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How to Succeed with Integrity in a Competitive Workplace

How to Succeed with Integrity in a Competitive Workplace

When you work in a competitive environment, you’re going to have to leap over more than a few hurdles. You may have to deal with arrogant bosses, employee politics, rampant discrimination, and cruel intimidation in order to survive a potentially hostile workplace. But don’t worry—you can rise above it all. Separate yourself from the negativity and preserve your integrity by investing in your own success above all else.

1. Strive for excellence.

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.”

—Napoleon Bonaparte

Take care to act upon your ambition, and let your principles be your guide. Do not just talk about what you are going to do. (In fact, avoid needless conversations with others about your career goals altogether.) The people you work with will twist your words around, especially if you cannot deliver on your promises. So make promises to yourself—and then keep them. Your actions will speak volumes to those around you. Once you’ve shown your co-workers what you can do, they will respect you for your ability to show up for the tasks at hand.

Learn from your mistakes. Should you make an error, do not allow yourself to get dragged down to the level of obnoxious co-workers. Ignore their comments about your mistakes, and learn from the errors you make. Any mistake can be converted into a learning experience if you take the time to explore what happened. And if others make mistakes, be sure to give them the space to learn as well. It’s not worth your energy to taunt them about their own errors—as an ambitious person, you simply don’t have time for that.

Put forth the effort on every project, aim for what you believe is right, and be proud of what you do. Your passion and persistence will move you up the ranks in a competitive workplace, especially if you perform with integrity and tact. You define the measurement of your own success: the only person you have to please is yourself.

2. Build and rebuild your reputation.

“Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.”

—Helen Gahagan Douglas

It is up to you to begin forging strong bonds with your impressions among your co-workers. If you are starting a new job, then it is pretty easy. Simply present yourself in the best light from day one. If you hit the ground running, your reputation among your colleagues will grow naturally.

But what if you’ve been working with a corporation for many years? Well, it may be time to rebuild your reputation. Let go of pride for a spell, and find what needs within the company you can fulfill with your skill set. If you continue to cultivate these strengths, your co-workers will certainly appreciate exactly what value you bring to the company. From there, you can start to build other skills that will further raise your profile within the corporation—and that is something you can be proud of.

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Your reputation among your colleagues will grow with each of your successes. Your employer will trust you with more responsibilities. Others will look to you for advice on the way up: feel free to give it. Remind them, however, that there is no better teacher than learning from your mistakes.

If you take the time to cultivate your character on the path to success, you will inevitably preserve your reputation in the process.

3. Roll with the punches.

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

—Edna St. Vincent Millay

Practice successful recoveries. Every time you make a mistake, look for the opportunity to learn.

Oftentimes in the workplace, an error could cost you: perhaps you will be demoted (or worse, fired.) In these cases, be sure to mourn your losses. Blow off a little steam, talk to a confidant or mentor, or take a well-deserved vacation. Set a time limit on your period of grief, however. Once you have allowed the moment to pass, roll with the punches.

You will be glad for the break. It will allow you to take an objective look at what happened, how you can regroup, and how you can avoid making the same mistake twice. If you have to look for a new job, don’t be afraid. Just put your best foot forward and rely upon those skills you’ve been cultivating. Champion your successes to the world and you’ll advance your career.

If you are returning to the same workplace after a hiatus, you’ll be ready to face everyone you work with. Your co-workers and employers will be impressed by your ability to rebound, and they will respect you all the more. Also, they will recognize that you are a human just like them. More often than not, they’re going to be delighted to have you back.

Find strength in your mistakes, and bounce back twice as high.

4. Respect others’ differences.

“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species. Where in is the cause for anger, envy or discrimination?”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Nowadays, you can find many diverse cultures and beliefs in the workplace. Many times the manifestation of these differences can be a beautiful, natural part of belonging to an organization. In other times, the closed-minded natures of some co-workers can be difficult to navigate. Be sure to practice openness to what others believe, and do not seek to impress your own beliefs on your colleagues.

Let it be said: there are monsters in the workplace: misogynists, bigots, racists, narcissists, sociopaths, autocrats, and other types of ignorant miscreants. This is just a fact of life: people are the way they are. People of this ilk are not easily avoided in the workplace, so you must learn to let them be. Free yourself of whatever negativity they may conjure up within you, and focus merely on the work at hand. Let your successes tell your story, and remind yourself that a nasty person is often simply jealous of your ability to thrive.

Politics tell a similar story, but can be harder to deal with. Try to be happy for those who are celebrated for their worth. Sometimes, however, the office jerk gets to move up the ranks—don’t let it get you down. You will have your day. What’s more, since you measure yourself by your own achievements, you can be proud of what you do. Keep on rising above the mundane, and your co-workers will continue to want to see you grow. And don’t get involved in gossip—you are better than that.

Lead by example when it comes to politics. Diversity is meant to be celebrated in the workplace.

5. Foster healthy relationships.

“When we dislike someone, or feel threatened by someone, the natural tendency is to focus on something we dislike about the person, something that irritates us. Unfortunately, when we do this—instead of seeing the deeper beauty of the person and giving them energy—we take energy away and actually do them harm. All they know is that they suddenly feel less beautiful and less confident, and it is because we sapped their energy.”

—James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Learn to work around those who are difficult, and praise those who you enjoy working with. It’s a healthy habit to look for the good in people: we’re not all that different after all. Everyone wants things to go smoothly in the workplace, so keep that in mind when the going gets tough.

For whatever reason, you may find that one or more of your colleagues do not like you. Don’t pander to them. You don’t have to please the people you work with, you just have to perform your job well. You may discover that there are like-minded individuals in your workplace: cultivate your working relationships with these people instead of squandering your focus on “how things should be.” By aligning yourself with the right kind of workers, you will be able to do more with your time and energy.

The higher-ups will undoubtedly appreciate your ability to work well with others and when it comes time to promote you, they will sing your praises as well.

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6. Go with the flow, and then go against it.

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

—Nelson Mandela

Always get a sense of the room when starting out. Your co-workers may be invested in their own projects, which is good—let them be. At other times, you may find your colleagues would rather laze away the day, or fester in foul moods. In these moments, break away from the bad habits and forge your own path.

In a project-oriented environment, always seek to discover the best way to further the task at hand. Are you the best suited individual for it? Maybe you need to ask for a little help on this one. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses! This is a prime example where going with the flow will help you: allow everyone the opportunity to meet the needs of the company so that the overall project doesn’t suffer. Support those who want a little more responsibility too. Sometimes you have to let go of your ego so that the collective can thrive.

There will be moments when you know you have the right idea, though, and it seems like no one is listening. These are the times when you must take the bull by the horns. You will have to be assertive: share your groundbreaking ideas with the project manager or the entire team in the proper moment. This could mean having a pow-wow with her in her office, or it could mean that you should bring up your idea in a meeting. Whatever the case, gauge the public response to your suggestion beforehand and employ tact in the way you present it.

It’s important to know when to follow the flow, and when it’s right to break tradition.

7. Compete with class.

“He who angers you conquers you.”

—Sister Elizabeth Kenny

Competition is a good thing, and you should learn to love it. This doesn’t mean always winning, this means always doing your best.

When you compete with others in the workplace, think about that reputation you’ve been building. Others may want to put you down, to see you fail. Let them participate in a challenge how they want to, but if they play rough, you don’t necessarily have to play along. Think about how you will go about competing and what it will mean for your growth in the long run.

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Sometimes your co-workers (or your boss) will try to intimidate you. I’ve heard many stories about employers or colleagues who utilize horrible tactics to get what they want. Some of your co-workers might not want you to get the raise you deserve, so they’ll spread lies about you. A manager might threaten to suspend or fire you if you don’t agree to work grueling hours. Or maybe your team wants you to take the fall for a failed project. Don’t crumple under the pressure.

The answer, as always, is to rise above their intimidation. Let the facts of your work speak for themselves. If you have to, confront the person who is trying to intimidate you, and do it in private if you can. Perhaps you will have to do what is being asked of you, but at least you have made your stance known. And you can always voice your opinion through the proper channels. Never forget that you also have legal rights as an employee—if anyone ever harasses you thereby compromising your ability to work, don’t be afraid to blow the whistle on them if necessary.

Remember that you are an asset to your company, so maintain your integrity and you will triumph.

8. Make a lifestyle, not a living.

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

—Marilyn Monroe

Life is about your journey in the world, and your career is just a slice of your experience. There are so many wonderful places to visit, events to enjoy, and people to meet. Your career is not the end-all be-all of your existence!

Therefore, set aside plenty of time outside of work to cultivate yourself. For example, you could start up a new hobby, watch indy movies, go out on dates, take trips, meet up with like-minded groups of people, grow your investments, and participate in the gazillion sorts of activities in your community—and around the world!

A life spent in service to a corporation will provide you with a regular salary and plenty of work experience. Beyond that, there is very little that a long career will bring you in your twilight years. Strive to develop a balance between your career and your life outside of work.

Your extra-curricular experiences will make you more cultured and happy, and the competitive environment you work in won’t seem so difficult to navigate. Your passion for life will shine both in your work community and outside of it. And you will be pleased with your successes because you didn’t pander to the competition—you rose above it all.

Featured photo credit: taylorward89/Photopin via flickr.com

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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