Trend Lines: Work is what you make it

Last time, I wrote about my grandson and his friends looking for their first jobs. I’ve also had talks with them about what it takes to be successful when you do get hired. Here are some insights from those conversations. Perhaps it’s good advice for anyone, not just for teens.

Listen, watch, and learn. Be patient. Make it a priority to understand how the organization works. Who are the best employees? The worst? What do the best employees do every day? What does it take to be successful in THIS organization? Watch your boss closely. See what she does. Learn what is important to her or him. And listen. The old adage that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason is a good guide here. Learn the business. See your job as more than simply doing what you’re told to do. Ask questions. The more you understand the business, the better employee you become.

Initiative is important. Go in with a willing spirit each day, determined to be the absolute best you can be at your job, whatever that job is. One of my favorite lines from a job description is “be open to what needs to be done and take the initiative to see that it happens.” Look for opportunities. Ask to take on more responsibility. Volunteer to do what others don’t want to do. Make yourself a valuable employee.

One word of caution here. Remember that “no” is sometimes the right answer. Don’t take on more when you have all you can handle. Be open and honest with your boss, and with yourself, about just how much you can do. Better to take on a bit less and do it well than take on more and do it poorly.

Happy employees make happy bosses -- and happy customers. The attitude you take to work is perhaps the most important thing you take with you. No matter the circumstances, what’s important is how you choose to respond. So remember that happiness is a choice and you can make it every day -- or not.

Dress the part. Take pride in how you look and what you wear. Even if you’re working outside and in a dirty job, you can start the day fresh and clean. Take a shower! No one wants a stinky coworker. Image is important and your choices reflect on your judgment big time.

Be careful with social media. In this age of instant connection, it’s tempting to have a bad day at work and want to go home and vent on Facebook or Twitter. Not acceptable! Anything you post openly can get back to your boss. And venting in public does nothing but reflect badly on your judgment! And no selfies or Snapchatting at work.

Very often, work is what you make it. A willing spirit, a great attitude, good judgment and a little patience go a long way toward you being both happy and successful in your job.