5 Keys to Being a Successful Employee

Success loves speed. Catapult your career. Learn the “Other” Education. I’ve said all these things before, but how do you actually act on it? That’s a question I often get. I have talked with thousands of students about how they can use their part-time job today to learn and develop the skills they need to be amazing in their career tomorrow.

I’ll cut to the chase. Here are five areas you should focus on, with a real action item for each. Pick one, start growing.


Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. Without it, it dies. You have to learn to be a better communicator. What can you do? Develop the habit of communicating with your boss as early and as soon as possible. If you know you need a day off, bring it up. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask for clarification. If you need help, ask for it. If you have a suggestion for how something could work better, offer it! Communicate. Never be afraid to ask a question, voice a concern, or request help. Good communicators are trusted much more.


You have to be trusted. Trust levels are constantly being assessed in relationships. When your supervisor asks you to do something, they evaluate their trust in you based on if you fulfill the assignment. If you do it, that level of trust stays the same. If you do it well, that level increases. If you fall short, then that level goes down. Here’s the action: do what you say you’re going to do. If you get asked to reorganize the stock room, do it – and do it well! You will always have parts of your job that you don’t like so that excuse doesn’t work.


You won’t truly be able to build trust unless you are accountable. You have to own up to what you do, both the good and the bad. Your future employer wants you to own it when you make a mistake. If you mess up, own it. Don’t dance around it. The action I want you to take is not just to admit when you make a mistake, but to always try to make it right. Don’t just admit fault, work to make it right! If you miss an assignment because you forgot, start doing it! Get it done! Be someone who doesn’t just leave problems for other people to solve.


Average employees do what is expected of them when it is expected of them. Stick to that model if you want to do the bare minimum. However, extraordinary students and leaders are proactive. They do things ahead of time, often without being asked. Proactive people communicate things ahead of time, they plan ahead and are organized, and they always are looking for the next thing they can help with.


I’ve supervised hundreds of students. The useful ones always go further. What I mean by useful is someone who fills in the gaps.  When someone is useful they do what is expected of them and then look to help others. It isn’t about just doing the minimum, it is about helping the team. Next time you finish your assignment at work or at school, look to see if someone else needs help. Don’t do it just to be seen so it “looks good”, do it so you can be useful.

5 keys to your success. Start taking action.

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