103. What I wish I had known THEN about being a great employee

I come from the baby boomer end of the generational spectrum and have always been fascinated by the different approaches to work taken by different generations – sometimes bordering on, what to me, seems a totally alien work ethic.

So I loved reading this article written by Melinda B.

In this blog, I have tried to draw out the main points – at least, the ones that resonated most with me.

The first point – and with the benefit of hindsight it’s pretty obvious when you think about it – is that these things were never explained to me when I started my career.

And since then, the many management development courses I attended focussed on team leadership – and not on what you might call “followership”.

I want to make sure that this gets shared as we have all made mistakes; and wouldn’t it be great if others were at least aware of how important it is to be a great follower, and thus avoid some of the same howlers when starting out.

Melinda lists 12 things and I summarise them here with a few added “bon mots” of my own:

  1. Do your job/keep your word – your manager does truly want you to succeed; it gives them an easier life. Their time gets eaten in to by other issues – coaching, managing, hiring and firing; so you not doing your job triggers one more hassle for them. In short, strive to be a hero to your boss.
  2. Your manager is not your parent or your therapist – don’t unburden on them and don’t read too much into what they say and do; or don’t say or do, for that matter.
  3. If there is a problem, don’t hide it – say something before it gets too bad.
  4. Be selective which complaints you air – that way you will come across as more credible the time you do mention stuff. You certainly don’t want to be seen as the team “anchor dragger”. That said, do not be afraid to ask relevant questions.
  5. Get on and do stuff – without drama = you are a star. This sort to team player is highly prized in any organisation.
  6. Be specific and explicit when asking for what you want – get to the point quickly and don’t waste their time.
  7. Make you manager look great … and great things will happen. If not, get a new manager!
  8. Be loyal to your boss – badmouthing them never looks good and it will always get back to them. If trust dies, likely so does your career in that organisation. Loyalty is highly prized so don’t blow it by gossiping.
  9. Fess up to mistakes – asap. The earlier you share a problem the better the chance you and your manager have to clear it up … and quickly. So avoid surprises!
  10. Choose your allies carefully – the first person to befriend you is either the office extrovert or likely to be disliked by others in the team.
  11. Don’t bleat on about how you did things in your last job – better to gently suggest things as your own ideas.
  12. Pick up after yourself – keep things tidy; apologise quickly if you make a mistake; do volunteer sometimes. Be a team player.

She then signs off with a caveat – this does not excuse poor management; if you are working in a place with a toxic culture or a toxic leader – then leave!

It is your career; you owe it to yourself to identify which parts of the relationship you can own and control. You do have a choice!!

Have a look at the original article here

I would love to hear how this resonates (or contradicts your own experiences) – from whichever generation you hale. Do please drop me, Mark Nicholls, a line.

In my next article, I look at things from a different perspective and will share an open letter from someone signing themselves off as “A Millennial”.

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