Regardless of Generation, These Tips Lead to Success in the Workplace
By Adrienne Epstein
Renee Miller and I were having a conversation about best practices in the workplace, and even though we are generations apart, we discovered that we share a lot of the same beliefs. Many of my best practices as a young professional resonated with Renee, and vice versa.
As a result, we decided to compile 10 of our favorite tips for guaranteeing success in the workplace – no matter how large or small the company. Most of this is common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people forget these obvious practices. I hope you find them valuable!
1. Handwritten Thank-You Notes
We’re not just talking about follow-up emails at the end of an interview or a new business meeting! We mean taking the time to write a handwritten note. No matter who you are, there is nothing like getting a handwritten thank-you note from someone — it demonstrates a next level of commitment and care that oftentimes gets lost in today’s steady stream of electronic emails. What’s more, colleagues tend to keep these notes.
2. Networking: Asking for Coffee
We all know about networking, but is sending a LinkedIn connect invitation enough? Probably not. What makes people stand out is in-person networking — inviting colleagues and potential employers to coffee. The invitation demonstrates curiosity and commitment to growth, and gives professionals the chance to actually learn and remember my name and face (serving me better than just another email). These in-person connections foster long-term relationships that may lead to future opportunities. Plus, I get the chance to explore some nearby coffee spots.
Have you ever been given a task that you weren’t sure you could handle? Before giving up, I always try Googling, watching tutorial videos on YouTube, and asking colleagues for help. Too often, people don’t put in the effort or take the time to seek assistance. Even just trying shows a willingness to learn and demonstrates a “can-do” attitude.
4. Staying in Touch
Don’t let past connections die. I make the effort to stay in touch with mentors and colleagues through email updates, LinkedIn posts, and by scheduling coffee. Too often, we let our network fade out because we forget to nurture our connections. This can easily be avoided by sending semi-annual updates to your network. For example, if you’re switching jobs, send an update! It can make all the difference, especially since many jobs are given through word of mouth. Keeping your connections alive can help facilitate that next step in your career.
5. Owning Up to a Mistake
We ALL make mistakes, but how you own up to your mistakes makes all the difference. This makes me (Adrienne) think of a time when a recruiter emailed me that I mistyped my phone number on my resume. I was immediately embarrassed and rather than getting defensive or apologetic, I fessed up and said I would fix the mistake immediately. The same recruiter responded, “Why should we give you a chance if you can’t even proofread your resume?” I took a beat and responded, “because you want someone who can own up to their mistakes and correct them immediately.” To my surprise, they offered me a position. Like I said, we all make mistakes, both big and little, but how we manage them moving forward is how we are remembered. Put a positive spin on the mistake and learn from it.
6. Always Respond
No one likes to be ghosted. Period. When someone doesn’t respond, it feels like the person you are reaching out to doesn’t care about what you have to say or what you want. Even though some people might not respond to you, be the bigger person. Always acknowledge someone when they reach out to you and thank them for their time. It’s also important to respond in a timely manner. If you forget to respond or you’re too busy to respond in a timely manner, the best thing to do is to own up to being busy or missing the email and immediately apologize. Giving a reply leads to better outcomes and improves your reputation. Plus, you never want to burn a bridge.
7. Paying it Forward
It’s always important to help those around you — You never know who might help you get your foot in the door. We are big believers in karma and what goes around, comes around. For this reason, I (Adrienne) always try to connect people to opportunities as I hear about them, and in return always appreciate it when my friends and colleagues send me events or job opportunities I might be interested in. These have often led to the internships/jobs that I’ve accepted! To return the favor, I always try my best to send opportunities to members of my network.
8. Respecting Time – Yours & Other Peoples
Have you heard the saying, “Early is on time. On time is late. And late is unacceptable.” While this is a great idea, it can feel nearly impossible to be “on time” if you’re relying on the will of traffic (especially in a city like Los Angeles). Living in a large city with infamous traffic means preparing for the unexpected. So what do you do when you’re running late, besides giving yourself at least 30 minutes of flex time? Best practice is to inform whoever you’re meeting that you’re running late ahead of time whenever possible. This can be as simple as sending a quick ETA update via email to ensure you acknowledge and respect the time of everyone involved. Additionally, it allows for the flexibility of changing an in-person meeting to a phone meeting. On the other hand, if you arrive early to a meeting, you can use this precious time to get some additional work done!
9. Complimenting People
Anyone can give or receive a compliment! It’s free, quick, and means a lot to a person. Everyone likes to be told their work matters and they are doing a good job, and I like to point out the things I admire about my colleagues or bosses, and the work they do. It can be as small as, “I appreciate you taking the time to train me properly,” or recognizing an employer that is working really hard on a project or task. No matter the compliment, it’s a great way to spread positivity and encouragement.
10. Attitude & Authenticity
“I can” versus “I can’t.” Whenever I’m (Adrienne) asked to do something, I always try to have a positive attitude and make it happen. This can be as small as asking, “is there anything more I can do before I leave?” at the end of a workday to leaving by saying, “I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.” It can also be reframing seemingly impossible tasks in your head to, “I cannot do this YET.” Switching to a growth mentality can make all the difference. And if you have the ability, bring your authentic self to work. Personally, I (Adrienne) love to make people laugh and try to bring that into the workspace whenever possible and when appropriate. Finding ways to integrate yourself and your personality into your work can make all the difference.
Feel free to share your feedback with me – firstname.lastname@example.org or Renee Miller: email@example.com. We welcome your thoughts and additional tips along with any anecdotes you’d like to share!