Holding on to a job once you’ve landed it may not be as easy as it sounds. Beyond performing your job well, you will need to learn to master skills you never really thought about.
Do you know what differentiates the average employee from the one who truly excels at work? Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence: Why It can Matter More Than IQ” has written: “The abilities that set stars apart from average at work cover the emotional intelligence spectrum: self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social effectiveness.”
If you are ready to move beyond average, consider developing your emotional intelligence, as well as your skills. Goleman suggests these are the “human skills” that set you apart as a star performer: “confidence, striving for goals despite setbacks, staying cool under pressure, harmony and collaboration, persuasion and influence.”
These five competencies can help you survive and thrive in your next role, or even in your current position.
Believe in yourself. Starting a new job with unfamiliar surroundings, customs and people can be unnerving. Don’t let that prevent you from knowing your strengths. Remember: The company selected you out of many candidates. Be confident – not cocky – in what you know and what you can do. When in doubt, tap people inside and outside the company, and ask for advice and recommendations. Don’t make excuses for not knowing the answer, and by all means, don’t criticize yourself if you don’t immediately understand something. Confidence can be faked until you really feel like you own it. Stand and sit tall. Look people in the eye. And speak with a strong voice.
Don’t let adversity stand in the way. When faced with new challenges and setbacks, you have two choices: Give in, or dig in. Remember: There was a reason why the company established goals or you created personal goals. Persevere, and find the workaround. Look for new ways to solve the problem, and consider enlisting help from others. Convert your problem into a question, and listen to the responses you get without judgment or criticism. When you stay committed and driven to achieve your goals, both you and others will know you’re giving your best shot.
Stay cool as a cucumber. When deadlines loom or crises occur, how will you respond? Stressful scenarios are inevitable in today’s workplace, and coping requires calm and calculated thinking. Give yourself some time to respond calmly by stepping away from the situation. Surround yourself with positive influences – people who have learned how to look cool under pressure. Emulate their behavior, and ask for feedback.
Work in harmony. Teamwork and collaboration are the norm in the workplace – there’s no working around it. But with teamwork come differing agendas. The best time to address collaborative expectations is early in the process. Get everyone on the same page, and hold them accountable for acceptable group performance. This means communicating openly, establishing trust and being accountable for work assigned to you. You may not be the leader of the group, but you can certainly do your part to ensure your relationships with team members are mutually beneficial.
Master persuasion and influence. Every idea you have and every change you want to make requires you to communicate and sell your plan to others. Persuasion and influence happen best when you understand the motivation, preferences, needs, goals and desires of those you are trying to sway. Rather than push your idea or leverage logic to build the case, start instead by addressing how your idea helps the issues being faced by those you are selling it to. Use sensitivity and awareness of their feelings to win over your teammates. Using this lens helps your audience understand how your idea will benefit them.
Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored “Social Networking for Business Success,” and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.