What is the difference between a mediocre employee and an all-star? It is really very simple. It starts with showing up and ends with active engagement and enthusiasm. First, you have to show up. Surprisingly, many people don’t see absenteeism as an issue. You want to get noticed? Start acting like you care and, I mean, really care, not just superficially but extensively. You need to be visible, attentive, and genuinely interested. I often try to encourage staff to have more actual interest in their job by talking to them about the industry and issues; attempting to generate interest and a broader understanding. The benefits of this approach are more important than just increasing engagement. It also can lead to developing sharper cognitive skills and deeper, more meaningful interest in various aspects of life, even beyond the job.
While some employees are taking initiative and naturally seeking out information, others are comfortable continuing to function with a surprising amount of apathy. Those who continue to remain mediocre often seem completely disinterested in anything other than their next paycheck. The apathetic employees may function acceptably in their role, but the lack of enthusiasm is noticed and often derails further career opportunities. With the speed of change and ongoing evolution of our world, more interest and concern would be a boon to employer and employee alike.
Believe it or not, one of the ways to ensure that you are thoroughly engaged and interested on the job is also remembering to take time off. It’s important to take the time to leave work in order to refresh and be fully engaged when the work day calls. Expanding interests in other things provide a more enriching life experience and overall happiness, which extends into attitude at work. Enjoying a fullness of life may actually increase our ability to be interested and engaged at work. With our connected world, it is so difficult to truly take a mental and emotional break. We don’t even recognize how little time there is for thinking when racing through the day with cell phones ringing and pinging. It is endemic in many organizations that the time for concentrated thinking is lost. Slow deliberation is not often accommodated in the fast-paced world we live in. Balance and perspective may be lost when we are responsive to unending work expectations. Perhaps it is the overwhelming that leads to the apathetic.
The message is two-fold. When you are at work, it’s important to be available, show interest, and take initiative. Indicate to others that you care about the job, the organization, and the opportunities provided. Express gratitude as if the job could disappear overnight because, for some people, it has. When not working, be sure to find fun and pursue passions. Enjoy the people you encounter and the activities you engage in. Prepare your personal life for retirement just as methodically as you prepare your finances and when you finally leave that job, it can be with a sense of satisfaction. Both employer and employee should be grateful that their paths have crossed when the fork in the road finally leads to separate destinations.