Jodi Glickman is the author of “Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say it” and she offers readers a step by step guide to success by saying the right things. Glickman offers scripts for getting things done at work, asking for help and managing priorities. They’re good scripts; as a manager, I can vouch for her expertise in guiding workers toward more successful outcomes. Here’s her formula for success when you’re new on the job.
Her strategy consists of five skills; together, they spell LEARN.
First, L is for LEARNing new skills continuously. If you’re not developing new skills on the job, you’ll start to stagnate. Even if you’re good at what you do, you’ll be assigned to the same repetitive tasks forever. We know from experience during this recession that generalists survived longer than specialists. They simply had more options for making a contribution to the company, and they had positioned themselves as willing to learn and grow to make the team stronger.
E is for EXCEL. If you know you’re good at something, Glickman says, you should take every opportunity to offer your expertise to the team. This is especially true if you’re good at something people don’t like to do. Offering to proof a large and complex document or to organize an event is a way to make friends among your team members or develop a great reputation with people you don’t know well.
A is for ASSIST. Helping out team members before being asked is a sure way to make friends and create good career karma. Offer to help with a last minute assignment or a project that seems to be overwhelming someone else. At the very least, Glickman suggests, could you run and get coffee or dinner for them if they have to work late? Imagine your delight if someone helped you when you needed it most, with no expectation of return. You can take the initiative to pay it forward.
When offering to assist, Glickman stresses that you must be specific in your offer. Simply asking what you can do to help can actually backfire. Sometimes, managers or team members won’t have time to assess your skill level and make a thoughtful assignment. In that scenario, you’re just adding to their workload. Try this instead: “Jennifer, would it be helpful if I followed up with the customer to see if they’ve set a date for the meeting?”
R is for REDIRECT. Saying “no Thanks” to an assignment, especially when you’re new on the job, is an advanced skill – don’t try this at home. But Glickman makes the point that you should try to ask for assignments or tasks that expand your skills – or risk being stuck in a repetitive or entry level rut.
Here are some of the scripts she suggests to redirect work. “I’ve been reviewing my workload from the past few weeks, and I’ve been doing a lot of X. I’d like to take on some Y or Z, if that’s OK with you.” Or this: “I’ve done over 15 X over the past few months, and I think I’ve got that skill down pat. I’ve been working on learning the Y, and would like to help out on the next Y project, if that seems to work for you.”
N is for NETWORK. Ask for assignments with people who have influence in the company or have something to teach you. Sample scripts: “I’d really like to work with Jim or Mary on creating a marketing plan; let me know the next time they need some help with a project.” “Beverly – if you need some help next time on putting together a proposal, I’d be happy to help out.”
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” Jonathan Winters