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A Better [Professional] You in 2013

Every New Year we make resolutions that we struggle to keep.  Working out more, shopping less, and saving more are some typical list-toppers.  These obvious, and generic resolutions are the easiest ones to break because they’re more like making a promise to yourself than actually making a resolute decision to do something.

It’s time to place the easy-to-break resolutions aside and step into 2013 with attainable goals that will lead to personal satisfaction.  People spend a lot of time at work, so if they’re happy at work, it’s easier to achieve balance.

Below, 10 ways to be a better professional you in 2013:


Anticipate department needs and take initiative. There is always room for improvement, and if you see an opportunity, take the reins and become an active member of your team.  Completing additional tasks on your own shows your initiative and the ability to handle more responsibilities.  You will also be helping your manager by taking a couple of things off of his or her plate.


Get to know your manager. It’s obviously in your best interest to be on good terms with your manager.  We also suggest getting to know him or her personally and professionally.  The more you communicate with your superiors, the more you learn about what makes them tick and how they approach different situations.  Don’t try to be their best friend, but do make an attempt to become more than a body in an office.


Own it. Everything about you, from your facial expression to your posture, is a reflection of your attitude.  Confidence in yourself and your work will have a positive effect on how you are perceived by others.  Trust in your qualifications and recognize that your contributions to the company are significant and essential to the company.


Study your industry. There are new developments almost daily regardless of the industry in which you work.  Make it a part of your job to keep up with what’s happening now via trade magazines and various print and digital sources that pertain to your line of work.  Being well informed places you in the position to participate in worthwhile conversations with your co-workers and managers.


Don’t present a problem without a solution. Identifying a problem is the simple part – coming up with a solution is the challenge.  Without an action plan, you’ve brought light to a new problem and simultaneously created more work for your manager.  Before approaching your superiors with an issue, brainstorm solutions that you can also present at the same time.  The problem-solution method is efficient for everyone and demonstrates your abilities as a problem solver and thought leader.  If all goes well, you will be the first person they come to for future projects.


Find a mentor. To have someone at work whom you can go to for advice, help, and guidance is priceless. A mentor is a valuable asset whom you can trust to help you navigate your way through your professional life.  This could be someone whose career path you see yourself following or someone who possesses similar qualities and professional values to you.


Improve your communication skills. If you think your manager can read your mind – you’re wrong.  Unfortunately, both managers and employees are guilty of this mistake.  As an employee, conquer your fear of confrontation and focus on getting your ideas across and issues heard in a professional manner that will ensure your voice is heard and you will naturally become a better employee.


Take control of your schedule. A full work week is typically 40 hours.  If you can complete all of your work within those hours, more power to you!  However, many employees only do what they can and leave tasks partially finished with the comfort that they can always finish it tomorrow or next week.  If this sounds familiar, you’re not setting yourself up for success, you’re maintaining, and maintaining will get you nowhere.  Investing a few more hours when necessary to complete a project or to get a head start on the next assignment will invoke feelings of confidence in your work and give you a sense of accomplishment.

On the flip side, don’t go too far and spend too much time at work.  If you are unable to complete everything in a reasonable amount of time even with your extended schedule, it may be time to slow down and remove some things from your plate.  Set realistic goals and you will be kicking your New Year off to a good start.


Brand yourself appropriately. If you have any social networking accounts online, whether they are private or not, assume your current or future employer will be researching you.  Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter are the most popular social sharing sites and that’s exactly where they will start looking.  The combined posts from all of these sites equate to your brand – created by you.  Ensure your brand is sending an appropriate message by screening your posts, images and tags.


Invest in your future. The decision to pursue an MBA is game-changing.  Most companies encourage employees to continue their education and will even pay for the costs or a good percentage of the costs.  Your new skills can be applied to your current role and demonstrate your abilities to upper management.  Take advantage of this employee perk that will help you succeed now and later in future roles.