I got my first job at 14.  I’ve had about 50 jobs since.  I got fired a few times.  Each experience taught me valuable lessons and skills.  At heart, I am still that trouble-making, fence-testing employee.  Much of my business advice comes from that perspective.  Most of the time I give advice to the boss.  However, today, dear employee, I’m talking to you.

How to get what you want from your job and your boss. 

  • DO find out what it takes to get fired.  Don’t ask your boss.  Ask other team members.  Then, choose your battles.
  • DON’T play a small game.  Want to show up late?  OK.  But that means the conversation will never be on anything but that.  Want to wear a grey t-shirt instead of a white one.  Then that’s the game.  If your employer is committed to his or her standards, you will get fired.  If not, you win.  It’s a small victory.
  • DON’T use a personal challenge as a reason to do poorly at work.  A fight with your fiancé?  It happens.  Shake it off before you go to work.  What good does it do to let the negative energy domino drop your career?  Go for a run.  Scream underwater.  Write it out in your journal.  Do yoga.  Do whatever.  Then, bring your best self to work.  A good day can spill over into your home life.  You are either spiraling up or down based on your thoughts and choices.
  • DO write stuff down.  Keep a Master To Do list.  Write down job details, procedures, brief notes about what you did each day.  Jot down things you are grateful for and insights gained.  Write down your hours and earned bonuses.  The bookkeeper can make a mistake and you are well served to have your backup data.
  • DO take advantage of offered training.  Learn what you can keep forever.  Offer to train, too.  If you are getting paid to train, this is the best benefit you can find.
  • DO embrace sales.  What you might not like about sales – being pushy, lying, talking a lot – are not part of a good sales process.  Find an opportunity to try out a sales position, or at least attend sales training.  If you are willing to, you can become successful at sales.  That opens up more career opportunities in any field than any other skill.
  • DON’T ask for an advance on your paycheck.
  • DO put a personal budget together.  Live on 70% of what you take home, after taxes.  Save for the future, pay down debt and contribute to good causes with the rest.
  • DO leave if you hate your job or you have reached the end of your career arc.  Give two weeks notice and accept it if you are asked to leave earlier.
  • DON’T just leave your keys on the boss’ desk and disappear.
  • DO report any illegal activities, discrimination, abuse or harassment to the proper authorities.
  • DO cut your boss some slack.  Start with the assumption that he or she is doing the best they can.  Sometimes, it’s just a rough day.
  • DO give your boss props on a job well done or a good decision made.
  • DON’T whine about anything.  When I was a waitress, I never talked about getting a bad tip.  It happened.  I just never mentioned it.  So, I had the reputation of always getting great tips.  My manager assumed this meant I was a great waitress.  He would put high rollers and VIPs in my section, who were generally great tippers. I was friendly and very generous at tipping my support team of cooks, bartenders and bussers.  I didn’t whine about them either.  So with very little effort, I had fun with great dining clientele, lovely relationships with my co-workers who completely made me look good, and I made big bank every night.  Get the idea?  No whining.
  • DO take the raise and the promotion even if you are not quite sure you are up to the task.  Then, get good.  Figure it out.  We all feel like imposters at some point in our career.

Even if this isn’t your dream job, don’t give up on your dreams.  DO what you can do in every moment to get what you really really really want.  It’s important to ask and answer that question, “What do I really want?”  Then, ask your boss, “What do you really want?  What are your goals?  What metrics are you being held to?  What does success look like for you?  What is a good day?”  If you can craft a plan or energize a project that gets your boss what she wants, and offers you what you want, you are off to the races!

This Zig Ziglar quote is becoming my all time favorite…

“You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”  

xo$, Ellen

PS…Comments?  Challenges?  A different opinion?  I love those!  Let me know what this stirs up for you…