The Power of Saying No and 15 other Habits of Successful Employees

5 mins

1. They motivate themselvesSelf-motivation is one thing that distinguishes you from the crow...

By Amy Halls

Senior Marketing & Talent Manager

1. They motivate themselves
Self-motivation is one thing that distinguishes you from the crowd. Putting your all into every day, and going that extra mile, someone with self-motivation doesn’t wait for someone else to push them.
“We can train people on the market but being a self-starter needs to come from within...”, Ed Steer.

2. They Speak Up in Meetings
Especially if you’re in a large meeting, intimidated by the higher-ups there, or don’t know much about what’s going on, it’s easy to sit tight and listen. But the people who get ahead don’t wait for permission or an invitation to speak—they make sure everyone in the room knows they have something to contribute.

3. They Get to Know the Higher-Ups
It’s harder to get promoted if your managers’ manager doesn’t know who you are - make a point to get to know the higher-ups in your department.
Read more on how to negotiate a pay-rise and promotion, here. 

4. They Manage up
Knowing what you need and being able to take charge of your development is a great habit for getting ahead. Expressing your wants with your manager, and more importantly, coming to them with solutions, will be mutually beneficial and ultimately help you get to your goals quicker.

5. They Take Charge
When faced with a workplace challenge, a project roadblock, or low team morale, most people shrug and say, “Well, there’s not much I can do about it.” The most successful people, on the other hand, take action.

6. They Make Allies Across the Business
Most people work hard to impress their manager, but the most successful people work hard to impress everyone from the receptionist to the cleaners, to their peers and superiors—because they know they’re nothing without a team of people on their side.

7. They Give People Their Full Attention
We’re all aware of being present but the most successful people make a habit of leaving distractions at the door and giving people undivided attention. Helping the person you’re speaking to feel motivated and energised, and showing them that you care about their thoughts and opinions is more powerful than you might think

8. They Stay Professional
There’s nothing worse than getting a reputation for missing deadlines, forgetting to answer emails, and being the office gossip. If you want to get ahead, you should always conduct yourself with integrity … even at those drunken office parties!

9. They Show Up on Time
Not just because it’s the thing to do, but because it ensures you get the best seat in the room.

10. They Think Like Managers, Not Employees
Employees wait to be told what to do—managers think strategically about what needs to be done, and then they do it. Employees do their own job well—managers are committed to the team doing well—so they mentor other employees, pitch in when they’re needed, and go that extra mile if it means the works going to be done better.
And people who get promoted think like managers.

11. They Listen to Feedback
Feedback can be tough to take. Successful employees have figured out how to take it seriously without taking it personally—and more importantly, how to put it into action. “Sphere has always had a culture that encourages feedback, we want an environment where people feel comfortable giving feedback. Feedback facilitates growth and we want all our employees to grow”, Jamie Cox.

12. They Commit to Learning
Learning about the company, the industry, and the world at large—the most successful people are asking questions, attending conferences and courses, and always working to improve upon their skill set and learn something new.

13. They Stay Positive
Remaining positive in the office (and at the bar after work) is key in getting ahead. That’s not to say you don’t recognise when things aren’t going your way, but how you approach these situations make the difference in how you’re perceived by your peers and management.

14. They’re Comfortable with Pressure
“Pressure is a privilege it’s what you do with it that matters”, Billie Jean King.
What’s important is what’s on the other side of pressure. Pushing past your comfort zone is a habit the most successful of us get into a routine of doing.

15. They Don’t Say Yes to Everything
Because if they did, they’d never finish what’s truly important. As you go through your day, make a habit of checking in with your goals and saying no to the things that are getting in the way of that.
That’s not to say you need to ignore everything, but scheduling the important, not urgent things into your day, is a habit that encourages more productive work.

​16. They Don’t Stop Reaching Higher
While promotion is something to celebrate, successful people don’t see it as the end goal. They see it as just one step on a path to a long, fulfilling career.

To speak to one of our consultants about how to get ahead in your career, please email us at

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