You succeed when you help others succeed (and here’s how)
If you Google “advice for starting a new job,” you’ll find tips for making a good first impression, defining ‘success,’ or asking for feedback to improve.
All of which are great suggestions! But when I started my first 9–5 after college, my dad gave me a piece of counterintuitive advice that trumped everything I’d read on BuzzFeed.
I was joining a marketing agency to work for two account managers. On my first day, my dad said: “Remember, your job is to make their job easier.”
Honestly, it felt a little anticlimactic. Not exactly words of wisdom for standing out or moving up quickly.
But it was easy to remember, and it gave me purpose. I took it to heart and tackled every assignment with the goal of making my supervisors’ lives easier, and I developed a reputation as a team player.
Here’s the thing: Unless you’re at the top, you’re always working for someone or something. And if your goal is to make that person’s life easier in some way, you’ll be a valuable asset.
Your Job is to Make Their’s Easier
The opportunities begin to jump out at you. I had a radar for comments like, “I wish I had time for…” and “I can’t get this done…”
Making someone’s job easier is about (1) saving time, or (2) saving energy.
I’d ask myself the following questions:
- What tasks have been put off because they’re too time-consuming?
- What tasks can’t she get to because she’s in meetings all day?
- What tasks does she dread?
This is not necessarily about taking on someone else’s work. It’s about implementing solutions and strategies to benefit everyone.
For example, documentation. Could you document a process to help the team complete a project faster? Could you summarize what needs to be done to help your supervisor delegate a task?
Could you templatize something that’s done repetitively? Think email communication, what types of messages do you send over and over again?
One of the most important aspects of my job was communicating with our clients. Sometimes we were so consumed with a project that we’d forget to update the client or keep them in the loop.
One of our clients flooded us with questions throughout the week, and it became a time suck for my supervisor.
So I created an email template for a weekly “recap” to send out on Fridays, keeping the client informed of our progress. And it worked — after a few weeks, the client knew to expect the Friday recap and didn’t reach out as much throughout the week.
Even better, it took the burden off of my supervisor. The template lived in our task management system, so anyone could step in to take care of it.
Why This is Good Advice
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
You’re not going to get anywhere if you’re focused on yourself, and what others can do for you. When you’re the new guy, it’s tempting to spend your days listing ways to impress your boss or take on more responsibility. But these goals are unquantifiable.
You have no control over what others think of you, or whether you’re given a promotion.
Instead, focus on adding value. This is solid advice for all areas of life. Even if you work for yourself, it’s all about the value you can provide to your clients or your audience. And it’s especially true in the workplace.
What can you do to build up your coworkers, or add value to the company?
With the mindset of adding value and making someone’s job easier, there are no questions or doubts about what you need to do. Consequently, one of the best ways to get noticed is by taking action — without needing to be told. Heard the phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats”?
Trust me when I say that others will notice if you help them succeed or stand out.
What’s the Value to You?
It’s not about you. That’s the point, right? But there’s a reason this was such valuable advice, and it’s because it helped me become a better employee. These are the results:
You develop strong relationships
You’re a team player; you’ve earned the trust and loyalty of your coworkers, clients, and boss. When you help others succeed, they want to work with you. This is how you grow your network and develop lasting professional relationships.
You become a better problem solver
When you’re focused on making others’ jobs easier, you train yourself to identify inefficiencies and to come up with creative solutions. You have a sharp eye for improving daily processes and procedures.
You’re given more responsibility
People who take the initiative are given more responsibility. When your boss trusts you to take on more, you’re leveling up.
Your job is to make their job easier. This mindset — adding value — gives you purpose at work.
Goals like impressing your boss or earning a promotion are difficult to measure. But at the end of each day, you can ask yourself, “What did I do today to make [his or her] job a little easier? And what can I do tomorrow?”
I promise you’ll find more satisfaction and fulfillment in this than if you’re focused on personal success. But the bonus is that your selfless, team-player mentality will help you stand out positively.