As a millennial only four years into my professional career, I am fortunate enough to have had some really amazing bosses who have taught me a lot about being successful in my career. As someone who likes to learn things the hard way, I am no rookie at making mistakes; but I am very grateful for the learning opportunities those mistakes provided me with. As a well-dressed, bubbly and blonde woman, I was told from the start that I would need to work harder than the rest to earn respect in the workplace. During the first four years of my career, here is what I have learned:
1. “Never make the same mistake twice. You WILL make mistakes; in fact, I encourage you to do so. Mistakes are how we learn. But don’t ever make the same mistake twice.” It’s not the mistake that defines you, it’s what you do to fix it that counts. Whether your mistake requires immediate action, or just the acknowledgement that it cannot happen again, what you do next is what builds your character.
2. “Don’t ask me what to do, tell me what you are going to do.” Don’t walk into your boss’s office with a problem unless you’re prepared to offer him solutions too. If you’re off the mark, they will tell you what they think you should do to solve the problem instead.
3. Volunteer for everything. Be the person that everyone comes to if they need help. Increase your network by volunteering your time for things that you may not necessarily enjoy doing, and you will be recognized for your efforts. You will be appreciated by colleagues and managers and respected for juggling all of your responsibilities while helping everyone else with theirs.
4. Do everything you can to support your boss and to have their back. Be someone who everyone wants to have in their corner. If your boss looks good, you look good. Taking the blame for things that were out of your control, or giving up committees you enjoy participating on sucks, but your bosses needs are your #1 priority, and although it may not feel like it right now, your efforts and sacrifices are appreciated and will serve you well in the future.
5. Work harder than everyone around you. You are responsible for your own success in your day-to-day work, and your career. Work through your lunch when you have to, help others with their work when necessary, take your work home if you can, and “wow” your boss with your hard work. Be tenacious, be driven, put in the work, and get results.
6. Impression manage with everything you say and everything you do. People will always judge you. They may be jealous of the respect you earn as a result of your hard work, or the opportunities you create for yourself. They may jump at the opportunity to exploit your mistakes, or try to make you fail. But walk into the office every day with a smile. Handle yourself professionally, and kill them with kindness. Demand respect through professionalism and hard work.
Have you had a really great boss or mentor that you’ve learned a lot from since beginning your career? Tell me about it in the comments!