• March 2015

What Does It Take to Be Amazing at Work?

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author of
The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR

I think most people really want to be the best they can be at work — if not amazing, then at least really good at whatever they have chosen to do.

This is why I chose being in the world of HR. I love it!

But what I don’t love — and don’t quite understand — is how even people who don’t put forth an outstanding effort somehow expect to receive an outstanding performance appraisal. They seem to feel they deserve the highest rating all the time, regardless of their actual performance.

Wanting to be amazing — and actually being amazing — are two different things. Being amazing takes effort. And probably a bit of good fortune.

So if you want to be truly amazing at your job, here are some ideas that will help you stand out at work.

  • Do what you love. Remember when a parent or a mentor told you that you should work at something you love because it won’t seem like work? They were right! I love the work I do and am passionate about how the work I do impacts others. I love that I and other HR professionals do work that touches people’s lives. Being passionate about what you do encourages you to want to excel at it and be amazing.
  • Have a strong work ethic. In today’s highly competitive world, a strong work ethic is more important than ever. In my first job out of college, I lived in Chicago. One morning I woke to a huge snowstorm, but it never occurred to me not to go to work. I took the bus to the subway and got to the office. Turns out I was the only person who showed up that day, but my commitment to my job did not go unnoticed. I got recognition from the organization, and people took an interest in my career to the extent that I was given amazing opportunities to learn and grow — opportunities I don’t think I would have had without showing that commitment to my job.
  • Find a mentor or coach. The right mentor or coach can help you through the tough times or to point you in the right direction. Most people think the mentor has to come to them and offer to be a mentor. In reality, the best way to get a mentor is to ask someone you respect. I think it is a great idea to select mentors outside your department or discipline. For example, I once met someone who had risen to a very high-level position at a major university. She said she always selected mentors from other departments so that she learned from them and they got to see how amazing she was.

We need more amazing people at work!

We need people with passion for what they do. We need people who have a strong work ethic. We need people who will take risks and who know how to tackle the tough issues facing organizations today.

What will you do today to be amazing? Send me an email with your ideas.


About Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and has consulted for organizations around the world.

She has served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and at several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding The Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Her books include The Essential HR Handbook and The Big Book of HR.

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