Leading the Pack at the Water Cooler

Pioneering through the HR news for the week ending April 12, 2013.

Ahead of the Past

We all dream of second chances—the opportunity to travel back in time armed with the knowledge we have now and the will to do things differently. This is especially relevant when it comes to our careers. An article in Forbes this week reflected on such a sentiment, offering advice to the twenty-somethings in today’s workplace.

Find a trusty mentor within your organization, the author advises, who can keep you on track at work in spite of the many distractions that will come your way. Young employees ought not to wait for an important title to exhibit leadership in the workplace. Take responsibility for your blunders, for example, rather than passing blame on to others. You will be seen as mature for owning your mistakes.

Death to the Blame Game

Here’s a serious side effect of blaming other people for your mistakes: it prevents learning. A second Forbes article from this week tells us that you have a better chance of retaining a lesson when you accept responsibility for what you’ve done wrong. Failing to do so, the author contends, weakens our self-esteem, since it's inherently dishonest and can run the risk of ruining relationships.

The act of casting blame upon others is a distinct step backwards—and your coworkers will soon catch on, particularly if they're the ones getting hung out to dry. The perception of you around the workplace is just as important as your actual productivity, and can have a direct impact on your future at the company.

The Power of Positive

So you’d like a bright future? Lighten up! One of the best ways to be seen as a leader at work is to be perceived by colleagues as an optimist. TLNT offers tips for avoiding negativity and embracing the positive.

Particularly for young employees who are adjusting to new corporate environments, the temptation to lament about the less-than perfect aspects of the job is common. It allows them to feel as though they are regaining control, and yet it's a habit that can quickly spiral out of control. Recognizing the things that are going well, and accentuating them, will command more respect from coworkers and leave more room for you to be productive and develop valuable skills.

Loving It

Remember that every day is a new opportunity to evolve as an employee. This week Inc. taught us to take full advantage of even the mundane, seemingly unimpressive days at work.

Lots of leaders respond to crises with efficiency and grace, to be sure. The true test, however, is how leaders handle routine days, particularly those that come with a ton of “little things” to do. Many leaders fail to recognize the opportunity to teach their team lessons on the slow days, as they are instead distracted by the anticipation of the next great work-related catastrophe.

So look alive, readers! Gain respect from your colleagues by appreciating each day for the learning and teaching opportunity that it is.

Want to pick up an HR tip or two? Register for free email updates or take a look at last week’s HR Water Cooler.

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