We all want to get our careers off to a great start. We all want to be noticed for the right things. But sometimes, as a young professional, it’s hard to get eyes on our good work and ears on our good ideas. In other words, it’s hard to make a positive impact.
So we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What is your best advice for young professionals who wish to make a positive impact in the workplace?
We think you’ll find their answers intriguing and insightful!
1. Present Ideas Backed by Research
As a young professional, it’s important to earn respect for your ideas by backing them up with research. When you notice problems or opportunities for improvement, don’t just blurt them out. Study other companies to learn what solutions have worked best for them. If possible, find data and examples that support your points. Act as though YOU are the one on whose back the success of the company rests.
2. Network Through Social Media
If you are part of a large organization, figure out where your fellow employees are hanging out, such as on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, and join the community. If the organization isn’t large, then create a community for other employees and start promoting it to others. Share articles and videos that you think can impact the culture and tag others to get them to notice.
3. Demonstrate Initiative
Showing an eagerness to learn can go a long way when trying to make an impact as a young professional. An employee that shows initiative and willingness to do more than is required will be noticed far quicker than an employee who does the bare minimum. Also, don’t be scared to show off your creative side. All companies are looking for new, innovative ways of doing things.
4. Be Authentic
Everyone wants to work where the company culture is genuine and real, so being honest is a really good place to start. Nobody likes fake enthusiasm or the guy who speaks up in a meeting just because he wants to be heard. Give authentic suggestions on how you want the company to operate. Lead by example by staying true to the same values that you’d like to see be valued by the organization.
5. Talk Less, Listen More
When you first try to prove yourself in front of your colleagues, your intuition might tell you to become a dominant speaker in order to demonstrate your leadership skills. However, in order to get other colleagues speaking, you need to listen thoroughly. This will demonstrate respect for your team members and they will respect you in return. This strategy is vital to establish yourself as a leader.
6. Read “The Happiness Advantage”
Author Shawn Achor wrote a seminal book on workplace happiness and culture called The Happiness Advantage. According to Achor, happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement. Therefore, if you want to have a positive impact on your culture and be more successful, you need to emulate happiness and positivity on a consistent basis. Be the example and you’ll have a profound influence.
7. Remember, Culture Comes From the Bottom Up
Culture in an organization comes from the bottom up, not the top down. All young professionals have the opportunity to influence the culture in their workplace because they’re engaging and face-timing with the majority of the company on a daily basis. They should feel empowered to make such an impact because it will later take them to a leadership position.
8. Connect With Your Colleagues
The primary way that a young professional can impact culture is to connect with those they work with. Influence is critical in leadership. In order to influence others, you must connect with them. Look for opportunities to connect and grow your professional relationships. Connecting occurs when you find common ground and then support those around you to achieve the organization’s goals.
9. Stand Out in a Likable Way
You’re new at a company and you want to hit the ground running, but you need to carve out a role for yourself first. Over deliver on everything from the start, but don’t show anyone up. Support your colleagues and if you see something that can be improved, make suggestions in a positive light. You want to stand out, but if no one likes you, you’ll never move up.
10. Identify Your Company’s Culture
Harvard Business Review has a great piece on building your company’s vision. Surprisingly, most companies don’t have a clear or defined vision. If you can convince your company’s leaders to put together a team to help identify your company’s core ideology and vision for the future, that can have incredible and long-lasting effects on your organization’s culture.
11. Voice Your Opinion
The fact that you aren’t in a leadership position doesn’t mean that you don’t have a voice. As a matter of fact, I think it’s your voice that matters the most. Don’t feel like you need to keep quiet just because you don’t hold a C-level position. If you have an idea of how the company might work better, or how a project can be improved over the current process, voice it!
12. Use the Power of Suggestion
The power of suggestion is incredibly influential and you can use it to get people to buy into a desired culture change. Let others come to the same conclusion on their own and they will believe in it more. Once momentum builds, the change is almost inevitable.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.