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You Are Here: Career Resources > Career Management > Become a Star!

Become a Star! : Improve Your Performance at Work

by Gordon Miller

One of the questions I most often get asked on my talk-radio show "The Career Coach" is, "how do I achieve a happy and successful career in todayís rapidly changing job market?" Truth is, there are lots of ways. But in my humble, small-town Iowa opinion, the single best way is to become a Star Performer at work.

Can the Joe and Joanna Ordinary of the working world reach that heretofore reserved-for-a-very-few designation? The good news is most of us can. According to a recent study by the Carnegie Mellon Institute, the chances of you and I elevating our level of play may be easier than we thought. Hereís why;

  • Star Performers donít have to be geniuses. In fact, Star Performers had a lower average IQ than the average working stiff! I love to quote that statistic because it gives people like me a fighting chance. It means I donít have to have an MBA or have a degree in the latest technology about to hit the scene.

  • Star Performers donít work all that hard. Thatís right. The average Star Performer actually works fewer hours per week than Joe and Joanna. Thatís encouraging, because I always thought the "top rung" of workers dedicated every living hour to the Company Store.

There are many other reasons why being a Star Performer is so paramount to your career. First, you will have a tendency to be more self-confident. I donít recommend arrogant or cocky, just confident. Secondly, your success will breed more success. Good things seem to happen to people who are doing well. Third, winners like to do business with winners. Do you want a mediocre mechanic working on your car?

So how do you become a Star or just do a better job?

  1. Think Small Steps. Try to avoid the misconception that itís going to happen overnight, or worse case by the weekend. Thatís simply a set-up for frustration and disappointment.

  2. Do Research on a Daily Basis. Jump on the Internet or head down to the library to stay abreast of the latest happenings in your business. 15-20 minutes daily will keep you better informed and sounding smarter than most of your fellow workers.

  3. Ask Management How You Can Be More Valuable. First, they will be very impressed you took that step. Second, you will be spending more time on work that helps the company achieve their goals, not on work that helps you achieve your goals. Believe me, doing that will pay off huge!

  4. Ask For Assignments No One Else Wants. Your fellow employees will love you for it and The Boss will notice, too.

  5. Present Management With a Plan to Improve Problem Areas. We all know what doesnít work well, but very few actually present a written 1-2 page plan suggesting ways to solve the problems.

  6. Offer to Assist Fellow Employees on Their Projects. I recommend you help them after-hours. Be selective, so you donít get too distracted from your own work.

  7. Add Items to Your "To Do" List. Most people focus on taking items off their list. Star Performers focus on what other things they can do.

  8. Give Others Credit When Things Go Well. Donít overdo this, or it will come off insincere. But at the appropriate time, when the situation calls for it, donít take the credit even if you deserve it.

How will doing these steps help you become a Star Performer? First, by being focused on the process and not the result, you will begin to experience a couple key things. One, the people you work with will start to gravitate towards you. They will want to see you be successful just like you will with them. And, that dynamic produces terrific happenings. Secondly, your confidence level will start to rise. When you are feeling more confident about your work, your "Happy-Meter" will go up, too. Together, itís a winning formula for building a successful career.


Need Help from a Career Coach?
Gordon Miller is a career coach, speaker, and the author of The Career Coach: Winning Strategies for Getting Ahead in Today's Job Market (Doubleday). Gordon is also the author and speaker on the Video, Youíre Hired! 5 New Ways to Get a Great Job in a Down Economy, which can be found at www.group56.com. He can be reached at gordonmiller@group56.com.


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