According to Judy Free and Traci Maddox, authors of "The Essential Employee: The Adventures of Carmen Senz," research has revealed behaviors considered most valuable in the workplace, in the view of supervisors, coworkers and executives. The employees who exhibit these behaviors to all levels of the organization are in a unique position to build a reputation as absolutely necessary within the organization. It's easy to remember, with a simple acronym: R.E.A.C.H. Perhaps the best part is, these behaviors apply to anyone, and have little to do with your current role, education, level of experience, or professional background. (For a related reading, see 8 Signs You're About To Get Fired.)
"These five essential behaviors may seem like common sense, but we all know the old adage that common sense isn't so common," said Maddox, a senior consultant at Sage Peak Associates, Inc. and co-author of the book. She and Free conducted the study across the nation, in a variety of workplace settings, to develop the REACH formula.
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Showing up for work every day doesn't make you effective or valuable. In fact, a study by AOL and Salary.com revealed that "full-time employees work a total of three days a week." (Meaning, they do nothing of value the other two).
To make yourself known as a results-oriented employee, focus not on the amount of time you're at work, but instead on what you're producing. Further, align that production with measurable goals and outcomes.
How do you do that? Take ownership of all projects assigned to you (and pick up any extras that you feel particularly passionate about or capable of handling). Be transparent and communicate regularly with your supervisor and others involved in the project about its progress and the goals you are working towards. When you reach them, make it known! (For more, see How To Ask For A Pay Raise.)
Energy is contagious, both good and bad. Someone who is lagging on the job will bring others around them down. Conversely, people with an energetic presence have the power to transform the vibe of others. No one wants to be around the grim reaper every day at work, even if things aren't so great. Be the positive force that always has a "can-do" attitude. Not only will your co-workers enjoy your company, but your energy will communicate to superiors that you are an employee who is committed to the organization and its success.
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Things will go wrong at work. Guaranteed. But even in the most derailed situations, something right happens. Focus on the positive, and steer clear of joining the "woe is me" mentality your other co-workers may fall prey to. Something as simple as a smile and laughter can go a long way, not only in impacting the mood of your workplace, but in expressing your gratitude for your job (and paycheck)!
Teamwork is essential in our modern workplace. Even the brightest of stars can't shine alone. You need the help of a capable team to get the job done. Volunteer to help others, and be accountable for your assigned projects. Take ownership when things go right, and wrong. Regularly praise others, regardless of if you are in a managerial role or not. Thank those who help you regularly and recognize their accomplishments, in addition to your own, when recapping progress with your boss and others in the company.
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Remember that old saying "what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right?" It's an applicable adage in the workplace. Particularly in an uncertain job market where workers feel stressed to succeed, it's important to stick to your values. That may not always be the fastest, cheapest, or most efficient path, but when you let your moral compass be your guide, others will notice.
The Bottom Line
In an economy where education costs are rising and jobs are harder to obtain and less secure, it's critical to make sure that everyone at work knows just how essential you are. Implementing these five tips on the job each day will make you absolutely irreplaceable. (For more, check out Dating And Job Hunting: The Same Rules Apply.)