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Tips for new employees at any job.

by Buck Hardcastle 2 years ago in advice
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3 simple rules that will increase your chance at success.

There are a lot of books out there on how to succeed in business, but they are largely aimed at executives, which most people will never be. This is a guide for everyone else--though these rules are so universal they are also applicable to executives. These rules might seem banal and obvious, but I’ve seen plenty of people fail because they didn’t follow them.

1. Show up.

In order to be successful at a job, you need to show up when you’re scheduled to be there. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this, yet plenty of people find excuses to not do it. When you start a job, unless you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, you need to show up everyday. Car broke down? Call an Uber (I realize this can take a lot of your wages, but if you lose your job then you’ll have no wages). Lost your babysitter? Have a contingency plan in place--are there places nearby that offer daycare on demand? Hungover? Take a shower, drink some coffee and get in there.

50% of being a good employee is just showing up. I don’t care how awesome you are at your job, if you don’t show up, it doesn’t matter. And you should absolutely never ever do a no call-no show. I don’t care if every bone in your body is broken, you find a way to let your boss know that you can’t make it in.

2. Do what you’re told to do.

Let’s say your manager tells you to sweep the floor. Now, I don’t know your manager, but I can guarantee that they don’t want to hear anything like this:

“It’s Nevaeh’s turn to sweep the floor.”

“Michael Wayne made that mess, so he should have to clean it up.”

“That’s not my job.”

“I don’t think the floor needs to be swept.”

No. No manager wants to get into a discussion about sweeping the floor, they just want the job done. The same principle applies if your manager tells you to update the accounts receivable, call customers or replace an air filter. Unless you’re being ordered to commit a war crime, you need to just do what you’re told.

This can be hard for some people because they expect their opinion to matter, but just really doesn’t. After you’ve been at the job for a while, and established yourself as a good employee then you can talk to your boss about something you think is inefficient and ought to change. “Hey boss, I know you want us to set all ten dollar bills we receive on fire to protest the musical Hamilton, but we could take them to the bank and exchange them for other bills, it would save us a lot of money.” Even then though, if your boss says no, this is the only way that he can express his disgust with Lin-Manuel Miranda, then you just have to accept it and keep setting those sawbucks ablaze.

3. Be nice.

There’s a reason you’re taught to be nice to others in kindergarten: because it matters. When you start a new job, you are going to make mistakes, you just are. Don’t beat yourself up about it, this will happen to everyone. Hopefully your co-workers will take a mistake as a teaching opportunity to show you how to do your job better. However, if you’re a jerk that gets on everyone’s nerves, when you make a mistake they will use it as an excuse to push you out the door.

Some big businesses have a point system for attendance. It usually works like this: half a point for being late, a point for missing work, two points for a no-call, no-show (again, NEVER do a no-call, no-show). Once you have a set number of points, you’re automatically terminated. Here’s a little secret though: most managers don’t really like giving out points. It’s a distraction from real work, it’s unpopular and if they enforce the points too vigorously they may find themselves without any employees. However, if you piss your manager off, they will give you the points. They will watch the time clock like a hawk to see if you show up late.

So offer to help others. Express gratitude. Don’t gossip. Be nice.

Follow these three simple rules: show up, do what you’re told and be nice; and you will be more likely to be successful at pretty much any job.


About the author

Buck Hardcastle

Served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine, 2005-07.

Viscount of Hyrkania and private cartographer to the house of Beifong.

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