When you work as part of a team, there are people who count on you every day for your expertise, yes, but also for your value as a dependable and positive team player. Here are a few ways to become a resilient and VITAL employee at your organization – whether you are there as a full time, part time, or seasonal employee – and whether you’ve been there days, months, or years.
1. Contribute to local and company wide results:
An average employee completes just the work set out for them in their job description. A resilient and VITAL employee makes themselves a participant and contributor to results on a larger scale: The researcher and workplace psychologist Cy Wakeman says that the Vital Employee “Keeps a beginner’s mindset” by continually asking “what more can I learn here?” and they never think that they have nothing left to learn or refine. They actively reach out and work with other people and departments in the organization to meet their results.
The mindset of a Vital Employee is “We, not me”. Perhaps another way to think of it is that a Vital Employee shows an active interest in learning what they can do to participate in moving the company forward and meeting its goals. They raise their hand to participate in opportunities to cross-train in different areas, and are first to ask “what can I do?” or “how can I help?”
2. Be a team builder and part of the company culture:
Be respectful of your colleagues – Build them up to succeed, don’t blame others or put down others. Be a positive contributor to morale. (that is not done by creating a common enemy within the company).
Have the mindset that everyone is doing the best they can in the moment – Take the viewpoint that the process broke down, not the person. Don’t believe those thoughts of “they set out to let me down or make me look bad”. Cy Wakeman, gave a wonderful talk on “The Cost Of Drama In The Workplace”. You can watch that video here. Wakeman says, “Don’t believe everything you think. The worst thing you can do is make up a story, believe it, and stress over it. Stop judging, and start helping”.
When things don’t go according to plan – Ask “how can I help turn things around” instead of placing blame or becoming defensive. It can be helpful to think “what information am I missing that could lead me to have a better understanding of how this situation came to be?”. We rarely have all the information required to paint the full picture – don’t assume your Ego’s version of events is the only version.
Be trustworthy – We often spend more time in a day with colleagues than we do with family: if a colleague confides something personal to you, keep it to yourself. Things said in a moment of venting are rarely the full story, and repeating them to others can create consequences no one expected or intended.
3. Be easy to manage:
Be punctual and have good attendance – so your manager and team mates can rely on you. Listen and take constructive criticism in a non defensive and open manner.
Be open to feedback and coaching – “Your Ego Finds Insult Where There Isn’t Any” People don’t always have the perfect words to tell you things you don’t want to hear – try thinking of it this way: people don’t generally relish the idea of telling someone they’re doing something incorrectly: try to imagine that they feel just as awkward about it as you do, but that they genuinely want to see you succeed and are giving you the information you need to accomplish company goals in the most efficient way possible.
Respond to communication promptly – Acknowledge emails, pickup the phone, and reply to missed calls right away.
Embrace company policies and action items – If you don’t agree with something, have a one on one conversation and be prepared to calmly discuss your concerns and have ideas to contribute to a solution. A Vital Employee comes to the table to discuss concerns with ideas and suggestions for improving things – not resistance.
Embrace change – Another great philosophy from Cy Wakeman is that “Change is only difficult for the Unready”, meaning that embracing small changes as they come up, instead of resisting them all along, is far healthier and effective for the team and organization as a whole, than being forced into huge and difficult change when there is no longer any more option for you to stall. If you’re feeling resistant to changes being asked of you, remind yourself that “Our circumstances aren’t the reasons you can’t succeed. They are the reality in which you must succeed.”. Having buy-in to company goals and processes isn’t optional – So when you find yourself going to your manager to give feedback, ask yourself “Is the feedback you’re giving focused on “Why we can’t” or “how we could”?” This is the first and most important step on the path to becoming the Resilient and VITAL Employee that we all wish to be.