Saturday, April 6, 2013

7 Habits of Highly Effective Young People (Part 1)

Cover of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effectiv...
Cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Managing Editor, News To Live By

If the title of this column sounds familiar, it should.

The blog post is based on the immensely popular self-help guide 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

The book has sold more than 10 million copies and is regarded as the gold standard for personal and professional leadership development.

While Covey's lessons - like self-improvement, goal-setting and teamwork - apply to people of all ages, young professionals are a special breed, and we deserve a seven-point list all our own.

Like all posts on News To Live By, each of the seven habits will stem from recent headlines.

Today is the first column in a seven-part series called: '7 Habits of Highly Effective Young People.'

1. Know How to be Independent

When you get hired for your first job (and maybe even your second and third), here's what the boss thinks: 'OK, now I have a young person on my staff who will need constant guidance.'

You land the job because you're cheap and willing to put in long hours. You probably don't have the skill-set of someone who's been with the company for 5-10 years. How could you? You're brand new to the scene.

The new guy (or girl) in the office can't expect to be the boss's favorite right away. Still, a recent story from NBC News found that more and more people want to leave their jobs because they're not feeling the love.

You don't form a great reputation by luck or chance. You have to earn it. A proven way to do that is to work independently and not require 24-7 supervision.

Here's what I mean

The boss gives you a tough assignment, and you have absolutely no idea where to start. That leaves you with two choices:
1. Figure it out on your own
2. After five minutes, knock on the boss's door and say 'Can you help me?'

Which path is smarter?

If you picked #2, then you're looking for love in all the wrong places. A boss won't shower you with praise unless you give him a reason. Let's go with #1. Now, you have several options. You could:

1. Do some research online
2. Ask friends on Gchat who may have answers
3. Tap into the knowledge base of your co-workers

The third choice (leverage your office-mates) is a fantastic approach. As a new (or semi-new) employee, it allows you to interact with co-workers on a deeper level, stroke their egos and, above all, leave your boss alone.

As a young employee, the knee-jerk reaction is to panic and run to the person who doled out the work. The savvier move is to pause, take a breath and address the problem tactically.

As you move through the day and put the pieces together, the full-blown crisis often becomes a manageable assignment.

The best part

With the task under control, you can knock on the boss's door, but this time things are different. You have results. You worked independently to solve the problem and can triumphantly tell the manager: look what I did.

Will you have some loose ends and need to ask a few lingering questions? Maybe, but that's no big deal. The bulk of the job is behind you.

Now, the boss begins to see you as someone he can trust and not a child who requires a babysitter. You're in the real world ready to play ball, and you just proved it.

Being independent: That's how to feel the love from an employer. Shatter expectations, and your clout around the office will grow.

Who would want to quit a situation like that?

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