It’s 3am and you’re putting the finishing touches on the project that’s taken up the best part of three months. You’ve logged the long hours, but once the project is handed in there’s a resounding silence from your boss.
Doubt sets in. Are you doing okay at your job? Is no news actually good news?
Gauging how well you are performing at your job can be difficult, particularly if you have a boss who’s light on giving feedback. But for your own sake (and that of your career) it’s important to know whether you’re being the best you can be.
How good are you actually at your job?
Here are some tips on how to find out if you are being the best version of yourself in the workplace, and how to seek improvement if you’re not quite there yet.
The obvious place to start is to ask your employer for feedback. Some bosses are great at holding regular performance reviews or just doling out casual feedback, others are not.
It’s probably not great to ask every day how your boss thinks you did – this can indicate to them a lack of self confidence and undermine your intentions. Instead, catch up and ask for feedback and come prepared with a list of questions. You may consider suggesting regular feedback sessions.
Casually talking with your colleagues, clients, suppliers or other people who you work with can also be helpful. Taking a ‘I want to improve’ approach rather than a ‘so, am I good, was I great, aren’t I fab?’ angle will likely get more useful feedback.
They say you never really know someone until you’ve walked in their shoes, so why not give it a go in a work context?
Shadowing a colleague or boss is a great way to not only gain skills and knowledge but an opportunity to analyse your own performance, results and approaches when compared to theirs.
Taking time out to reflect on your own performance regularly – monthly, weekly or even daily – can be extremely valuable. Look carefully and you may realise that actions, rather than words, give an indication of your job performance.
Did your boss come to you for an opinion or depend on you to see a task through?
Did you take ownership of and solve, a tricky problem?
Were you asked to represent the company in some way?
Did people come to you with questions and were you able to answer them, or have the ability to search for an answer?
Are you in charge of your own work and have you been giving an increasing level of responsibility?
Consider how you could have improved a situation or outcome, how your actions influenced a situation and whether you’ll do anything different next time.
Five tips on being the best you can be in your role
Be a problem solving guru and an ideas machine
No boss likes to have a problem thrown at them by an employee who then turns and runs. If you have a problem, and inevitably problems do occur, then before you slink up to the boss’s desk it might pay to compile a list of solutions.
Even if none of those solutions are used, at least you’ve shown initiative and dedication to sorting the issue out. Anything that makes life easier in the workplace will surely be appreciated.
Aim high, and then aim a little bit higher
While it’s great that you get your job done (and done well), setting some higher goals for yourself and proving that you can achieve them can not only impress, but can add to your own job satisfaction.
Don’t be the person who volunteers for every job going and then gets nothing done. Instead, impress your employers by carefully and reasonably prioritising tasks to ensure that everything is done to the highest standard possible.
Explain why you have prioritised and make it clear that this will enable you to complete the tasks to the best of your ability: Surely nobody can complain about that.
It seems obvious, but arriving on time, doing what you say you’ll do, and delivering on promises is something that employers rather appreciate.
Are you not able to meet that deadline, attend that meeting or deliver that project as expected? Then clear communication about the reasons why, along with a possible solution, is key.
Have an opinion, but back it up
Before you open your mouth to impress people with your incredible knowledge, ensure there’s some substance behind your humble opinions.
Gathering information is as easy as checking online for the latest industry news, trends and research, joining an online forum or lecture the night before or squeezing in a bit of research on your phone during your morning commute. Once your boss knows your opinion is reliable, they’ll probably come back for more.
When it’s time to face facts
You might be being the best you can be, but is your current job best for you? If you know you’re great at what you do but things don’t feel right – you’re not meshing with your boss, job satisfaction is low and everyone else is getting a promotion – it might simply be a sign to move on.