By Hon. Daniel A. Mica, Principal, The DMA Group
As a former CEO, I have often been asked to relay career advice to those up and coming in the workplace. Hopefully, a few basics suggestions from my own mentor and my career will be beneficial. These suggestions are common sense but can sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.
Just show up and show up on time
While it seems like a basic principle of your employment responsibilities, you might be shocked at the value of promptness and reliability. It used to be an automatic assumption that employees would be where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be. More often than not these days it’s a job of “round up and remind” to get a meeting started. If you are one of those who is often late or a no-show, it will reflect poorly and hurt your career. I know of several people over my career whose names were always preceded by the comment, “They are always late.” or “You never know if they will show or not.” Don’t let that be you.
Do your best on every assignment
All out efforts are noticed and half-hearted efforts are noticed even more. Even if it is a small task, doing it with energy and enthusiasm will reflect in a positive way on you and your work ethic. I was once told, “Even if you are taking out the trash, do it with vigor!”
Walk with purpose
Believe it or not your colleagues and your boss read your body language the minute you walk in a room. If you are slouching and frowning, it sets quite a different tone than if you walk with good posture and a pleasant look on your face. Over time you will be associated with one of these moods representing your personality. My mentor used to say, “Even if you are walking across the street, always walk with purpose.”
Write it down or input it on your smartphone when you are given several assignments
I can recall occasions when I’ve asked someone to quickly take care of three or four items. One would say, “Ok.” and walk away. Leaving me wondering how they would possibly remember the tasks. Another would write it down leaving me feeling confident it would get done. Speaking of getting the job done, see the next tip.
Communicate when a task is completed
A guaranteed plus for a promotion is a simple follow up. Your boss or CEO usually has many more things on their mind then you are aware of, one is a constant concern that tasks are being completed. When you get a call asking if the project is done or a quick question as you pass in the hallway you have already lost a great chance. I made it a practice of always putting a short post-it note or sending a brief email, simply saying the “xyz” project is complete on my boss’s desk, and those who advised me in a similar way were always at the top my “dependable” list.
Never ever criticize your organization to your boss or your colleagues
Trust me when I tell you that HR and your boss almost always know those who are critical of the organization and their colleagues. When it comes time for promotions, bonuses, raises, layoffs and terminations these comments come up in every management discussion. There are essentially no secrets in the workplace.
A positive mental attitude and a smile go a long way.
Although everyone has their own management style, I always appreciated my colleagues who kept things positive and used encouragement and humor rather than sarcasm and anger in tense and difficult situations.
Finally: A word for those managing the up-and-comers
When it comes to management, my experience shapes my philosophy. I believe the most effective way to get the best out of people is to treat everyone from the intern to the CEO with equal respect. I am not naive and I realize there are harsh management practices in every field of work. My own thought is that if you are in that situation and it can’t be changed, you need to start looking for other employment situations immediately. I do believe in the golden rule, “Do unto others, as they would unto you.” For the most part, people will be much more productive, supportive when they work out of feeling of mutual respect and concern as opposed to working out of need and fear.
About Daniel A. Mica, LLC (The DMA Group)
Dan Mica, former head of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), established The DMA Group as a means to combine a myriad of experience into a one-stop consultancy. Elected in 1978 to represent Florida’s 11th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dan Mica served five terms before beginning what would become more than two decades of work in the world of nonprofits and association management.
The DMA Group is a full-service consulting firm, providing the highest level of integrity and service through established practices and decades of experience.