At Work


20 good work habits to develop

Congratulations! Youíve got a job. The new environment may be a little overwhelming at the beginning, but it is important to start right so you can establish a satisfying career with the company.

Here are the basic skills all newcomers need to have on any job, and qualities which the company will be looking for during your performance evaluation:

1) Punctual. Be punctual for work. Even better, be early. Start the day feeling relaxed and settled.

2) Initiative. Take the initiative to get things done, even if that means you have to fill up the kettle and boil the water ó just do it.

3) Neat, tidy and clean. Make sure your desk or workstation is neat, clean and pleasant. Clear perishable rubbish immediately and wash your mug at the end of the workday. The same attitude applies to the general office area and restrooms ó use them considerately for others to enjoy as well.

4) Organised. The best indicator is to see if your tray, desk, drawers and cabinets are cluttered and messy or well-labelled and orderly.

5) Systematic. A good system smoothens work processes. Generally, established companies have a standard operating procedure (SOP) manual as a guideline. If all you have are verbal instructions, develop your own checklist of how a task should be done.

6) Efficient. Some people are naturally efficient. You can develop this skill by thinking things through. By doing so, you will know how processes can be done in a faster, smarter and more convenient way.

7) Problem solving. Understand what you are doing and improvise on existing work processes. Give feedback, ideas and suggestions to colleagues and clients to help them come up with solutions.

8) Follow-up. This does not mean chasing people after a dayís notice. Give them a gentle reminder after a space of three days. Most people understand urgency and will help you expedite matters if you underline the importance of the deadline.

Always exercise diligence in matters of finance and when forwarding documents to a third party. Have a tracking system on your calendar.

9) Fast. Learn to work fast on routine jobs. But this does not mean rushing to get things done.

10) Accuracy. Learn to pay attention to details especially if you are dealing with numbers and dates.

11) Fewer mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, but you should aim to make fewer mistakes on routine jobs. Always be mindful that some mistakes come with a cost.

12) Paperwork. Be good in your paperwork. Clear paperwork as soon as possible and keep all your files updated so that you have important details at your fingertips.

13) Interpersonal. Be friendly, pleasant and have a positive attitude towards your colleagues and your boss. Donít show your temper, keep a long face or be sarcastic as it is totally unacceptable.

Maintain a pleasant and upbeat telephone-voice when you make or take calls as this reflects the image of the company.

14) Teamwork. Be a team player. Be willing to share ideas, work experience, information, templates and so on, so other colleagues wonít have to re-invent the wheel. This is how you build trust with each other.

15) Office etiquette. Donít spend too much time on personal calls, e-mails, text messages or tea breaks. Respect othersí personal space and desk. Avoid using office paper and stationery for personal reasons.

16) Writing. Work on your letter writing and report writing skills. The only way to do this is to write more.

17) Reading. Equally important is the ability to read, comprehend and grasp the essentials ó concepts, facts, figures and instructions.

18) Priority. Know what is important and what can be shelved. Stay focused, keep to your deadlines, plan your work for the day and the week and allow some flexibility for last-minute projects.

19) Filing. This is important as you may need to retrieve documents or answer questions by your superiors immediately, and they cannot be kept waiting. This applies to both physical files in the cabinet as well as files on your computer.

20) Responsibility. Know your level of responsibility with the company and take ownership for your job scope and inventory.

The sooner you acquire or boost these skills, the faster you will shine in your new job and impress the people you work with. - Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Bernadette Jesu, who works as a consultant with a management consultancy services firm.

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