Here at college, my profs grade my papers and exams. When I go into the workplace, what makes a good employee?
Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.
Your question is often considered by millions of college students who graduate each year. The transition from college to your first job is a critical stage of your life. You are no longer an independent college student, but an employee. Before you become a professional, there is an ‘intermediate’ level, where you learn about professional ideals that shape your career. One of your main sources for this critical learning is your first manager, so it is important to develop a good working relationship.
Your first boss will have a great impact on how you interact with future ones, as the relationship will establish a benchmark for your success. Having a poor relationship with your boss can leave you feeling undervalued, you will start to think about looking for another job before you have settled into your current one. Research has revealed that being overworked is not the primary reason that people leave their jobs, most actually leave because they have not established a solid working relationship with their managers.
The key phrase here is ‘managing up’, a technique you will need to learn in order to view your boss as more of a client than a manager. There are several strategies that will help you manage your boss in a way you have not considered. It is a good idea to quickly identify their motivations and what they require of you. If you can put yourself in their shoes and figure out what drives your boss, you will be in a better position to deliver the right information and work.
Defining your own goals and clarifying mutual expectations early in the relationship are good starting points. Be aware of how your company is organized before you make promises to your boss. You need to know what resources are available to you for work projects, so you do not wind up struggling to meet your deadline.
Support the success and work around any limitation in your manager, if they are disorganized for example try to help them organize things rather than complaining about it. Making yourself indispensable to your boss and helping them succeed will build a foundation for greater success for yourself.
If things are not going your way in the workplace, focus on your own performance rather than that of those around you. It is easy to become resentful and lose interest, keep in mind there will always be someone watching or listening, and it may not be your immediate boss.
To be a good employee, you must proactively build a good working relationship with your boss. Your working life will be more productive, and you will have good references when you decide to move on.
Nothing is as embarrassing as watching your boss do something you assured him couldn’t be done… Earl Wilson.