1. Take the initiative
If you can do the right thing without being told, you lift a huge burden off your boss’s shoulders and he’ll have more time for golf.
If you’re unemployed, you won’t get a job by sitting at home sending out resumes. Go meet people and knock on doors.
2. Correctly complete the task you’re assigned
Doing a thing right the first time is mandatory for a good employee. When the boss gives you something to do, he doesn’t want to wonder if it’ll be done. He should know that it will and think of you as dependable.
3. Don’t give your boss a problem that he has to solve for you
Your boss has other things to do. Being the squeaky wheel is the best way to be replaced.
4. Do more than you’re asked to do
This one trait will set you above 99% of the other employees. Too often we forget that our job is to help our employer succeed, and that our duties include finding something productive to do when we don’t have a task assigned. Clean something!
5. Stop multitasking; you aren’t good at it
Study after study has proven that doing more than one thing at once lessens the quality of each thing you’re doing. I realize you’re the exception, but so is everyone else.
6. Figure it out
Stop pestering the boss for help. It’s your job, so figure out how to do it. If you need his help, why does he need you?
7. Don’t gossip
This is the surest way to be known as untrustworthy. Once you lose trust, you can’t get it back.
8. Leave things better than you found them
This is what a team player does, and this is what is expected in a successful work environment.
When you get to work, smile and say hello. If you won’t make a meeting, tell them as soon as you know. Learn to be clear, concise and confident. Almost every workplace issue is a result of a communication problem.
10. Dress well
Have you heard that saying about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have? Do that!
11. Ask questions
Notice that this is different than not figuring it out on your own. The questions you should ask are ones like “Can I have this to you by tomorrow?” and “May I bring you my idea for making the widgets faster?”
Avoid questions like “Will you type this for me, I’m kind of sleepy?” and “Can I bring my cats to work?”
12. Have an opinion when asked
“When asked” is the important part. Your boss will want to know if his idea to round π to 3.5 is really OK. Tell him the truth, even if the truth is “Um, probably not.”
13. Help others
For one thing, it makes you a team player, and following your example, others will later help you. Second, you’ll probably learn a little about them and their job, which can make you indispensible.
Unless you wish to remain where you are, you have to become more skilled. Learn your boss’s job.
15. Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm covers a lot of faults. When we send the dog to fetch a stick and he comes back with a rock, we tend to forgive him because he’s happy. I’ll tell you right now that if my dog brought back a rock and was grumpy about it – I’d be pretty upset.
16. Be efficient
Thomas Edison used to have meetings in the other guy’s office. His reason: “It’s much easier for me to leave his office than for him to leave mine.” Think of ways to save time.
For more on being better, read this.