January is the month that many reflect on life and set new goals for the year ahead. It's a time to be "out with the old" habits and "in the new". A time to focus on change and seek new opportunity. Whether you want to admit it or not, everyone has areas for improvement -- be it in your personal life or professional life. Here are 14 tips to improve your professional success:
1. Anticipate your department’s needs.
Being a reliable source for your department leader is a great way to be better at your job. Keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities. Making suggestions for improvement within your department will always make you stand out.
2. Strengthen relationships.
Your boss controls your destiny so it’s in your best interest to get to know them better – both professionally and personally. Find out what makes them tick. And while you’re at it, get to know your boss’s boss, too. The more you communicate with them the better it is for you. And don't underestimate the importance of getting to know your fellow co-workers as well. This will lead to a more enjoyable workplace and is very important to overall job satisfaction.
3. Assume success.
Be confident in your work. A positive attitude goes a long way and can be seen in everything you do. Even if others may not recognize it, go to work every day with the mindset that all you do impacts the bottom line. Mistakes happen, so challenge yourself in 2014 to use setbacks as opportunities for future success.
4. Monitor the competition.
Keeping up with latest industry trends will allow you to bring new ideas to the table. Read trade magazines and websites to increase your knowledge base and share your findings with colleagues and coworkers.
5. Find a mentor.
Find someone at work that you respect and want to learn from. Someone who will answer your questions and someone you can call on for work advice. Offer to help them when they are in a pinch or even take them to lunch to show your appreciation. The key is to always keep communication lines open.
6. Improve your communication skills.
A common mistake made by both managers and employees today is that too often both are afraid to address underlying issues. If you communicate boldly, more frequent and honestly, in 2014 you will be able to work through conflicts easier when they arrive.
7. Work smarter not harder.
This is important so you can maximize your abilities and make the most of your time. Make business planning a weekly event, to review, adjust and look forward. Create new processes, systems and ensure you hold yourself accountable to keep them running.
8. Set realistic goals.
If you are an overachiever or “workaholic” and find yourself generally exhausted, then you need to slow down and break the habit of setting impossible goals for yourself in the New Year. This will take pressure of yourself and you can perform your workload to feel fulfilled. And if you’re a manager, this approach may take some undue pressure off your staff as well.
9. Always be closing.
Regardless of your role, try to bring at least one solid lead to your sales team. This is always a great way to get an extra pat on the back. When talking about work with your friends and family keep your company in mind. You may surprise yourself about how much you know, or you may find how much more you need to learn which will lead to asking the right questions. Learn your company’s "elevator pitch" and attend a few networking events for even more practice.
10. Make yourself indispensable.
Knowledge is power. The more you know and the more you can help across business units, the more valuable you become. Lending your expertise, your time and effort to other teams will deepen your relationships within your company and help you see the big picture.
11. Ask the right questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask, especially the right questions. Aside from observing people at work, there is probably no better way of learning. Think about the questions before you ask and make sure you get the answers you need.
12. Invest in continuing education opportunities.
Many companies encourage employees to go back to school and pick up courses that can help them do their job better. Translate your new knowledge into tangible actions at work. This will show decision makers how much more you have to offer.
13. Follow through on all tasks and commitments.
Do what you say you are going to do in a quality manner, on time and on budget. This will create a pattern of reliability - an invaluable asset to any organization.
14. Be productive outside your office.
Don't let your work mentality stop when you leave your desk at the end of each day. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be work in itself and is critical to your daily performance. Using exercise and other physical activities, maintaining a nutritional diet and getting involved with non-work related hobbies are just a few ways to unwind and keep a well balanced, productive lifestyle. Having a plan of action for 2014 and beyond should be the first thought to consider to ensure continuous improvement. Do not leave your future to chance or for someone else to control. Being proactive will set you apart from others who may be “waiting” for the next opportunity to fall in their lap.