getting out of a regular job, even before I become FI.


Jpsilver
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Post by Jpsilver »

All I see in this list besides some obvious points is really careerist non-sense. I'm with buzz, mikeBOS and Chad.
However, I agree with you, doing this stuff should be enough to ensure good workplace "performance"


Dragline
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Post by Dragline »

This is one of those discussions where the advice depends largely on the unstated assumptions about what the goals are.
I agree its good basic career advice, but probably too general for every workplace. Certain factors would be more important in certain jobs than others, and the actual implementation is what ultimately matters. For example, "taking initiative" is nice, but I'd be pissed off as your boss if your initiative was contrary to the goals of a particular project.
It does lack a certain relevance to ERE, because in that context, the implicit assumption is that the job is just a stepping stone and not an end unto itself. A person with that goal is probably more interested in just getting as much money as possible out of the position and learn whatever skills are easily available. A careerist has a more long term perspective, but there are seriously diminishing time/effort returns for a person who is planning an early exit.
As someone who interviews/hires a lot of people, I do look for many of these traits, but I've learned that it really depends on what you are hiring the person to do. If the job is just manual labor, what you care about is punctuality and following instructions (and not breaking things). I care less about that for someone higher on the food chain that I am expecting to produce something thoughtful or creative. And for certain positions, all I care about is technical knowledge or skill. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to employees is just bad/lazy management in my view. Reminds me of those big meetings in "Office Space".


Scott 2
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Post by Scott 2 »

My honest advice for someone would be - Try to create at least a little value while winning the popularity contest. That's the path to high compensation. Wouldn't go over well in a group presentation, but it's the truth!
Spoonman - I'm glad you've stopped always saying Yes. No is extremely powerful. It forces people to value you and your time. It shows you are confident in your work and ability. Used correctly, it earns respect. Once people know you are comfortable with conflict and can manage it smoothly, your entire career changes.


ffj
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Post by ffj »

Being good at what you do should take precedence. When the boss or manager knows that you are the go-to guy that tends to open doors of opportunity that are shut to the marginal employees. Not always, there's a lot of bullshit out there, but in general has worked well for me.


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy »

@Dragline I agree. What may work for one company/job family might not apply to others. It works where I work.
It amazes me that former coworkers refuse to take some quite simple actions to improve their financial circumstances. I am not talking about a little money. It's 10k for a promotion where I work in most cases. Like it or not, the workplace is a competitive environment.
Could I be retired if I had found the ERE material 20 years ago? Yes.


Spartan_Warrior
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Post by Spartan_Warrior »

*Accidentally duplicated post due to forum issues.*


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