How to be an Effective Employee

Sometimes being an effective employee is easy and sometimes it’s not —work responsibilities and circumstances vary, as do relationships with co-workers. One thing is certain: your attitude makes a big difference in how successful you are at work.

A positive attitude is a requirement of all of the following tips for improving your chances of succeeding at work.

Communicate positively and co-operate with others

  • Be friendly, supportive and co-operative. Develop a reputation for being easy to work with.
  • Contribute to the team. Everyone appreciates it when you help others who are swamped with work.
  • Treat everyone as your equal. The Golden Rule applies. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Compliment others when they deserve praise.
  • Don’t discus anything you would not want repeated; especially personal weaknesses or those of co-workers.
  • Ask for help when needed. People don’t mind explaining or demonstrating tasks if it is obvious that you have already tried to work the problem out on your own.
  • Be a good communicator. Give people your undivided attention during discussions, let them finish what they are saying and make sure you understand what has been said before you respond.
  • Be aware of your body language. Communication problems arise when what you say doesn’t match what your body is communicating.
  • Never criticize people in public. When you give feedback, do it in private, in an objective, constructive manner that helps people understand what they should do differently instead of just making them feel bad.
  • Communicate in a relaxed, patient and pleasant manner. People respond much better to calm discussion than to anger, sarcasm or commands.

Look and act the part of a responsible worker

  • Dress appropriately for the job. Consider the type of work you are doing, how your co-workers dress and the company image.
  • Look and act confident. Speak calmly, clearly and loudly enough to be heard. Look at people when they speak to you. Try not to appear flustered when things get very busy or when you are doing something for the first time.
  • Keep your work area neat and clean.
  • Be productive. Be on time for work. Don’t take extra-long coffee breaks, look after private business while you are on the job, or spend excessive amounts of time socializing. Let your employer know if you are going to be unavoidably late or absent, and use sick leave only when you are sick.
  • Finish important tasks even if it means working through breaks or occasionally staying past quitting time.
  • Use your time wisely. Plan ahead and do the most important tasks first. Organize your workspace and concentrate on one thing at a time, if you can. Take advantage of quiet times to do things you can see need to be done.

Set high work standards

  • Do good quality work of an appropriate quantity. Meeting work standards, quotas and deadlines goes a long way toward earning the approval of your supervisors and encouraging customers and clients to come back.
  • Make sure you understand the instructions before you start work on a new task. If there is a chance you will forget, write the instructions down.
  • The first few times you perform a task, follow instructions precisely. Ask your supervisor to check if you are doing things right before potential mistakes become a problem.
  • Be thorough. Do your work as correctly and carefully as possible. Check your work before handing it over. Don’t hesitate to do a job over if you think it might be unsatisfactory.
  • Work at a steady pace. Be a person who always gets things done.
  • Learn the “tricks of the trade” from senior staff and be open to new ideas about how you can improve your work.
  • Take responsibility for completing your work. When you have finished one task, move on to the next activity without waiting to be told.

Positive attitudes toward work and the people at work will help you to get your work done effectively and creatively and establish relationships that are pleasant and co-operative.

From ALIS

The R’s Of Employee Motivation

If you think your employee’s poor performance is costing you profit, instead of overhauling your employee roster, why not try motivating them to become better employees? Smart managers never overlook this fact: loyal, productive employees are one of your biggest assets. From corporate cubicles to the factory floor, the collective skills and efforts of people keep your operation going.

You can easily set the right tone in the workplace by learning to respond to a basic need we all share… which is to be respected and valued.

What you need?
You know I got it!

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

Everyone wants to be treated with respect.

As a manager, your words, body language, even your facial expressions make a huge difference in how employees perceive your opinion of them. For instance, extending common courtesies such as “Good morning” or a nod as you pass others in the hallway says to them that they are not invisible to you.

Other demonstrations of respect could include asking employees for suggestions to improve operations and/or management. It’s another way of saying, “I respect and value your opinions.”

And never forget, meeting in private, with an employee who may have missed the mark says, “I respect you enough not to embarrass you in front of your co-workers…”

Recognition

Two powerful words are important in employee motivation… “Great Job!”

By recognizing the work of others, you motivate them to keep working. You’ll find that regularly giving verbal or written praise for a job well done goes a long way in making employees feel appreciated. If workers feel that they play an important part in the company by the work they provide, they are much more likely to seek ways to improve their performance.

Reward

While cash incentives are a sure way to put a smile on an employee’s face, there are other creative ways to motivate employees through “thoughtful” gestures.

For individual rewards, how about gift certificates for DVD rentals, music CD purchases, theme park tickets or “Dinner for 2″ at a local eatery?

For group or departmental appreciations, consider a “Leave Work 30 Minutes Early Next Friday” reward. Or once-a-month, spring for dessert treats in honor of those celebrating birthdays in that calendar month. You are limited only by your imagination and budget.

Placing respect, recognition and reward at the heart of your employee motivation efforts will serve to boost morale, increase productivity and positively affect the company’s bottom-line. A WIN-WIN-WIN situation for all.

(These are not original thoughts, I’ve seen this piece attributed to various writers.)

How to Write a Eulogy

I attended a funeral some time ago for a woman who had lived a good, long life. There were two eulogies given, one by a long-time friend and the other from a family member. It was interesting to hear the similar themes that came out as they spoke of someone who had played an important part in their lives.

I’ve only ever given one eulogy. Deaths of family and friends have been few and far between. If called upon to give a eulogy, here is a simple template I would use.

  • Introduce yourself and your connection to the deceased. “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Ian and Mavis was my aunt.”
  • Briefly summarize the life of the deceased:
    • When they were born
    • Where they were born
    • Growing up
    • Marriage, family, etc
  • Briefly summarize the accomplishments of the deceased:
    • Education
    • Skills
    • Career
    • Hobbies
  • Share happy memories. Mix in tasteful humorous memories, but be careful. Only talk about the good times if the final years have been sad. For example, cite a characteristic expression or an activity that everyone will recognize.
  • Talk about something(s) you learned from this person:
    • Their motivation or passion
    • How they changed someone’s life
  • Tell why you’ll always remember the person.
  • End with a final goodbye.

Keep it flowing. A eulogy should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have one theme. It shouldn’t jump around from topic to topic, but rather stay tightly focused. In other words, while the occasion is sad, a eulogy is still a speech. Treat it like one.

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Enhance Your Langauge Skills for Successful Public Speaking

Words on a Wall

Another essential skill for successful speakers is using the correct form of the language. Being limited to English, I can’t say what equivalent errors might exist in other languages. However, nothing can destroy your credibility as a speaker than the misuse of the language. Toastmasters International highlights the importance of correct language by appointing a Grammarian to listen to everyone’s word usage and report on language used during the course of a meeting.

Rather than try and provide detailed information for all types of language land mines, here are links to resources, which can help you improved your language skills:

  • Improve your diction. How you pronounce words will affect the way an audience perceives your credibility as a speaker. Here is a list of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.
  • Improve your grammar. Many people feel grammar is a secondary issue of little importance. The rise of text messaging has destroyed written grammar and syntax. Grammar is important for conveying information in a way that can be understood and not misunderstood. The Online English Grammar gives you access to English language learning and resource services.
  • Improve your usage. There are many words in the English language that are so much alike speakers often mistake one for another. Perhaps the most exhaustive resource on usage is Paul Brians’ site, Common Errors in English.
  • Avoid technical language. Unless of course, you’re speaking to a technical audience. Just because you understand the jargon and terms you’re using, doesn’t mean your audience will. Adjust your speech appropriately.
  • Words to look out for:
    • Fad words – bottom line, time frame, viable…
    • Extra words – naturally, actually, frankly, so to speak…
    • Slang – fresh, dis, Fo’ shizzle, Homey… hip hop examples, but they exist in all social groups.
    • Words ending in wise – healthwise, moneywise, timewise…
    • Degrading words – slang terms for different nationalities.
    • Profanity

Say just what you want to say in words that everyone will understand the same way. Murphy’s Law of Communication, “If people can misunderstand you, they will misunderstand you.”

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7 Deadly Sins of Public Speaking

It takes a lot of preparation to craft the kind of speech or presentation that is going to grab your listener’s attention. Once the speech is crafted, you need to spend a lot of time practising, so as to make sure you keep their attention.

Listeners don’t give their attention lightly and it doesn’t take much for it to wander. Here are seven bad speaking habits that will guarantee your listeners will be focusing on other things, instead of what you’re presenting.

  1. Rambling – if you don’t know where you’re going, the audience is not going to follow. If you do not have anything to say, sit down! No one has ever complained about a speech that ended early.
  2. Speaking in a monotone – not only are you at risk of losing their attention, you might even put them to sleep. Speaking in a monotonous voice is a real communication killer. When you don’t vary the pitch of your voice, it is difficult for the listener to maintain any interest in what you’re saying.
  3. Appearing to have limited topic knowledge – people come to listen because they expect you know what you’re talking about. You need to know your topic backwards and forwards. Research your topic thoroughly while preparing your speech.
  4. Poor eye contact – lack of eye contact creates a barrier between you and the audience. Make a connection to the listener; they want to know you’re speaking to them.
  5. Pacing, wandering or fidgeting – often a sign of nerves, it can be distracting to the audience. You may not eliminate the nerves, but preparation and practice can reduce the appearance of nerves.
  6. Lack of preparation – if you haven’t made the effort to prepare, why should the audience make the effort to listen?
  7. Poor storytelling skills – nothing communicates concepts better than stories. If you want to hold on to the listener’s attention, learn to tell stories well.

Tips for Communicating with Angry or Violent People

A number of years ago I was involved in the termination of an employee. He was about eight inches taller than me and had 70 or 80 pounds on me. His supervisor delivered the bad news, we reviewed the termination process and documents and then stood to leave.

Suddenly, he was standing toe to toe looking down on me. His fists were clenched at his side as he yelled. I responded as calmly and quietly as a could. This went on for a few minutes, which felt like an eternity. At any moment, I expected one of those fists lashing at my head. Eventually, he turned, left the room and I collapsed into the nearest chair, my nerves shot.

As you can imagine, losing a job provokes a wide range of reactions from people. Some respond with shock and walk away quietly in a daze, others break down in tears and others still get violent and abusive.

I have learned a few lessons about communicating with people who are angry, hostile or violent.

  • Focus your attention on the other person to let them know you are interested in what they have to say.
  • Do not glare or stare, which may be perceived as a challenge.
  • Remain calm and try to calm the other person. Don’t let the other person’s anger become your anger.
  • Remain conscious of how you deliver your words.
  • Speak slowly, quietly and confidently.
  • Speak simply. Do not rely on official language or complex terminology.
  • Avoid communicating a lot of technical or complicated information when emotions are high.
  • Listen carefully. Do not interrupt or offer unsolicited advice or criticism.
  • Encourage the person to talk. Do not tell the person to relax or calm down.
  • Remain open-minded and objective.
  • Use silence as a calming tool.
  • Acknowledge the person’s feelings. Indicate that you can see he or she is upset.

Non-verbal behaviour

  • Keep your body language calm. Have a relaxed posture with unclenched hands and an attentive expression.
  • Position yourself so your exit from the situation is not blocked.
  • Position yourself at a right angle to the other person, not directly in front.
  • Allow adequate personal space —two to four feet.
  • Get on the same physical level as the other person: sit down if they are sitting, rather than standing over them.
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