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How to achieve star status in the workplace.

How to achieve star status in the workplace

What distinguishes a star worker from the laboratorian who is merely a good employee? Why do some achieve success and recognition while others go unnoticed? Even staff members with similar training, skills, and talent don't all achieve star status. Career strategist and author Adele Scheele, Ph.D., divides employees into two groups: achievers and sustainers.

What characteristics distinguish them? According to Dr. Scheele, achievers make things happen and alert others to their accomplishments. Sustainers also do their work, but wait for a supervisor or manager--someone with power--to recognize their contributions.

Achievers, Scheele says, speak out and do things sustainers refuse to do. When they have done a good job, they say so openly. They compliment their supervisors when appropriate. Achievers cultivate relationships by networking and by participating in activities through their professional associations.

Sustainers see such actions as cheating or playing up to the boss. Achievers, believing that everybody is on the same team, recognize that office politics and personal relationships are essential to career success.

A key factor differentiating achievers from sustainers is their communication style. Sustainers tend to be quiet in the presence of their superiors; like certain students, they don't volunteer, but wait for the right question to be asked. Although sustainers don't want to be overlooked, their silence makes them invisible. They are reluctant to compliment other staff members, to share their knowledge, and to promote their work or themselves.

Sustainers complain that no one recognizes their accomplishments and that they have little status (sound familiar?). They become discouraged, stressed, and burned out. They may even switch careers, hoping things will improve. Since their attitude and behavior accompany them wherever they go, however, change is unlikely.

Achievers not only talk about their own contributions but also praise the actions of others. They relate what they do to the work of other health practitioners, discuss administrative plans and how they fit into the lab's objectives, and look for ways to expand and promote their responsibilities. They focus on developing their professional growth.

Dr. Scheele identifies six distinct skills necessary to reach the status of the achiever. The first two relate to developing personal courage; the next two reflect organizational appreciation and political savvy; and the last pair focuses on professional growth. * Experience doing. This skill calls for expanding personal behavior patterns and recognizing the need to take risks. The more chances you are willing to take, the more self-confident you will become. Sustainers let fear of change and the unknown hold them back; achievers don't. Sustainers are afraid to rock the boat; achievers are aware that conflict is an integral part of progress. * Risking linking. Because achievers are willing to open up to new ideas, they interact with people above and below them in the workforce hierarchy. By doing this, they risk losing face. They may even be considered a fraud by other staff members or be accused of attempting to rise above their true status. Sustainers choose to communicate only with their friends; it's safer. * Showing belonging. Working as part of a team is characteristic of achievers, who offer help when it's needed, give praise when it's deserved, and offer rewards when objectives have been met. Achievers are not threatened by others' success but learn from it instead. Sustainers do what is expected of them and no more. Because they fear achievers, they reject or ignore what they could be learning from them. * Exhibit specializing. Achievers market their knowledge and skills. Sustainers can see only one application for their abilities: To them, a technologist is a technologist is a technologist. Achievers, because they realize that their natural talents enhance their clinical science skills, can use their abilities to expand their career opportunities and outside activities. They welcome new challenges and adapt to meet them. * Catapulting. This strategy is used by achievers to grow in their careers. As they look for mentors to help them gain access to new ideas, they network to expand opportunities and open doors. Achievers volunteer for special projects, serve on institutional committees, become active in professional organizations, and participate in community activities. Sustainers tend to look down on such practices or make excuses--typically, lack of time. * Magnifying accomplishments. Individuals who master this skill take responsibility for doing things themselves. Sustainers believe that someone else should do everything for them. They demand recognition but do little to earn it. They feel they deserve a reward when they do a good job.

Achievers, on the other hand, understanding that no one will automatically do anything for them, publicize their accomplishments to enhance their reputations as well as their institutions'--thus helping to raise their own status. Sustainers make few outside contributions and wonder why no one recognizes their value.

Most of us feel more comfortable as sustainers and tend to maintain that behavior. Even achievers move back and forth according to circumstances. Making an effort to use these six skills will move you closer to becoming a full achiever and instill the same incentives in your staff. They will help you enhance your career opportunities, gain professional status and recognition, reach personal and job satisfaction, and create role models for others who may be on the road to star status.

The author is a management consultant and educator; director of Health Management Analysts, Los Gatos, Calif.; and laboratory operations adviser, Ernst & Young, Chicago, Ill.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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