Work on your work attitude

To succeed in the work place takes more than your qualifications, your talents or your expertise. To be more fulfilled with your job beyond the pay check, is also about your frame of mind. Here are scenarios that require a specific attitude to help you thrive, regardless of where you work, what job you have or what level you are.

Your Attitude towards Your Work People

This is perhaps the most important. You go to work to work, agreed. But your office is full of people- the nice ones, the mean ones, the ones you simply cant stand (or they cant stand you). There is no need to get into a popularity contest, and you are not expected to be friends with everyone. But it will go a long way if you have a attitude of kindness and empathy towards everyone at the office, regardless.

Be quick to apologize when someone takes offence from you (you actually loose nothing). And even quicker to make amends when you are in the wrong. Better not to hold grudges or seek revenge. Untangle yourself quickly from any situations that leave you bitter, or tap on to your bad side. It may sound counter-intuitive, especially if you consider office politics. But you really do not want to cultivate a hostile environment around the people you spend 8 hours with.

It will give you peace of mind, if everyday you can walk into the office, knowing that as far as it depends on you, you are in right standing with everyone. It will also help you feel more secure, because you will have no need to look over your shoulder all the time. And when the office politics is happening, you will be more empathetic, instead of reactive. And this is an empowering place to be.

When you maintain a level-headed attitude Towards your work pEople, you will be more balanced and reaSonable, more calm and sensiblE. It will even make you a better judge of character.

Your Attitude towards Your Work

You only need to do your job a few weeks to realize that part of it is doing some mundane, routine work that is not so exciting, or rewarding or even visible. This is true for any kind of work, you will spend more days doing tasks that will not make you employee of the year.

I remember on my of my previous roles, I was often asked to prepare a documents folder for my manager every time there was a board meeting or a trip abroad; and that took a lot of printing and stapling and filing of documents. I also did a lot of copy editing of documents before they got to my manager’s desk. I fixed the grammar, spellings, formatting, punctuation as well as making sure that the document had company font and colors. I can tell you for sure, I did not enjoy this kind of work. Yes, on top of all that I had projects that I worked on, and to me that was the important work. And if I am to be honest, I felt like I was overqualified to do basic administrative stuff at this point in my career. Have you been here before?

But then I always remembered that my first manager at my first job taught me a lesson in diligence on the first day of work. He said that I can do all the technical work there is, but to be distinguished, I need to do it with diligence to the details. He actually read Proverbs 22:29 to me, which still rings true, 10 years later now.

This is perhaps my most solid career advice.

My attitude towards work is that everything I do is useful for sharpening my skills. And if I can be diligent with the mundane tasks, I hope they eventually add up and make me an all round excellent person in my dealings. I take it as my chance to show that I am good with details. And then masterfully, I use the same diligence to deliver quality work on more challenging technical tasks.

Having this attitude has helped me never to feel disadvantaged, even when I feel like I am not getting what I deserve. Even when I know that I could be doing so much more, I try to deliver on the small tasks set before me with grace and excellence and use that to leverage my push for more substantial work. In the example I gave, based on the front office type work I did for my manager, I was recommended for a type of secondment role accompanying my manager’s manager to even more high level meetings as his aide. Yes, I did more paper work, more calendar management and as a rapporteur but it came with the opportunity to sit along in very senior meetings which were way beyond my pay grade. It is at those meetings that I learned a lot about diplomacy and negotiations.

so, before you start feeling like you need to change your job, try changing your attitude towards the work you are currently tasked to do.

Even when you feel undervalued or underserved. There is always something to learn, and perhaps that small task might actually be what will catapult you into the next level of your career. And when you do change your attitude towards your work, start with your attitude towards the small, seemingly unimportant tasks. See what difference that will make.

Ever read the parable of the talents?

Your Attitude towards Feedback

We all love to get compliments. And we all need to give more compliments, please. But I will not focus on the feel good feedback. Most of us do not like to be corrected. Many of us do not like to receive negative feedback from certain people. and both of these are enemies of your growth and progress.

Cultivate an attitude that actively seeks feedback from your colleagues and supervisors. Ask for it as often as possible. Ask them how you are doing at certain tasks, ask them for one or two things you can improve on. Cultivate a welcome attitude towards constructive criticisms. Be ready, and maybe even eager to stand corrected. You will not grow beyond your strengths if you only bask in the glories of compliments. To get better at things that you are not good at, you need to develop a listening ear to what others are suggesting as opportunities for growth. Take those as your stepping stones to move forward.

And of course, there is unwelcome criticism. You may have not asked for it, but someone may randomly offer unsolicited advice. Even more unwelcome is when it comes from someone you perhaps feel a little off about. This kind of feedback is the most difficult to take in. It pushes us to the defensive. In fact, we can easily dismiss this on the account that ‘who does s/he thing s/he is talking to me like that?’. We slip into the trap of shooting the messenger, and burying the message along.

But I want to encourage you to grow an ear to hear all the feedback you get, regardless of if or not you asked for it and without being picky about who it is coming from. Some of the most honest advice you will ever get will not come from your friends. And it may not always be delivered in a nice way. But are you listening to what is being said?

So to work on your work attitude, here is where to start.

Be relationship oriented at work, always being mindful of others. Like they say, be shrewd like a snake, innocent as a dove. Do not despise the small mundane tasks, practice diligence relentlessly. Excellence, even in the small details, can be the difference that will actually push you forward. And finally, your strengths make you shine, but you grow from your weaknesses. Don’t dwell on the compliments.

welcome constructive (and even negative) feedback regardless of how you heard it or from whom it came from. You need to listen, and consider it. And as often as possible, ask for it.

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