Five tips for workplace success

business woman with moneyHave you ever wondered why some people have more success in their jobs and others can’t seem to get ahead even though they are very smart? According to a Harvard University study, 85% of a person’s workplace success is due to their personal skills – those intangible skills that lead to better and smoother relationships with others – your coworkers, boss or employees.

It often doesn’t take much to be more accomplished and regarded in the workplace. Follow these five tips to help you be your best.

Say “thank you”

It may seem like a silly thing, but when you say thank you to others it shows you appreciate their efforts.

Start by showing gratitude to your coworkers. Write a handwritten thank you note to a colleague who helped you with a project. Or thank that person for his help in a meeting.

If you manage a staff, express your appreciation for their hard work. The number one reason people leave jobs is they don’t feel valued and recognized for their contributions. It doesn’t take much to recognize your employees – a handwritten note, acknowledgement in a staff meeting, or lunch out are all appreciated gestures. I remember getting flowers with appreciative notes from my boss’s boss when I worked at WaMu. Those flowers were like gold to me.

Express thanks to your manager. It’s easy to be critical of a boss, but stop for a moment and think about the demands of being a manager. It’s not an easy job. Find something you appreciate about your superior and let her or him know.

Lastly, say “thank you” when anyone does something nice for you. Your appreciation will go far.

Be courteous

Another way to stand out as a great coworker is to be respectful of the people you work with. Clean up after yourself in the kitchen or breakroom. Put your dishes in the dishwasher and wipe the counter. If you take the last cup of coffee make a new pot.

Be thoughtful of others by keeping your voice down when talking in your cubicle or around others who are working.

Show up on time to meetings rather than keeping people waiting for you or disturbing the meeting.

Being courteous also means taking responsibility for problems such as the copier jam your document caused. If you can’t fix it, notify someone who can. Don’t leave the jam for someone else to repair.

Acknowledge others

You may feel someone is not important to your career, but you never know when that person may be in a position to help you. And, your kindness will be memorable.

Start your (and their) day off right by acknowledging the people you work with. In the morning, say hello to the folks you see as you walk to your desk. Greet people as you pass them in the hall. It may seem like a small thing, but I guarantee that people notice when you don’t do this.

In his book It Worked for Me, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shared a story about visiting the White House garage. When he showed up, the garage attendants thought he was lost and asked him if he needed help getting back “home.” He said he wasn’t lost, he just wanted to chat. After a bit, he asked the attendants how they decided which cars got parked deeper inside the garage and which were parked towards the entrance to get out first. “They gave each other knowing looks and little smiles. ‘Mr. Secretary,’ one of them said, ‘it goes like this: When you drive in, if you lower the window, look out, smile, or know our name, you’re number one to get out. But if you look straight ahead, don’t show you see us or that we are doing something for you, well, you are likely to be one of the last to get out.’”

It doesn’t matter if you’re interacting with the janitor or the CEO; everyone desires and deserves to be acknowledged.

Give credit

When you are praised for a project you led or participated in, be sure to give credit to those you worked with on the assignment. It’s always more impressive when someone credits others rather than taking the recognition themselves.

In a previous job, our division chief would always deflect the credit he received for the various initiatives he oversaw and would praise those who worked on the project. His humility and recognition made him a respected and admired leader.

Never take credit for a project or idea that wasn’t yours. The person or people who were involved in the task or who shared the idea will not think highly of you for your deceit.

Don’t gossip

Working with people who are different from you can be challenging, but sharing your negative thoughts about others with your colleagues is never productive and can often come back to hurt you. Many people feel that if you’re gossiping with them you’re also gossiping about them. If you need to vent, do so at home with your spouse or close trusted friend.

Gossip can affect company morale. While initially gossip may be exciting, it sets a negative tone and creates a very toxic environment.

Gossip can also sink a company. There are things that should never be shared – product launches, mergers, or anything confidential about the company.

These five steps may seem like common sense, but too often they are not commonly practiced. When you are thoughtful and kind to the people you work with, your working relations will be easier and more productive. This ultimately will help you be more successful in your career.




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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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