It’s my basic business philosophy that the people who work for my company aren’t my employees—they’re my colleagues. We’re in the day-to-day of this crazy, awesome (very often nerve-wracking) thing together, so I always remind them that they don’t work for me, they work with me, end of story. I do, however, have rules for how I like to run the SMAC ship, which are straightforward and pretty much non-negotiable. And I know from experience that the advice works, so I share it with everyone from my co-workers, to the people I mentor, to my industry peers. Below are my rules for how to be effective at your job:
Pay attention to detail. Ask anyone who works with me, and they’ll tell you that I say this all of the time: Attention to detail is key, no matter what you do. Even if you’re at an entry-level position, do your job with pride because once you get to the top of that canyon without that base, the canyon will crumble. So, if you’re not satisfied with something, do it again.
Ask questions. This one is simple: If you don’t know the answer, reach out to someone who does. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and gather information. This also applies to asking yourself a few key Q’s, like “How am I helping to achieve my company’s goals?” and “Am I working as effectively as I can be?” Lastly, don’t shy away from gathering constructive feedback: Periodically reaching out to your superiors to find out if there are areas of your job where you can improve not only shows initiative, it demonstrates a willingness and openness to grow.
Clean up after yourself. Everyone, including me, can learn from their mistakes. So, when you mess up (and you will), first admit it, then own it, and, in my house, we will do our best to fix thing together. No one is an island; most likely you didn’t get backed into that corner on your own. And even if you’ve only got yourself to blame, chances are your boss wants to know as soon as possible to help guide you in the most strategic way possible to fix what’s broken.
Don’t cut corners. Michael and I wholeheartedly believe that hard work does really pay off. So when it comes to meeting (and exceeding) what’s expected of you at work, taking short cuts is just not an option. I think so many of us are always trying to multitask (which is proven to actually reduce productivity) or bursting to get onto the next task that we miss key elements in the process (like an unsent email or unreturned phone call). The net-net is don’t try to cut corners because it will always backfire on you.
Push through the politics. I would say that my number-one rule is about respect: Never forget where you came from and where you started, and treat everyone with respect. But, as much as I hate to admit it, office politics occasionally do creep in. At SMAC, I think we’re lucky enough that we don’t experience too much of it. When we do, we try to take it head on and not let things fester. I have an open-door policy with every, single employee because I’m consistently trying to do better and be better—at the end of the day, since I run the company I have to own the challenges in the workplace because everything starts at the top.