12 easy steps to become a great employee.


As a manager I see a lot of people just doing their job, and then go home. They have no goal, and no purpose, they just do what they are supposed to do. They do not perform badly and they do not stand out as good. If this is your case you might be the grey mouse that nobody notices at work. You are replaceable! Do you want to secure your job? Do great? And even maybe get a promotion? I got promoted twice in just about a year. These 12 easy steps are a guarantee that you will be impossible to replace. And if the timing is right the door will open for promotion sooner or later, will you enter?

1. Be on time.
There is nothing more annoying for a leader than people arriving late to work. And did you know that your fellow co-workers get demotivated if you turn up late? According to a survey I had at my office, 30 % says that they are influenced in a negative way, when others turn up late. Read more about step 1 in this recent post.

2. Care about your co-worker.
When did you last praise a co-worker for a great job done? It is not only up to the manager to praise good efforts. A good feedback from a co-worker can be of greater value. Be friendly, including and do offer your time to help others. Pour them coffee. Do positive stuff for others and others do positive stuff for you! Read more about step 2 in this recent post.

3. Look good.
This is not about attraction and beautiful people. The point is to dress well, be representative and take care of your personal hygiene. What is the dress code like at your work? Try to follow up. If all others have a suit, so should you. Take a shower now and then. If you always dress good, your boss will notice and just by that get a good impression. If you always dress improperly your boss will notice that too. Who will be trusted with the important client? The one that looks good, or the one that might scare the client? Read more about step 3 in this recent post.

4. Work with goals all the time.
How many sales did you get yesterday? How many cows did you milk? How many tasks did you complete? Do you know your average? Write three goals on a piece of paper. One is set to be your absolute minimum. The next is a goal a bit higher, this is a good day. The third goal is the highest, and if you reach it you’ve just had a great day. If you always manage to pass your absolute minimum, it’s time to adjust your goals, when you do, adjust all three. Read more about step 4 in this recent post.

5. Reflect and speak to your coach.
This one is linked to the last point about working with goals. Find time to reflect about the last week or day, why did you reach your goals? Why did you not reach your goals? Could you have done something different? Is there room for improvement? Did you do something that worked great? I increased my sales many years ago when I stopped asking the customer this question; “How may I help you today?” With this question; “Do you see something you would like to learn more about?” I sold even more when I learned about closing techniques. At my current work we found ways to reduce the time between each caller with 30 sec. giving us the power to handle 80 more calls each day. If you have a manager or a coach, speak to them about your results, they might guide you to see more clearly how to improve. Read more about step 5 in this recent post.

6. Detach yourself from you pay check.
Your salary is of no importance, if it is, you are many steps away from being an excellent employee. I have heard statements like: “Give me more money, and I will produce more”, “I do not give it all, because my pay is not high enough” – Guess what, if you think like this you’ve already lost. I will never give a rise to this personality. If you make pay unimportant, and give it your best, you will be rewarded. If you have accepted a job offer, you have accepted you salary, leave it there. Read more about step 6 in this recent post.

7. Learn and share.
Add value to yourself. Learn more, read about you field of expertise. Most promotions are equal to getting more responsibility and in most cases leadership. Acquire those skills now. Learn your markets; learn about business strategies in your fields. Learn how to motivate others. And when you learn, share your knowledge. Teach others your expertise, motivate others, and take care of others. Make sure you contribute to a happy workplace. Read more about step 7 in this recent post.

8. Grab that ball!
Attitude is everything. I have a theory that divides humans in two groups, those who are afraid of the ball, and those that want the ball at any cost. When I hold motivational speeches a basketball is one of my best props. If you ever saw how a basketball game starts, you’ll know what I mean. I compare the ball to challenges. If you board suddenly decide to sell napkins, darn, we shall be the best napkin sellers in the world. If management decide that we shall get a new task, bring it on, and we shall create gold. The business world is changing fast, you need to be able to adapt and positive about it. I hate it when I hear people say: “We never did this before, why should we do it now?”, “This task should be done by others” and “I do not know how to do this”. Read more about step 8 in this recent post.

9. Involve yourself.
Be pro active towards your manager, ask to discuss topics with them, ask to be evaluated and ask to reflect together. But do not bug them down; remember you need to produce results as well. Volunteer if tasks are given, especially if it is in a topic you love. Read Steve Roesler’s guest post about step 9 here.

10. Get to know your company.
Understand how your company works. If you work in a large company, you might just be a small piece of the puzzle. If you know how your company operates, you’ll easier see the importance of you job, and you might even see where there is room for improvement. If you have a faulty product, it would be nice to know someone who might actually do something about it. You might also discover that bonding with other departments might improve the production all over, as you might learn from each others. If you have a sales department at your job, what can you or your departments do to increase sales? If you work in a small company you might get a high influence, if you know your markets and can produce good ideas that work. Read more about step 1o in this recent post.

11. Be a good example.
Don’t be the one falling asleep under the table at all social happenings, if you drink, don’t get drunk. Have fun, and smile. Be positive about your job, and focus on positivity. Do not get tangled up in negative conversations. There is a difference between criticism and negativity. You can be critical if you have the arguments. But remember, if you are negative, you will create negative co-workers. Treat people good on your way up, cause you might meet them on your way down. Step up to the challenge when needed. Read more about step 11 in this recent post.

12. Relax and recover.
Use your spare time wisely, find a hobby you like or focus on your family. Work is important, but work to live, do not live to work. Find activities that give you energy. Get enough sleep; enjoy your friends and family. Take a walk outside. Do not spend the entire weekend indoors playing world of warcraft. Read something that inspires you. Kiss your spouse. Do one positive thing right now. Do you have chores that need to be done? Do one right now. Clean your bath, or make your living room a nice place to be. Surprise someone with a gift. It is up to you. Read more about step 12 in this recent post.

As a word at the end, I would also recommend to read this post as well.
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8 Comments on "12 easy steps to become a great employee."

  1. Frode Heimen | May 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm |

    Hi Paula.
    I am also delighted to pay an above-average salary to top producers, but that is not the point. I do not want people to settle with low salaries. When I ask myself; would I do this job for free? If I can say yes, I would sure hold the right job for me. The point is not to work for free; the point is that you should not work because of the pay you receive. Would you do any job in the world for $200.000 per year? Most likely, no? I know that I could land a job where I get paid almost twice as I do today. But I love my job, I evolve in my job, I grow in my job and I believe that I still have a lot to learn and give at my current job. I could be selling investments to the elders and robbing them for money with a basic wage that is almost twice my current salary if I wanted to, but that does not match with my values. And I have a lot of fun at my job. I wake up in the morning and want to go to work. That is so much more important than making money. That is why your paycheck should not be important, as it might blind you in your search for your dream job.

  2. A good list, but with one glaring exception.

    “6. Detach yourself from you pay check.”


    I am delighted to pay an above-average salary to top producers. After all, they’re not here for the good of their health; they’re here to earn money for the present and for the future.

    Ask yourself this: Would you work for free?

    Of course not.

    So detaching yourself (or your employees) from money is a sure-fire way to demotivate them.

    Want to recognize high performance? Keep your knick-knacks and stress balls, put away your little bronze plaques and Polo shirts. Reward with money. I know this runs counter to popular thinking – usually, because “popular thinking” comes from vested interests who would rather reward an employee with a $5.00 pen than a decent raise in salary – but the fact is that it works.

  3. Hi Mile High Pixie.
    Glad you like my blog. Feel free to use whatever you like. I would be happy to hear how it goes. I always wanted to be an architect. I read your blog, and you got a cool an meaningful job. Cheers.

  4. Mile High Pixie | September 21, 2008 at 8:15 pm |

    Frode, brilliant. I found you through Steve at All Things Workplace, and I need to find a way to work some (if not all) of your tips into a seminar series I have going on at my office. I lead a group that trains intern architects at my office (I’m a licensed architect) on career issues as well as job issues and problem-solving, and I love these ideas you’ve presented. Well done!

  5. Frode Heimen | August 13, 2008 at 4:49 am |

    Glad you like these 12 steps. “Any employee can follow instructions. It is the exceptional employee that performs extra duties without being told.” – I like this one.

  6. Frode Heimen | August 13, 2008 at 4:47 am |

    Thanks for the comment. I do not believe in energy drinks. If you fall asleep during the day, you must have others problems that must be dealt with first. Energy drinks is not the soulution.

  7. Ron Meledandri - Sentra Business Solutions | August 12, 2008 at 2:37 am |

    I think your 12 steps are very good. In addition, I have always been impressed by the employee who shows initiative – someone who takes on a new task, helps a fellow employee, etc. without being told to do so. Any employee can follow instructions. It is the exceptional employee that performs extra duties without being told.

  8. Those are good tips for being a great employee especially being nice to co-workers it makes the work day go by so much easier. One problem I also have at work is falling asleep on the job and I find the only thing that helps to give that extra energy to make it through the day is 6 Hour Power. Have you heard of it?
    6 Hour Power is the energy drink that you can feel fast and will last! 6 Hour Power will help to enhance your concentration and improve your performance at whatever you’re doing at the moment. It’s not like those other energy drinks that will bring you up and then crash, 6 Hour Power will give you the energy you need and that’s it! Did I mention that it’s sugar free and comes in 5 delicious flavors?!
    Go see for yourself at http://www.6hrpower.com/
    I am brand ambassador for 6 Hour Power, and ever since I started working for them I find whenever I need a little pick me up an orange 6 Hour Power definitely does the trick!
    I hope I didn’t overstep my bounds by posting on your blog, and if you have any questions or want more info feel free to shoot me an email. I would love to know what you think of the energy drink!
    Feel it fast.
    Energy that lasts!
    Elle Davis
    Brand Ambassador

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