7 Tips to Excel at Any Job

Group of coworkers celebrating as they excel at workWhether you’ve just started a new job or have been in the same position for a few years, everyone wants to excel at work.

Every job is different of course. Depending on what industry and role you’re in, you might need a variety of skills to do well. But there are a few things you can do to make sure you shine, no matter your job. 

We’ve put together a list of 7 helpful tips that will help you excel at work, regardless of industry or role. 

How to excel at work: 

  1. Foster a good relationship with your boss. 
  2. Be a positive influence. 
  3. Be professional.
  4. Take initiative. 
  5. Know when to ask for help. 
  6. Accept feedback and be willing to learn. 
  7. Communicate well.

7 career tips to do well in any job: 

1. Foster a good relationship with your boss.

Unless you are already the CEO of your organization, chances are you have a boss you’re answering to. 

And your relationship with your boss is arguably the most important one you’ll have in the workplace. A good relationship with them can pave the way towards a successful career. A bad one can close a lot of doors. After all, your boss is the one who has the most impact in your work life. They assign you tasks, evaluate your performance, and ultimately decide what growth opportunities you have access to.

So if you want to excel at your job, the first thing you will need to do is get to know your boss. That doesn’t mean you need to be best friends. But, it’s important for you to understand what they value and what their priorities are. If you know those things, you can make sure that your work supports those priorities. Then, if your boss sees that your work is helping them be successful, your value will increase.

Unsure what your boss’s priorities are? Ask yourself: 

    • How does my boss define success?
    • Have they clearly expressed their priorities to me? 
    • How do they expect my work to support theirs? 
    • How is their own performance measured? 

Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to much more easily align yourself with your boss’s needs. Make sure to make your good work visible. Keep your boss updated, share wins that they will find valuable and offer insights that will help them be more effective in their job. In order for your work to be rewarded, it has to be recognized and in order for it to be recognized, it needs to be made visible. 

Pro-tip: Most bosses really appreciate when you create praise-worthy moments.

2. Be a positive influence.

In any social situation, the way you act will have an impact on others. In the workplace, this will translate into how much people want to work with you and respect you. 

If you want to make a good impact on your colleagues, start by viewing your success and your team’s success as one and the same. Avoid being centered only on your own needs but think of the needs of the people you work with. That mindset will help you establish win-win relationships and make a positive impression on others. 

Try to help team members whenever you can, and show your appreciation for their work and accomplishments. A few words to let someone know you value their work can make their day! And if you notice someone having a hard time, a few words of encouragement could turn their day around. 

More importantly, being a good influence is also about how you react when things aren’t going perfectly. Not every day is a good day and there will be inevitable frustrations and challenges at work. That’s ok, but try not to let negative emotions get in the way of how you interact with others. When something upsets you, take a moment to think about why, and do your best to communicate that calmly. You’ll notice that if people don’t feel attacked, they’re much more likely to listen to you and take your feedback gracefully. 

If you help others, encourage them and calmly work through any negative emotions you might be experiencing, it’ll help you establish good relationships with your colleagues. They’ll know to come to you for support, and they’ll be much more likely to support you when you need it as well.

3. Be professional.

A professional attitude at work will go a long way to building respect and trust with your coworkers.

Advice about professionalism used to center on dressing for success and attending to simple courtesies like being on time and being polite. Do these things still matter in our modern workplace or is that so 2005? Yes, but they might look slightly different. 

Professionalism today is all about making your interactions with your co-workers appropriate, meaningful and valuable. A lot of this has to do with answering the question: What does it feel like to be on the other side of me?

Are you a person who keeps their commitments? Do others look forward to interacting with you? Are you respectful of others and their time? Do you bring value to the team or takeaway from your work group?

The importance of how you relate to your colleagues isn’t limited to in-person work. In fact it may be even more important in remote or hybrid work situations where you have more limited interactions. Even if you’re working remotely, ask yourself, “Are my emails and phone calls bringing value to others or causing others to waste time?” You want people at work to feel like you’re making their work easier, not distracting them from it. 

No matter what, avoid gossiping and speaking negatively about your co-workers. Of course, if you have a legitimate issue or conflict to resolve, you should feel free to speak up, but as a general rule of thumb, you should speak to people not about people. Avoid petty gossip. It often doesn’t end well, can damage relationships and it is ultimately a poor reflection on you. Plus, it’s a huge distraction from productive work and an energy drain.

4. Take initiative.

If you want to grow in your role and make the most out of it, the best way is to take initiative! So when at work, try not to take for granted the way things have always been done, but instead, consider better ways of doing your job. 

Especially if you’re starting a new position, you’ll be able to come into the job with a fresh perspective that other members of your team won’t have. You might even be able to see ways of simplifying tasks and processes. Sharing your insight with your manager and your team could be very valuable to them and will set you up as someone who looks for solutions. 

Even if you’ve been in your role for a while, take some time to think about ways to improve your work or solve problems. If you don’t wait for others to solve issues and proactively try to identify possible solutions, you’ll quickly establish your value as a problem solver! 

Keep in mind that it’s always important to be respectful and polite when you offer suggestions. Instead of simply pointing out issues, try to offer solutions and more importantly, offer to be part of these solutions. 

For example, rather than saying, “X process is a waste of our time” try saying, “I wonder if we might save time by using Y process instead of X. I’d be happy to try it out and report back to you.” 

Finally, don’t hesitate to volunteer for new projects or opportunities for training. Not only will you gain skills and experience, your boss will recognize you for demonstrating leadership. 

5. Know when to ask for help.

Of course, while being proactive and taking initiative is great, it doesn’t mean you need to do everything on your own. 

The fact is, you can’t always have all the answers, especially if you’re starting a new job! So if you’re unsure about how to perform a task or need extra expertise, reach out to someone. You’ll avoid making mistakes, save time and get a great opportunity to learn something new. 

In fact, you can always think about asking for help as an opportunity to learn. Every time you ask a question and learn something new, you’ll get better at your job. 

And that’s not limited to technical questions. It’s also important that you communicate to your boss or supervisor if you ever feel uncomfortable, or like you won’t be able to complete a task without getting some support. You wouldn’t be the first person to have overbooked themselves by trying to please others. 

With that said, you don’t want to be constantly asking questions you should already know the answer to, or asking for help on tasks you should be able to complete. But there’s absolutely no shame in asking for support from time to time. 

On the contrary, asking for support when you need it will build confidence with your team, who will trust that you know your limits.

6. Accept feedback and be willing to learn.

Getting feedback, especially negative feedback, isn’t always pleasant. But the truth is, constructive criticism makes us better. It gives us a chance to grow and improve our skills. 

So whenever you receive feedback at work, try not to resent it. It’s ok to take a second to be upset about it, but try not to react defensively. Instead, breathe, listen, and try to absorb what you’re told. The best thing you can do is to ask questions and make sure to fully understand what the person giving feedback means.

If you feel too overwhelmed at the moment, that’s ok. Take the time to calm down and then circle back with them. You’ll make the other person heard and create a better relationship. 

The truth is, when someone gives you feedback, it’s proof that they care and want to give you opportunities to improve. While it might not feel good right away, it’s a good thing. 

And remember that nobody will expect you to do everything perfectly. (Especially not if you’re relatively new at your job.) But your ability to take and apply feedback gracefully will set you apart and quickly be recognized by those you work with. 

You’ll find that when you accept feedback and implement it, your boss and colleagues will appreciate it even more than if you just did everything well from the start.

7. Communicate well.

No matter what your job is, chances are that you interact with people regularly, whether it’s colleagues, clients or customers. 

That’s why, when it comes to work, there are very few things as important as good communication skills. Good communication skills allow people to understand and share information more accurately and quickly. They make interactions smoother and avoid misunderstandings and frustrations. They will make your collaborations easier and boost your performance. 

If you want to communicate well, the first thing to keep in mind is that it’s a two way street. Don’t just focus on getting your ideas across but start with active listening. If you really make an effort to hear what others are telling you, you’ll not only make them feel heard, you’ll avoid having to ask them questions later. 

What’s more, remember that communication isn’t just about words. So pay attention to non-verbal cues. They can give you great insight on how people are feeling and reacting to what you’re telling them. Of course, that might be hard if you’re working remotely or mostly talking to people over the phone. But you can still pay attention to things like tone of voice. 

Finally, the best communicators also often ask for feedback. If you see that something you said might’ve made someone unhappy or uncomfortable, address it, and ask for feedback on how you can improve. That will go a long way to building good relationships with coworkers. 

Of course, each job is different and depending on what your work is, some of these tips might be more useful or important than others. Pick one that you think will make the biggest impact in your current role and start there. The more of these tips you apply, the more likely you’ll excel no matter the job.

And if you’re looking for more tips to do well in your job, we can help!

Here are a few of our blog posts related to improving your work life: 

How TERRA Can Be a Resource

Looking for your next opportunity to excel at work? TERRA can help! 

TERRA Staffing Group is a leading staffing agency with offices in the Seattle-Puget Sound, Portland, Phoenix, and Denver-Metro areas.

We work with many companies across a variety of industries and specialize in temp, temp-to-hire, contract, and permanent staffing. Our recruiters are the best at what they do and are committed to helping people find jobs in which they can thrive! To see some of the jobs we offer, check out our current job openings. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Call us today. We’d love to help you find the right fit.

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