Most people believe they are a “good employee.”
What does this really mean? They start on time, do what the boss asks, and feel comfortable exactly where they are.
Not everyone is driven to climb the corporate ladder. Or takes great pride in sharing their new promotion on social media. Some workers are fine being mediocre. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Problems arise when employees believe they deserve more despite doing the bare minimum. Putting your coat on at 4:59 PM isn’t going to impress your supervisor. If you pretend to enjoy the job and withdraw from meetings, chances are, you won’t be getting a raise anytime soon.
Above all that, there is one specific sign that you are a mediocre, or worse, disposable, employee.
Can you be relied upon as a leader?
The answer to this question will reveal everything about how you are perceived by your company. When projects need to get done on a deadline, do they turn to you? If a new employee is brought onto your team, do they ask you to mentor them?
Leadership doesn’t mean status. And it doesn’t have to be taking on massive tasks, working until 2 AM. I’ve seen an intern attack a project with more excitement, vigor, and responsibility than a CMO.
A leader is nothing more than someone who sees how things can be improved, willing themselves and their team to move forward for the better.
Leadership is consistent. Leaders put people first. They are empathetic. They connect people instead of starting drama or displaying a poor attitude. You want to work with someone who has the courage to make mistakes and will admit when they are wrong.
As author Brene Brown put it, “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
Every company has different measures for leadership success. But no one would argue against the value of displaying leadership qualities.
Like Lisa Biglow of the Houston Chronicle said, “When an employee shows good character, it reflects well on the company and builds trust.” That is essential. Mediocre employees don’t reflect well on the company. Leaders do by unifying teams with action and attitude. Biglow continued, “When you wake up in the morning and know that she’s done a good job in the past and is going to do a good job today, it’s valuable.”
Whether it be with energy, creative ideas, or problem-solving, companies want people who improve their culture and bottom-line. When we opened up new positions at my last job, conversations always started with how an individual could grow into the organization. Sure, experience and punctuality were part of it. But we really wanted to know if the interviewee would be reliable. If they were someone who would stay a little late to finish a project or willingly learn a new skill for the benefit of the team.
Sometimes mediocrity isn’t apparent. You may want to be a leader, but don’t know where to start. The solution is to request direct feedback from a superior.
Solving problems with honest communication
If you feel like you are starting to get stuck or fall out of favor at a job, don’t be afraid to ask a supervisor for guidance. No one can improve without feedback.
Don’t just wait for your ninety day review either. Take the initiative and have a human conversation.
It’s important to ask at the appropriate time and place. Set up a calendar invite and preface the conversation with some background. You want your manager to put thought into this and come prepared.
Be very specific on requesting a few areas for improvement, and make sure to follow up directly after to document them.
Obviously, requesting constructive feedback is only step one. To truly shine, you need to implement it.
Gabriel Shaoolian, a CEO for over 20 years, said in a Fast Company post that too many times employees will receive feedback, and then she never hears from them again. Shaoolian recommends making feedback a regular process to continue improving and evolving as an employee.
Right now, many companies are dealing with limited budgets, revenue loss, and an unpredictable future. They need diverse leaders from every level to contribute. While it may feel like a difficult time to ask for feedback, it’s actually more important than ever.
Organizations are evaluating their needs. They are looking at the individuals who kept them afloat and running through the good times and the bad. Making a genuine effort to improve and become a better leader will prove that you are one of the irreplacables. Someone who clocks in with a purpose and clocks out when the work is done.
Check your ego and really think about where you stand with your company.
Work on being a leader by making yourself and those around you better.
Request a consistent feedback loop. Turn those loops into actions. Repeat the process.
That’s what turns a mediocre employee into a building block for the future.