Job Success: Increase Your Job Success

Lesson 1: Increase Your Job Success

Increase your job success

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to...

  • Follow steps to increase satisfaction and success in the workplace
  • Recognize the better employee

10 ways to succeed in the workplace

Once you've found a job, you'll want to do everything possible to be successful at it. While a number of factors can affect whether you'll be successful, you can increase your chances by following these basic steps.

Watch the video below to learn some tips for pursuing job success.

1. Do your job.

To ensure you're doing your job, make sure you fully understand all of the duties assigned to you. When you begin your job, your employer should provide you with a list of job duties and on-the-job training. Ask questions, and find the most efficient ways to perform your job. When you make a mistake, learn from it rather than repeat it. Refer to your list of job duties from time to time to stay focused. If you take pride in what you do, you'll make yourself—and your employer—happy.

2. Follow the rules

Take the time to read and understand your employer's policies and procedures manual. It's your duty to learn and follow your employer's rules and regulations. Refer to it when you have questions. If you can't find an answer, ask your supervisor. You'll decrease your chances of careless mistakes.

3. Be courteous.

A self-confident attitude, smile, and friendly word go a long way toward establishing strong working relationships with your supervisor, coworkers, and customers. Make an effort to be friendly, but realize that you are there to work and not to socialize. A sense of humor is usually appreciated, but always maintain a professional attitude.

4. Be a team player.

In a team atmosphere, be an active listener. Your supervisor and coworkers will feel you value their opinion. However, don't be afraid to share your knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm. Employers want employees who take initiative, follow instructions, respond well to constructive criticism, and cooperate. Make it a point to attend meetings and company-sponsored social events.

5. Find a mentor.

Find an experienced coworker to serve as your mentor. Mentors help nurture your career—they may act as your sounding boards, offer advice, make suggestions, and increase your access to senior management. To find a mentor, first identify your weak areas. Then identify individuals who are strong in these areas, those whose careers you admire, and those who have access to senior management. Begin by being friendly, ask for advice from time to time, and slowly build your relationship. If you have difficulty finding a mentor, consider joining a professional organization.

6. Fit in with the organization's culture.

Before you can fit in with the culture of an organization, you must define it. To do so, watch and listen to those around you. You'll quickly get a sense of company expectations for dress, socializing, work expectations, workspace tidiness, and other issues. Also, consider referring to your employee manual.

7. Find ways to be a star employee.

Fitting in with the culture of an organization doesn't mean you should be content with doing the bare minimum. Find ways to take on additional responsibility. For example, volunteer to be a committee leader, take additional training, master new technology, work late when necessary, and develop a reputation for excellent customer service.

8. Conquer negativity.

If you dislike your job duties, supervisor, commute, compensation, or benefits, you are to some degree unhappy in your current job. Negative feelings toward your job can sabotage your chances of workplace success and can lead to general unhappiness. To combat negativity, focus on what you enjoy about your job. Do your best to avoid office politics and gossip. Chances are you'll feel worse, not better, after ranting about your boss. Also, never criticize your employer in public—it's considered unprofessional, and you never know who may be listening.

9. Take control.

If you are extremely unhappy in your current job, make a list of your job's pros and cons. Then seek ways to make improvements. If you have a long list of cons, it may be time to look for a new job. However, never quit a job until you have a new one. Our Work & Career tutorials provide several useful tools and resources to help you find the career that's right for you.

10. Find a work-life balance.

Work is important; it gives a sense of pride and purpose, helps establish an identity, and provides family support. However, work shouldn't be the only aspect of your life. When you're not at the office, seek other ways to add enrichment to your life.

Who is the more successful employee?

After reading about steps you can take to increase your chances of workplace success, determine who is the more successful employee.


  • Works for a mid-sized corporation as a departmental secretary to five team members and a departmental supervisor
  • Types 65 words per minute
  • Has excellent computer skills
  • Rarely asks anyone for help
  • Is prompt and efficient on the telephone
  • Is occasionally abrupt and rude when taking messages
  • Has several complaints in her file from coworkers and customers
  • Is rarely friendly
  • Complains frequently about her job
  • Is reluctant to learn new skills


  • Works at a university as administrative support for a team of five and a departmental supervisor
  • Types 35 words per minute
  • Has basic computer skills
  • Was out of the workforce for a short time due to an injury
  • Has been retrained in administrative skills
  • Has no prior experience in the field
  • Has a complimentary letter in his file after one month on the job
  • Has made some mistakes
  • Is friendly
  • Shows a willingness and enthusiasm to learn new skills and is showing improvement


  • There are positive and negative aspects to both of these employees. In your opinion, who is the better employee? Why? Give specific reasons for your choice.
  • Let's imagine that Mary and Brian are interviewing for a position as an executive secretary at a large corporation. Who would get the job? Why?

The employer's choice

A coffee mug that reads "Number one employee"

There are many employers who would want to work with Brian. He is pleasant, trustworthy, has a lot of enthusiasm, and is showing improvement. He is also adaptable and eager to learn.

There are also employers who would choose to hire Mary due to her consistent job history and strong typing and administrative skills. On the other hand, her negative attitude may affect her ability to keep her job. She already has a few letters of complaint in her file. She should change the way she interacts with coworkers if she wants to keep her job and increase her own job satisfaction.

Employers want to work with people who are...

  • Skilled
  • Highly motivated and able to adapt to the work environment
  • Able to work with different types of people
  • Enthusiastic
  • Friendly
  • Honest
  • Not afraid to ask questions
  • Bright, alert, and active

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