The difference between being a mediocre employee and being a great employee pays off in more ways than just in your paycheck. Great employees are more satisfied with their jobs than mediocre ones. Anyone can be a mediocre employee, simply show up and do what you’re told. But what does it take to excel?
Greatness doesn’t come easy, you’ll have to learn to bite your tongue at times and make sacrifices along the way. But with hard work, determination, and a good attitude, you can become a highly-valued employee. Rewards come in the form of better pay and increased job satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at the two keys to being a mediocre employee; these are your starting point. First, show up. The great employee shows up: on time, ready to work, dressed for success. If his start time is 8:00 AM, he is at his station at 5:00 AM, not at the time clock. He punched in a few minutes beforehand and has already put his lunch in the refrigerator. When 8:00 AM strikes, he is ready to dig into his first task of the day. He is not nibbling on a donut, he is ready to work. In addition, the great employee is dressed for success in a clean uniform or inappropriate office attire.
Second, do what you’re told. The great employee does what he is told to do just like a mediocre one. However, the great one will ask for feedback after the task is done such as, “Did that report cover all of your requirements?” He won’t wait around to be told what to do next, he’ll ask. For example, “That report was a challenge, but I enjoyed working on it. Do you have something similar you’d like me to do?”
What else makes a great employee? A great employee is also a self-starter. If they see a job that needs to be done, they don’t wait to be told to do it, they do it. The sales clerk that walks by a messy display on his way to the break room is mediocre at best. The sales clerk who stops and tidies it up is a self-starter. He doesn’t assume it’s someone else’s job and he doesn’t wait for his boss to tell him to “clean that up.”
A great employee knows how to pick his battles. He lets petty complaints slide but will stick up for issues of greater importance. For example, a mediocre employee may complain about the no personal phone calls policy while a great employee will abide by the rule and make his personal phone calls during his lunch hour. The great employee picks his battles wisely, if he sees a policy that is clearly wrong or illegal, he will speak up. Because the great employee follows the rules without a fuss, his objections, when raised, will be taken more seriously.
A great employee treats others with respect, including himself. Customers, coworkers, and bosses are each treated respectfully. The great employee understands that gossip is harmful to others as well as to themselves. He also understands that while a little chitchat is fine, he is here to work and stays on task,
Great employees are effective communicators. They understand that many misunderstandings can be avoided by having good listening and communication skills. If they are unclear on a topic, they ask for clarification. If they are nearing a deadline but having trouble completing the project, they let their boss know and ask for help.