Business

What Does It Take to Get Ahead in the Workplace?

 

black business men

(Photo Credit: My Fredo)

With the competition in today’s workplace growing more fierce than ever, employees need to take advantage of every opportunity they have to get ahead in their jobs. Whether it’s gaining additional education, taking on leadership roles for company projects, or going above and beyond the call of duty when providing customer service, it often takes all this and more to secure that promotion and raise you’ve always wanted. If you’re ready to take your place among the elite within your company, here are some proven ways you’ll be able to get ahead at your company.

Always Find Something to Do

For many workers who complete their tasks and have some downtime, they can’t wait to pull out their smartphone or take a break at the water cooler. However, if you want to get ahead, always be the person who finds something to do. Whether it’s simply cleaning your work area or completing some additional training, chances are your supervisor will notice your productive efforts.

Earn Additional Education

If you’re looking to move into a management position, you’ll probably not only need on-the-job experience but some additional education as well. For example, if you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, consider pursuing a master’s degree to help you stay ahead of your competitors. By doing so, you’ll be demonstrating initiative and a desire to improve yourself, something that will not go unnoticed by your supervisor.

Create Positive Relationships

From the top executives in your company to the custodian who cleans your office, develop positive relationships with everyone. By doing so, you’ll be able to establish a reputation as a friendly person who knows how to work well with people of various backgrounds, which is necessary for promotion.

Become a Leader

When an important project comes up, don’t be afraid to ask for a leadership role. If you can become the go-to person who can solve a crisis, you’ll be demonstrating skills that will serve you well as a manager or executive. By speaking up during meetings and presenting ideas that prove to be useful and result in success, those in charge of promotions will surely think of you the next time there’s an opening.

Show Up for Work

While this sounds simple enough, plenty of employees gain reputations for being “sick” far more often than other workers. Therefore, if you want to get ahead at your company, show up for work as often as possible. If you do, your supervisor will look at you as a reliable person, making you a go-to person time and time again.

Learn from the Top Employees

In any company, some employees seem to be able to do their jobs in an almost perfect manner. If you’re smart, you’ll connect with these people and learn the secrets to their success. By being around these people as much as possible, asking questions of them, and watching what they do and how they do it, you’ll learn skills that will put you in the fast lane to promotion. If possible, ask one of them to be your mentor. Mentorship is crucial to experiencing the highest level of success possible.

By keeping these tips in mind and implementing them, you can put yourself on a great career path. From gaining a mentor to always showing up to work when possible, your supervisor will undoubtedly realize you’re the perfect choice for a promotion.

Resources Consulted:

Heading Back to College

Importance of Being On Time

Building Great Work Relationships

WGU Master of Business Administration

Ways to Stay Busy on a Slow Work Day

Becoming a Leader at Work

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Be Honest with Potential Employers to Manage Skeletons in Your Closet

Business Hand Shakes

(Photo Credit: Buzzle)

These days there’s too much competition for jobs to leave anything to chance.  You must make every effort to present yourself as responsible, professional and capable.  A background blemish like a poor driving record could force a potential employer to disregard your application, or to select another candidate, especially for a position that requires you to spend time behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Remember your driving lessons?  Or maybe you don’t, which is part of the problem.  Well, those instructions about defensive driving and avoiding moving violations were taught for a reason.  Those classes are intended to keep you and other motorists safe.

If you’re working a job with company safe-driving policies, any hint of irresponsible driving could make you an outsider.  Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this:

Understand your background check

Many companies will search criminal records and civil traffic records as part of a routine investigation before they hire you.  Criminal charges for reckless or impaired driving will obviously raise questions. Jobs that stress safe driving could raise issues with a history of multiple violations in a short period of time, however.

The Society for Human Resource Management notes many companies have a standard for “unacceptable” driving histories, which tends to include a suspended or revoked license, or “three or more moving violations in the past 36 months.”

You can get ahead of that by searching public records laws in the states where you live to gain a sense of the information available to employers and the general public.  You can also check with your local Department of Labor to see what information a potential employer can search.  These steps won’t erase a criminal charge or civil citation, but at least you’ll be prepared.

Some employers simply want to see if you’re honest.  U.S. News careers editor Jada A. Graves cites a 2013 study that showed 52% of employers said “they’d be more inclined to hire a candidate who disclosed a conviction before a background check revealed one.”

Learn the rules of the road

Scofflaws and routine traffic offenders do not inspire confidence in potential employers—not when they have a stack of applications from people with clean records.

Perhaps it’s time to do a little due diligence and let your next boss know you care.  Making mistakes in your youth is especially common.  In the U.S., where motor vehicle crashes is a leading cause of death among teens, plenty of entry level workers have repeat traffic violations on their records.  Sites like Driving-Tests.org provide free and interactive tests to understand traffic safety standards in greater depth to prepare drivers for DMV tests.

If you’re seeking a new job, try to view yourself through the eyes of your potential employer.  Show potential employers you have a grasp of your past and what you aim to do to be a more responsible person in the future.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

What Makes an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur

How do you know if you’re fit to become an entrepreneur? Do you see sparks of creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility and leadership in yourself? More importantly, do others see those things inside of you? Those are some of the common qualities seen in the best entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Insights

Successful business people who started as entrepreneurs arrive at their aha moment at various moments in their career. Some are young, others are older, and they differ in income levels, gender, race and many more facets. Entrepreneurs may have different levels of education and business experience. Having self-confidence, determination, leadership and passion can make all the difference in a startup.

Maybe you’ve been working in business for a while and are feeling ready to branch out on your own. You’ve got a few teammates to join you, the work space is available and the team already has a few clients eager to see work. What’s next?

Get Mobile

You might consider equipping your team with synched mobile devices for contact, coordination and collaboration. An increasing number of great things are being written about the new cell phones from BlackBerry. The company’s Q10 and Z10 models offer NFC purchasing compatibility, thanks to an agreement with Visa earlier in the year. Plus, the two models offer tailored keypad options for users. The Q10 offers the traditional exterior keypad for heavy typers and texters, while the Z10 model’s keypad is built into the software.

Recognizing Inner Talent

Some of the world’s most effective entrepreneurs may not have recognized the traits that would hold them in good stead later. At the early stage of a new business, entrepreneurs need to wear many hats, including chief organizer, top producer, best salesperson and most excellent marketer.

Experts have studied what separates entrepreneurs from common working professionals.  The following is a glimpse of their findings.

  • Self-confidence: This characteristic of business and life isn’t just something that comes naturally. It’s a by-product of thorough planning, which experts say reduces risk and uncertainty for decision-making. Having great knowledge or zeal for a topic also helps to increase self-confidence for entrepreneurs.
  • Passion: This quality called passion is what spurs everyone forward toward a common goal. Can a team grab hold of an entrepreneur’s excitement and find the ability to follow its path and vision? Great passion helps a team get focused and stay there.
  • Great instincts: Entrepreneurial leaders all seem to possess great instincts. Using common sense, matching it with knowledge and passion, and experience gained along the way via school, friendships and work stints can all help build great instincts.
  • Leadership: Hundreds of books have been written about leadership over the years. Resolving an exact definition of leadership for entrepreneurs isn’t easy. Forbes tries to offer a strong definition, but this definition may not satisfy all entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to make rules, stick to them, and follow through to reach goals. That’s leadership.
  • Determination: Achieving success comes naturally to many entrepreneurs. What gives them the drive to succeed is determination. Combining persistence, vision, money and determination ultimately leads to success.

Every entrepreneur has one or more of these qualities; he or she uses them in different degrees to achieve diverse goals.  In America, we must do what it takes to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Winning Habits for Success: Be a Better Leader

Success

As a leader, you have the opportunity and control to set the tone and direction for your whole organization, so you want to create a productive working environment and have happy employees.  To become an influential executive leader, such as Mark Weinberger, CEO of Ernst & Young, take note of the tips offered in this piece.

Shared Standards & Responsibility

The days of Mr. Scrooge counting his gold in the corner and doling out horrendous tasks to overworked paupers shouldn’t be real life.  Successful business leaders hold themselves to the same standards they hold everyone else.  When their team suffers from a mishap, a good leader takes the fall.  When the team achieves a triumph, a good leader makes certain his team receives credit for the positive outcome, which can be motivational as well.  Forbes calls this an inverted “blame-to-credit ratio.”  A supervisor who takes credit for the good and then points fingers during the bad is “simply being a weenie.”  A true leader stands tall during success and failure; it’s part of the job to take responsibility says Forbes.com contributor Josh Linkner.

Positive Attitude & Environment

Complaining or barking to employees lowers morale and leads to defensiveness.  To achieve goals and accomplish tasks, managers need to positively cultivate talent and support employees. Good energies and attitudes in a workplace can make the difference.  Also, developing a personal, yet professional, relationship with your team can foster mutual respect.  With mutual respect, a manager and employee can work effectively in tandem and continue to develop a relationship free of negative emotions and toxicity that can alter productivity, efficiency and creativity.  Working well together and learning something new from one another is the true definition of a team.  “The team is always stronger than the individual,” argues Executive Mark Weinberger on WashingtonPost.com.

Power of Accountability

As a leader, your behavior should set the standard for the behavior of those around you.  Think of your actions and attitude like swimming in a fishbowl—they’re transparent for all to see and mimic, as described by YoungEntrepreneur.com.  When a problem arises, take accountability for it.  If something stressful overwhelms you, your response will determine the standard for how the rest of the team also responds and cooperates.  People who don’t act accountable for the weight of their actions can set the stage for performers never living up to their potential.

Empathy & Consistency

Being able to finesse the waters of the work world includes empathy.  As a leader, one of your most important tasks is to deliver results.  Expressing empathy with your team helps ameliorate productivity and produce results because your employees feel valued.  Along with empathy, stay consistent with how you approach and respond to your team.  Managers who unexpectedly and hastily attack employees verbally or through email, for example, can cause employees to feel emotionally jarred.  Just like a positive attitude, empathy and understanding engender a productive environment where employees don’t feel restricted because they work in fear or anxiety.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Women and Business Challenges

Women in Leadership

You can launch 1,000 clichés about women in business, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re hardwired to be caretakers. Does that mean they cannot be great leaders? Of course not! Women have to properly navigate the fine line between mothering and smothering. There’s mothering: teaching skills, setting up the company for success, being tough when it’s necessary. Then, there’s smothering: doing it all yourself, wrapping everyone else in proverbial bubble-wrap and taking all the stress and all the consequences upon yourself.

You don’t want to devolve into a caveman, using brute force and intimidation, but you also cannot be soft as a marshmallow. If you’re a successful and benevolent leader, when you do exercise tough love, it will be all the more powerful and effective.

Contractors

It’s probably in your nature to hear problems or excuses and respond with soothing encouragement. If you’re working with a contractor, don’t fall prey to this instinct. Enter into projects with clear expectations and deadlines. Hold service providers responsible for their end of the bargain. Never (okay, almost never) pay in full up front. If you have an issue with the work, document it in writing. If construction or contractor services go wrong, even just off-schedule, it can cost your business time, energy, stress and money. Unless you’ve thoroughly documented everything, it will be hard to seek damages or any other sort of reparation. When it comes to contractors assume the worst — that if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile — so you can achieve the best possible outcome.

Business Partners

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with service providers and business partners, especially if you have a significant amount of purchasing power. Keeping good records, making concise requests and paying your bills on time (or early) will keep you in their good graces. By being a good customer, you’ll earn the credibility to ask for a rush shipment or special favors from time to time. If something isn’t as promised, give them the chance to correct it. If it’s a one-shot deal, like a rush printing job for a major meeting, tell your provider that it’s a high-stakes job. Give the provider an opportunity to wow you. If you’re using a Plum Card from American Express to pay vendors, you’ll have the added benefit of purchase protection, just like a personal card, which can take a big load off your plate.

Customers

It’s a catchy saying: “The customer is always right.” It’s less catchy to say, “Most customers are right, but some customers are users and not worth having at all.” The latter, however, is closer to the truth. In every industry there will be customers who take you for granted. They’ll want to take advantage of a tiny misprint in an ad or return an item that’s been used until it’s nearly unrecognizable. Customers that are leeches are generally not worth having, but it’ll be up to you (the leader) to identify and deal with them. Asking your entry or lower level associates to do so could end in disaster.  

Employees

No great leader I can think of wakes up saying, “Wow, if I can scream at someone it would really make today fantastic.” Likewise, no employee walks into work thinking, “Gee, getting a verbal lashing today would really improve my morale.” Identify what is non-negotiable in your office and have clear job descriptions. Find areas where there’s a little room for interpretation or flexibility. Be clear with employees on firm and soft rules. When someone transgresses on a hard and fast rule, correct it immediately. If it isn’t addressed quickly, the employee might think it’s not such a big deal and escalate the behavior.

Women should never feel they are any less prepared and suited to be business leaders than men.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Need for a Flat Tax

Uncle Sam

America’s current income tax code is simply unfair.  From the cradle to the grave, the government has its hands in our pockets.  It’s a reality that our extant income tax code punishes wealth: As individuals move up the economic ladder, an increasing percentage of their income government entitles itself to receive.  Dr. Ben Carson recently lectured President Obama about how unfair the tax code is.  He highlighted that the bible explains that God requires everyone to give ten percent of his or her earnings to Him.  As Dr. Carson disclosed, God does not care how little or great one makes—He wants everyone to pay the same percentage of his or her income to Him.  For Dr. Carson, this is the same principle government should embrace.  He attacked the argument that a flat tax would not “punish” the wealthy enough by positing that “it’s not supposed to.”

Although it’s difficult for many to resist trying to take more of rich people’s money, especially for those who are barely making ends meet, there must be an understanding that this type of thinking deincentivizes people from striving to become wealthy.  In the 21st century, we shouldn’t let this type of class warfare continue.  Let people enjoy more of the money they’ve earned.  A poor man has never given someone a job.

When we’re fair to wealthy people, we enable them to create more jobs.  In the struggling Obama economy, Americans need an explosion of job creation.  Replacing the current income tax code with a flat tax would help to spur job creation, ameliorate consumer confidence, and boost personal finance.

If we have a flat tax in place, we will not have to worry so much about individuals finding tax loopholes.

Our tax code must be reformed to make America the most attractive nation to do business.  Individuals are seeking tax shelters and shipping jobs overseas because our tax code is robbing them of their wealth.  If someone is openly going to keep robbing you, you’re not going to sit there and continue to let him or her rob you.  Those aforementioned individuals are protecting themselves from this same victimization.

Do you believe the current income tax code is fair?  Why or why not?  What do you think about replacing the existing tax code with a flat tax?  What are your ideas about reforming the income tax code?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Georgia’s New Cottage Food Regulation: An Interview from the Field

Georgia Cottage Food Law

Revolutionary Paideia had the pleasure of interviewing Santresa Glass, owner of Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC, about Georgia’s new Cottage Food Regulation.  She was asked questions about her small business and how the new Cottage Food Regulation impacts her small business.  Below you will find the details of this interview.

1.      Please describe your small business and what goods and/or services you offer.

Sure, and let me first start by saying thank you for the extension of an opportunity to shed a little more light on small business, specifically in the dessert industry as well as the currently implemented (as of September 2012) Cottage Food Regulation.  I am the owner of Magnolia’s Sweet Haven, LLC, a small, delivery only sweets boutique in Atlanta, GA that encompasses the “farm to batter approach.”  I specialize in individual portioned cheesecakes, chocolate covered strawberries, traditional and wine infused cupcakes as well as dessert tables and candy buffets.  We are committed to environmentally friendly business practices, from our natural brown boxes/packaging that are uncoated with fibers used from the Sustainable Forestry Initiatives lumber to our eco-friendly labels, printer ink, office supplies and more.  Baking “green” affects more than just the cost of our scratch made goods.  Our cupcakes and cheesecakes have a deeper, more defined flavor because of the use of local, fresh, and organic ingredients (when available).  Our vessels and displays on our dessert tables are also purchased locally and offer a variety of recycled and upcyled jars, bottles, cake stands, and the like.

2.      What is your understanding of what the Cottage Food Regulation does?

First, let me give credit to home baker, Sara Rylander, for pioneering and advocating for a Cottage Food Regulation in the state of Georgia.  There IS power in social media.  The Cottage Food Regulation allows for individuals to make baked goods such as cakes, pastries, jams, breads, and other confections (please reference links below for specific goods) inside of their home kitchens.  Upon review of the registration application and passing of a preoperational inspection, individuals will then be licensed for food sales operations only.  There are some variances from county to county in the state of Georgia; however, everyone must submit an application for review as well as pass the inspection of their home kitchen.

3.      What impact, if any, will the Cottage Food Regulation have on your small business?

The Cottage Food Regulation has a profound impact on my small, delivery only sweets boutique.  First, let me start with the bottom line.  Renting commercial kitchen space is expensive overhead, yet necessary for business licensing as well as food and safety hazards for my clients.  I have to continue to rent commercial kitchen space because I sell individual portioned cheesecakes and chocolate covered strawberries; however, one of the benefits of the Cottage Food Regulation is the ability for the home baker to become an entrepreneur or for the individuals that are always preparing the baked goods for family and school functions to become small business owners.  Outgoing funds that were formerly delegated towards rental fees can be dedicated towards the purchase of more ingredients for recipe testing and home kitchen equipment that enhances their baking needs.

4.      What advice can you give to those wishing to start a small business and those who have existing small businesses about becoming successful and staying successful?

Passion and education are essential elements in starting a small business within any respective industry.  Yes, one is to do what he or she loves; however, in wanting the money to follow, hard work, consistency, and growth become necessary.  Being successful is an ultimate goal of small business entrepreneurs.  I have coined an R & B approach to business.  R- Refresh old clients with new and innovative flavors and/or dessert table construction and B- Build relationships with old clients and seek others with new consumers, build your entrepreneurial empire, build up other small business owners with support, and build through the local community by giving back.

Santresa Glass can be found below at the listed social media locations, and be sure to gain more knowledge about Georgia’s new Cottage Food Regulation from the links listed after her social media locations:

www.twitter.com/magsweethaven

www.facebook.com/magnoliassweethaven

www.pamperedsweettooth.com

Resourceful Links on Cottage Food Regulation in Georgia

Georgia’s Pioneer Sara Rylander

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/stay-home-mom-gets-law-changed-start-cake-business/nSGgX/

Sara Rylander’s Story

http://www.change.org/petitions/georgia-state-legislature-enact-a-cottage-food-law-in-the-state-of-georgia

Starting a Cottage Food Business

http://agr.georgia.gov//Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/startingacottagefoodbusinessbrochure.pdf

Rules of Cottage Food Regulations

http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodregulations.pdf

Cottage Food: Frequently Asked Question

http://agr.georgia.gov//Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodsfaq.pdf

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison