I receive at least one new business or career book in the mail every week. Don’t get me wrong – I love free stuff – but some of these titles make my head spin. They all think they have the latest formula for business world success – be provocative, get rid of meetings, work two hours a day and go surfing, quit your job and start your own business, embrace your individuality and if your boss doesn’t like it…tough.
There’s no getting around the fact that Corporate America has changed a great deal in the last two years. Companies have been stripped down and are struggling to rebuild themselves. Millions are still unemployed. And personally, I don’t think any sexy new formula is going to ensure success in this environment. Instead, we need to listen to the minds whose lessons have withstood the test of time, authors like Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, and Tom Peters who remind us that traditional values like courtesy, hard work, and trust will serve us well in any type of workplace, at any time.
It’s quite simple, really. Treat your co-workers as you would like to be treated. Help them out without being asked. If you say you’re going to do something, follow through without having to be prodded. If you make a mistake, admit and fix instead of trying to blame someone else or cover it up.
Instead of just doing your job and moving on, take that extra step to make sure it’s standout work. Volunteer for a project that no one else wants to take on. Be the person your boss depends on, and the person other departments call when they need something from your group.
Take advantage of the fact that you work in the same space as actual human beings, and don’t rely on e-mail or instant message to communicate with them. Invite your co-workers to lunch and ask about their families and what they do outside business hours. Remember their birthdays, maybe even make a habit of popping a handwritten card in interoffice mail.
You don’t need a $20 business book. Just think about it a little bit. You’ll know what to do.