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How to Excel at Work

How to excel at work

In these times of increasing job insecurity, excelling at your job is the key way to retain your position. It doesn’t matter what job you do, there are certain qualities, working habits, attitudes and types of behaviour which will ensure you keep your job and continue on your path up the career ladder.

In this guide you’ll learn how to be the best worker you can possibly be with handy tips about:

  • How to work effectively
  • How to achieve your goals
  • How to maximise your virtues
  • How to improve work relations
  • How to make up for wrong behaviour
  • How and when to ask for a pay rise or promotion

How to work effectively

To make a god impression on others, always dress appropriately and behave professionally. You should always be punctual and preferably arrive 10-15 minutes early so you can get everything ready before your shift begins. Similarly, don’t be a clock-watcher and be the first to dash out the door at the end of the working day. Clear up your workplace so it’s ready for the next shift or for you in the morning. You should also maintain a good work attendance – of course we all get ill sometimes but don’t take a day off sick for minor ailments.

Colleagues at the office are discussing about work

During your working day, you should act professionally and remember you’re being paid to work. There’s a difference between having a 5-minute chat with a colleague about their weekend and a 30-minute conversation of gossip about your co-workers and managers. In the same way, your personal life should be kept separate from work. Don’t spend time on your mobile or social media during your working hours and limit personal calls to an emergency.

How to achieve your goals

For your value as an employee to be recognised, you should always make sure that your workload doesn’t pile up so it becomes unmanageable. You should know how to prioritise so that you can meet the deadlines given. If there’s a problem with a project, this shouldn’t be discovered at the last minute. Instead, think of a solution to the problem before discussing the matter with your manager. In this way, you’ll be seen as a problem-solver rather than a whinger.

Asking for clarification will save time and prevent you making mistakes

Learn how to be a good listener. This means that you’ll be able to follow instructions and do the job well. However, if something is unclear, ask for clarification – this will save time and prevent you making mistakes.

Get to know the way your boss wants the work to be done so you can meet their expectations better. When you promise something, you should always follow through on your commitments without excuses.

How to Maximise your Virtues

Once you’ve learnt the ropes in a job, this isn’t a reason to slacken off. Instead you should be thinking ahead. From working competently, you need to make the next step – to excel.

Whenever there are opportunities to do any kind of training or seminars (often paid for by the company), grab the chance. It shows that you know the value of life-long learning and that you’re prepared to improve yourself so you can offer more to the company.

A group of professionals are attending a seminar conducted at their company's offices

If your manager asks for volunteers, always be ready to take on a new challenge. Not only will it take you out of your comfort zone and give you greater job satisfaction but your contribution and willingness to try something new will be recognised and you’ll be seen as an asset.

Whatever the policy of your company, always ask your boss for regular feedback on your work performance. Accept any criticism gracefully and be prepared to work on your weaknesses so you can improve.

How to improve work relations

You should treat everyone in the workplace with courtesy, respect and kindness – whatever their position is in relation to yours. Always thank anyone who has helped you to show your appreciation. To work well as part of a team, you need to be able to listen but also to communicate your ideas well but concisely. Be prepared to resolve any conflict which arises (without running to the manager to act as a referee) and give credit where credit is due.

You shouldn’t expect a pay rise until  you’ve been with a company for a year

Do you remember how it felt when you’d just been hired? When people are new, give them some handy training tips and make it clear you’re willing to help if they encounter any difficulties. Be careful what you say to them. This isn’t the time to gossip about co-workers or to moan about the boss or the company.

How to Make up for Wrong Behaviour

Making mistakes is part of what makes us human – you will make an error of judgement at one point in your career. When it happens to you, try not to get emotional or upset but listen to the criticism, apologise and promise that it won’t happen again. You must take responsibility for your actions and shouldn’t blame others (even if their actions contributed to the error). If your mistake involved your work, think about how you can rectify it so it causes the minimum of extra work and inconvenience for your team.

You must take responsibility for your actions and shouldn’t blame others even if their actions contributed to the error.

You may feel afterwards that everyone is watching you and waiting for you to slip up again. Adopt a positive attitude and try to put it behind you. Your strength of character will show how you’ve learnt from the mistake.

How and When to Ask for a Pay Rise or Promotion

Realistically, you shouldn’t expect a pay rise or promotion until you’ve been with a company for at least a year. Ask the Human Resources department for the firm’s policy on pay rises and promotions and if necessary, arrange a meeting with your immediate superior to discuss this issue. Prepare well for the meeting so you can put forward your case about how your contribution to the company deserves a reward with examples of the projects you’ve successfully completed.


There’s a difference between being a competent worker and an excellent one. Being prepared to go the extra mile, attention to detail and an enthusiasm to learn new skills all show your value as an employee. In this case, you may find that pay rises and promotions come your way without you having to ask.

About the author

Faith Hastings

Faith is a proud mother of three and runs a busy home. She has a lot of experience in housefold finance and loves to write articles for

Faith enjoys shopping, travelling and spending time with her family.

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About The Author

Faith Hastings

Faith is a proud mother of three and runs a busy home. She has a lot of experience in housefold finance and loves to write articles for

Faith enjoys shopping, travelling and spending time with her family.

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