Forget finding a job you love, instead…
Make people love you. At work. Seriously. In a totally platonic, appropriate, work friendly kind of way.
Love @ work? That sounds ridiculous. Except when we account for the fact that over half of U.S. adults are perennially in search of a new, or better job. Even more of us (over 60%) are disengaged at work. It makes sense, then, to covet that perfect job— the Holy Grail, that one role that will bring us happiness, fulfillment, contribution and riches, all in one.
But we’re barking up the wrong tree. How do we actually find that perfect job? Better yet, how do those awesome opportunities find their way into our laps? It’s when we become the person that our boss, or client, or board of directors, loves.
Not “likes”, mind you, but “loves.”
This isn’t a thumbs-up or thumbs-down kind of thing. Like is about being nice. Like only gets you so far.
But love—love is about trust, respect and admiration. It’s about being willing to go through the wall for someone—put in the long hours, go above and beyond, give it everything you’ve got, and then some. When you make your boss, your client or your colleagues, love you—that’s when things really start to happen.
If I love you— I will do anything (and everything) in my power to help you succeed. I will mentor you, sponsor you, champion your cause; pay you well, give you a raise, hand you a promotion. I’ll make introductions on your behalf, round up when you screw up, and most importantly, reward you for your great work, for being the person that I love.
So how do you become that person?
The way you make me love you @ work is by incorporating four key themes—Generosity, Initiative, Forward Momentum and Transparency, or GIFT, into your daily life. These aren’t concepts you need to study, or skills you need to acquire—they are four basic concepts you simply need to put into practice, everyday.
Generosity is at the core of being loved. Walking in everyday and sharing your time, your energy, your expertise. Sharing credit broadly, sharing your network readily—asking yourself this one essential question:
“How can I make my boss’ (or team's) life better or easier?”
Stop for a moment and think about the guy at work who makes your life better or easier right now. What would you do without him? Wouldn’t you do anything to keep him happy, engaged, challenged?
What about brands and companies that have built their reputations on generosity? Nordstrom’s customer service is legendary. Zappos prides itself on marathon customer service calls. Adam Grant redefined the world by dividing us into givers and takers. The takers inevitably crash and burn. Be a giver—it builds culture, improves teams and makes good business sense.
Don’t wait for someone to ask for it. Just do it. We all understand this concept intuitively. You would not be reading this post or going through my new course on LinkedIn on how to Make ‘Em Love You at work, if you weren’t the type of person to take action, to be proactive, to continually think about what comes next. In the context of your own career, this means raising your hand, asking for stretch assignments, making opportunities happen for you, not to you. In the context of serving others, it means thinking two steps ahead so your boss doesn’t have to. The answer to “will you please…” is “I’m already on it.”
Forward Momentum and Initiative go hand in hand. It’s about moving the ball forward. Not resting on your laurels—taking the ball and running with it. When you hand in that marketing blurb or finish a big project—your boss inevitably thanks you, maybe celebrates a small victory, and then in a flash, she’s on to what’s next. She doesn’t have the luxury of staying in the moment; she’s always focused on the future. You should be too.
Transparency is the last piece and it's at the heart of accountability and ownership. You can get through any problem at work by owning it, by taking responsibility.
If you haven’t done so already, you will screw up at some point. You will drop the ball, miss a deadline, send out the wrong document, or worse. You’ll overcommit and under deliver. When that happens, acknowledge your mistake, take responsibility for it, and then go fix it, ASAP. Denial and blame won’t get you out of trouble, transparency will.
As you search for that next job or opportunity, that perfect new role, stop and reframe the conversation in your head. Think about making me love you instead of finding a job you love.
Will you really be able to take on that next challenge or opportunity without Generosity, Initiative, Forward Momentum or Transparency? Without GIFT, will that opportunity even come your way?