Do you have what it takes to be great at your job? Whether you want a raise or a promotion, or you are looking ahead to your next job search, learning how to improve your performance and add more skills and professional achievements to your resume is critical to getting ahead (easily add both to your resume in a matter of minutes using our Resume Builder).
Whether you've just been hired or have years of experience in your current role, there are always ways to improve your performance. Here are 15 ideas you can utilize to excel at work.
14 ideas for how to excel at work
1. Understand your employer's goals
Some people work at their jobs for years without really knowing or understanding their employer. This is a mistake a lot of workers make in their careers.
What are your company's goals? This is critical information for you to have to succeed. How does your role impact those goals, and what can you do to have more of an impact? Ask bosses and colleagues for suggestions.
Ask yourself, who's been promoted recently, and what did they do to get promoted? If you don't know, ask them. You can learn from their stories to and figure out how you can get ahead as well.
2. Learn your boss' likes and dislikes
You don't have to be best friends with your boss; in fact, you don't even need to like your boss. You should, however, know your boss.
The better you understand what your boss values and likes and dislikes, the better you can perform your job to their expectations and demands. When you can perform your duties in a way that is pleasing to your boss, the more likely it is that your boss will recognize you for it.
3. Show up for your team
Being "a team player" is something every employee is supposed to aspire to but it's a lot harder than it sounds, in part because it's so vague. What does it mean to be a team player?
To excel at work, you should learn what it means to be a good team at your organization. To start, learn what your teammates value so you can share their mindset. They'll appreciate you more when you act on those values or explain honestly when you don't.
Try to put the team's priorities first, even sometimes at the expense of your own. Depending on your role this might mean staying late to help out a colleague or offering to switch shifts to help out a coworker in need. Not only is being a good collaborator a sought-after soft skill to add to your resume, but your teammates will respect you for it.
4. Get to know your colleagues
People who excel at work are often connected to people outside of their team or department. They know that growing good relationships with people across departments can build bridges and make collaboration easier.
Departmental divisions can create internal competition and bickering, but if you're a bridge builder on good terms with all sides, you'll often be able to get results where others fail. Every employer values people who can keep company harmony.
5. Don't be a gossip
It's hard to be a bridge builder when you're a gossip. No matter how good an employee you may be, getting caught in gossip will quickly downgrade your standing with your boss and your company. It will also take you away from focusing on how to excel at your work. Stay above the fray and don't participate in office gossip or drama.
6. Have a positive attitude
Unsurprisingly, people like working with people who have a positive attitude. Attitudes can be contagious, and positivity breeds positivity. Be the person who spreads sunshine in the office by having an upbeat attitude at work. Being a supportive person who tries to brighten the days of others is always well-received. Plus, it can help you get ahead; recruiters find that a positive attitude is a trait of high achievers.
Whether you want a raise or a promotion, or you are looking ahead to your next job search, learning how to improve your performance and add more skills and professional achievements to your resume is critical to getting ahead.
7. Accept feedback gracefully
One of the hardest things for many people to learn is how to handle constructive criticism. Those in the know about how to excel at work know that using well-intentioned critiques can improve their job performance.
Yes, some bosses are truly nitpickers who want everything done their way, but most bosses are simply providing feedback so you can perform your job better. Aim to incorporate your boss' constructive criticism into how you perform your job. Really pay attention to the less-than-positive portions of your work assessments. This is your road map for how to excel at work.
8. Be a professional
Being professional means more than just showing up for work and performing your duties. Professionals all have some things in common. They can take constructive criticism. They're courteous, friendly, and tactful. They respect their colleagues and themselves.
They dress appropriately. They meet deadlines and give plenty of warning when they aren't able to meet a goal. Professionals take pride in what they do in all situations and are always aiming to deliver according to company standards (if not better).
9. Go the extra mile
It used to be that just showing up for work was enough to get by in some companies, but those days are long gone. Today, the secret to how to excel at work involves not only showing up on time but also staying busy and producing results regularly.
While it's great to chat with your coworkers to build relationships, don't allow these water cooler sessions to go on for long periods of time. Make a to-do list for every day and aim to cross each item off of the list.
Stay off of social media (unless you are on a break) and don't spend a ton of time texting or making personal calls. To avoid distractions, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and only respond to personal messages while on break.
10. Be a problem solver
Don't be the worker who is always quick to point out problems without offering any realistic solutions. Being a naysayer isn't a quality of those who know how to excel at work.
Instead, be a problem solver. Listen to others, ask thoughtful questions, make suggestions, and act when you can, even when it's "not in my job description." Make autonomous decisions as often as you can. Your boss will appreciate it if you take the initiative to solve smaller problems on your own.
11. Take initiative
Do you ever try to push the limits of your work? Is it common for your to consider better ways you can do your job? Do you dream up new procedures that could help your team work more efficiently?
If so, make those suggestions to your boss. Successful people are innovators who are constantly trying to improve processes at work. Don't be shy about proposing solutions and improvements, and then go out and make them happen.
12. Stretch your skill set
When thinking about how to excel at work, consider taking the initiative to learn new skills or deepen your expertise. Choose an area that might be lacking in other team members. Not only will you expand your skill set and add value to your team, but there may be the added benefit of having your employer will cover the cost of the training.
Listen to others, ask thoughtful questions, make suggestions, and act when you can, even when it's "not in my job description." Make autonomous decisions as often as you can. Your boss will appreciate it if you take the initiative to solve smaller problems on your own.
13. Volunteer for new projects
Another way to take the initiative is to volunteer to work on new projects. Whether your goal is to seek a little variety or to try to score some points with the boss, volunteering to take on additional work and responsibilities can lead to greater job satisfaction, better performance reviews, and perhaps even a new direction for your career. Taking this step will also provide you with new additions when it comes time to build a resume.
14. Become a mentor
A great way to demonstrate how well you do your job is the volunteer to mentor new hires. Not only will your coworkers appreciate the gesture, but teaching new workers how to excel at work by teaching them all of the tricks of the trade will also endear you to them right from the start.
In addition, mentoring can help you improve your job performance. While mentoring can be time consuming, it is often also very satisfying. Plus, when you are teaching others how to do their jobs, you may discover holes in your knowledge or skill set as you answer mentee questions. Identifying these gaps and addressing them will help you become better at your job.
Additional reporting by Jacob Share.