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Learning to Be a More Valuable Employee

Most employees believe they’re paid by the hour. In reality, they’re paid for the value they bring to that hour.

“When the value you bring to an hour at work exceeds your pay for that hour, you become a more valuable employee,” says Dan Clark, a certified speaking professional and member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame in Salt Lake City. “As a result, your job may be more secure, you may have more potential to advance in your career, and you’ll have happier, more fulfilling workdays.”

It doesn’t take a lot of time or preparation to begin. Here are some ways you can be a more valuable employee, starting today.

Get better every day

Before you walk in the door to work, make sure you bring along your talent, knowledge, skills and positive attitude.

“Take personal responsibility for improving your mental and physical skills,” advises Mr. Clark. “Potential is elusive. No one can ever exceed his or her potential; we just misjudge it. The goal, then, is to simply become better today than you were yesterday, progressing every day in the right direction.”

Go above and beyond

It isn’t enough to just get your work done. To be a more valuable employee, you must go above and beyond what’s expected. Arrive a few minutes early every day to demonstrate your dependability. Be the person your boss can count on to consistently get the job done. If a special project requires you to stay late, do it cheerfully.

“Don’t leave problem-solving to your supervisor,” says Mr. Clark. “You’re on the front lines doing the work and, therefore, in the best place to suggest creative ideas for solving problems.”

Dress for success

Your appearance reflects on your company. Always dress in a way that enhances your company’s image and follow its dress code. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the position you’d like to have.

Maintain a positive attitude

Did you ever catch someone else’s yawn? Just like yawns, attitudes are easy to catch, and negative attitudes can spread like wildfire. When you help your coworkers catch your positive, helpful and cheerful attitude, you’re making yourself infinitely more valuable to your company. Simply make a daily effort to express positive attitudes, and your coworkers will soon catch them.

Don’t compete — cooperate

Find a way every day to appreciate your coworkers and your boss for the little things they do to make your workday better. Offer to help your coworkers whenever possible. When you catch your coworkers doing something right, compliment them.

“Be loyal to those who aren’t present,” says Mr. Clark. “Never gossip or put other people down to make yourself feel more important. Don’t criticize others’ mistakes. Instead, help turn them into learning experiences. At work, there are no mistakes, only lessons.”

Develop friendships

Sometimes the friends people have at work are an important reason they stay. Therefore, when you help your coworkers make friends at work, you help improve the environment at your company.

“When you make a daily habit of doing things that make you a more valuable employee, management will notice,” says Mr. Clark. “In addition, your days will become more meaningful as your positive energy spreads through your workplace.”