Do you have the kind of job where you’re in full view of the boss or other co-workers from the time you arrive until you leave at the end of the day? If so, you’re probably having your time at work scrutinized pretty thoroughly. Management has a pretty good or excellent idea who pulls their weight and who isn’t performing as well as they should.
However in many workplaces, individual workers are often working out of earshot and out of eyesight of their Supervisors and Managers. If you work in this kind of environment, you’re trusted to be actively engaged in whatever it is you get paid to do; you’re expected to be productive and accountable.
When there are files waiting on your desk to be examined, actioned and passed on it’s easy to see at a glance who has cleared their desk and who has work piling up. If you’re on the road traveling from one location to another, someone presumably could track where you’ve been and how long it takes you to get to your next appointment, the mileage you’re claiming to have driven etc. Some workplaces have security cameras which not only protect the premises but can inform management of the work habits of their workforce.
If you have the kind of job where others rely on you to do your bit and pass on items so that others can do theirs, your productivity can be measured if others have to wait for you on a regular basis or not. Ah but what about the many people who work behind closed doors or in relative isolation? What about those who are largely working independently and don’t produce goods that can be graded for quality?
We shouldn’t be surprised to find there are some – perhaps many – people who drift from time-to-time; who play the odd game of Solitaire or Minesweeper. Maybe it’s not as obvious either; maybe you’ve got someone in your office that routinely walks around and seems to always be socializing. You know, they walk around three or four times a day up and down the corridor chit-chatting, and you suddenly wonder to yourself, “Don’t you have any work to do?”
We’re all built different though aren’t we? When the workload is heavy we all tend to get at; bear down and roll up our sleeves and put in a solid effort. Well, most of us. However, when the workload is lighter you can spot the workers who look for additional work to be done and those who don’t.
Walk into a mall when customer traffic is relatively light for example and if you’re observant you’ll see what I’m referring to in the work ethic of staff in the stores. Some will stand in clusters chatting amongst themselves as if there is nothing to do until customers come in. Others will re-fold clothing, dust shelves, take products and become familiar with what they do, how they work or the guarantee that accompanies them. This product knowledge makes them a better salesperson.
Employers are impressed with staff who take the initiative to better inform themselves on their products and services. They like staff who look for work to be done whether it’s cleaning or ensuring the merchandise is attractively displayed and accessible to potential buyers. Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour can’t always be taught. Oh I agree people can be told or shown what to do when it isn’t busy but to actually take the initiative to do it when you’re not being watched? There are many who only perform when they are seen; who reckon, “What’s the point? No one is going to notice.”
There’s always work to be done; be it big or little. Here’s something to ponder…if there isn’t any work to be done, why are they paying you? To get ahead and distinguish yourself from other workers and just possible angle for a future promotion, you’d be wise to be on the lookout for the little things you can do that improve the experience of those around you.
Work in a restaurant? Polish the cutlery, fill the salt and pepper shakers, read the specials menu so you remember what to promote. Work in a customer service role where the public stands before you? Check the stapler so it doesn’t ever run out, fill the paperclip holder, make sure you’ve got the hand sanitizer bottle at the ready and full. Small stuff that on the whole might just go unnoticed until somebody asks why you’re filling up the stapler because it never seems to run out – only to be told by you, “That’s because I check it a few times each day.” Hmm…
Look ahead at the calendar and see what you’ve got coming up in the next month or two. What can you do now in some down time that will make that busy time just a little less hectic? If you have the time and you are permitted, can you help someone else out in your workplace and in so doing essentially make a deposit in the bank of goodwill so that they might return the favour down the road. Just make sure you do your own work completely before leaving it to assist others.
The best employees always look for things to do and stay busy, justifying their employment and getting themselves noticed in the process.