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11 things smart people do at work

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Eve Mosongo | November 25th 2018

There are skills that can be taught or passed along with time, but some key traits are not teachable. Here is a list of a few that will play a major role in advancing your career.

1. Attitude. Your boss can teach you most skills, but attitude isn’t one of them. Recently, a new employee quit a very promising job at a communications company just because his probation period was extended. His boss shared that he didn’t even ask why this decision was made; after receiving the news, he didn’t show up at work the following day. This was intolerable. Employers also gauge your attitude by observing how you interact with colleagues and junior members of staff. You may be an employee who can pick up new skills easily, or a job candidate who ticks all the boxes, but, remember that attitude also carries a lot of weight.

2. Confidence. This is a trait that you need to wear like a cloak. Customers don’t want to seek advice from someone who lacks confidence. They will doubt what you are saying if you don’t appear knowledgeable about what you’re selling.

3. Knowing how to talk to people. If striking up a conversation doesn’t come easy to you, you likely won’t enjoy or succeed in your job. Performance reviews are done to see how key business areas are performing against expectations and, at times, they are used to reward top employees. That is how *Sheila, who started as a front office receptionist at one of the major hotels in the country, ended up heading the marketing team at the establishment. Why? Her boss saw how she easily struck up conversations with guests and how they related to her. He has never regretted this decision.

4. Respect. Being respectful of others at work can easily help you solve misunderstandings. Respect also boosts productivity. Look at it this way… when you’re at peace with your workmates, you don’t have the time to focus on shallow and petty ideas.

5.  How to open up. There are advantages to sharing what you’re doing rather than hiding it from your competitors. For example, if your department excels at pitching great ideas, consider sharing your secret for success with colleagues in other departments. They’ll be grateful, your team will want to work even harder to re-establish its edge, and the company as a whole will benefit.

6. Problem-solving. If you want to get ahead, this is a skill that you need to develop, fast. When your boss gives you an assignment, he expects results. Therefore, telling him that you can’t deliver due to snags, doesn’t cut it. Learn to think out of the box. If you’ve exhausted all avenues, reach out and let them know, and come up with ideas of other ways to get results. This also shows innovation. As a problem -solver, being able to constructively work through disagreements with colleagues is a sure indicator of maturity – as well as leadership potential. Use this skill to help you promote a healthy, collaborative workplace.

7. Critical observation. Organisations need critical thinkers – employees with a fresh perspective who offer intuitive solutions and ideas to help the company get ahead. You need to be able to analyse information and use it well. You can do this by identifying patterns of behaviour at work. For example, what is the best time to approach your boss with a question? How does he take bad news during a staff meeting? You’ll understand better the critical aspects of improving business operations by observing how people respond to the constant flow of information.

8. Leadership. This helps you gain visibility within the organisation, and managers are always looking for employees with leadership potential as they will one day be taking over the reins and building on the organisation’s legacy. Therefore, learn how to inspire and help others reach their full potential.

9. Self-motivation. When asked what matters the most in an employee, many managers will tell you that it’s commitment to the job. A lot of employees can say that they are motivated, but few can show it through their actions. Hopefully, you are one of the few.  

10. Passion. In some organisations, when it comes to which is more important between skill and passion, it is usually a toss-up, but there are bosses who will go with the latter. Most of the skill-set you have, you have learned over time, or someone has passed them along through training. But passion? This is ingrained in your DNA. Your ability to see your company’s vision, your ability to be passionate, share that passion and buy into the vision, all this comes from within yourself.

11. Adaptability. Employers need workers who can adapt to industry shifts and keep the company current as the speed of change is very rapid. Meet challenges head-on – push yourself and acclimatise to change early, especially when it comes to technology.     

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