Hopefully it doesn’t happen all the time, but there are some moments when we really do just screw the pooch when it comes to our work. Maybe you totally blanked on an email that you were supposed to write last week, or you took too many important days off when major events took place at your office. Either way, someone is looking at you and wondering, “Are they really the person for the job?”
If this sounds like your situation, and you don’t want to rely on prayer alone to save your career (or even just your simple after-school job), here are some tips. You better not screw these up.
1. Take every shift you possibly can
If you are working hourly, at a small store or pizza joint, you might find it easier than not to get someone to cover your shift when your friends want to get together for movie night. You might think this job doesn’t really matter, since it’s just a way to earn a few extra summer dollars, but every job you have is practice for performing in future business roles.
So what is the point of taking extra shifts if you don’t really need the money? It proves to your boss that the job is more intrinsically valuable to you than some reward, or whatever show your friends are re-watching. It isn’t about Papa John’s and their business; it’s about strengthening your performance early on so you are more flexible in future careers and, in return, are less likely to stay on thin ice (should you ever find yourself on it).
2. Find work beyond what has been asked of you
If you are worried that you might be on the chopping block at your current place of work, start proving your worth. Employers want employees who go beyond what has been asked of them. You might think you are doing fine because you are just following the rules and you’re not getting demoted, but you will also not be receiving any promotions for this behavior. If you are already in a hole, a lackluster performance will only keep you there until they just decide to fire you.
So go above what you have been asked to do: If you are a clerk at a shop, walk around with a duster and straighten things up; spray down the windows and sweep the floor, even if your only job description was to work the register. In this situation, it’s okay to be a bit of a suck up to save your skin.
3. Be highly responsive
You are on the edge, so you need to be ready at any time of day to step into action if you are needed. If your boss emails you at 11 p.m. asking you to fill out a report or email a client but you were just about to snuggle up and go to bed, do not put it off until the morning. Do the work as soon as you are asked, because it shows efficiency and commitment to your work — unless you are not in the right state of mind (say, you’ve had a couple drinks already, or you are so tired that your head is spinning), in which case it’s okay to put it off until you are feeling better. Just remind yourself that as soon as you do, it’s work time.
4. Don’t rely on your relationship with your boss to save you from this sinking ship
You might have slipped up a couple times at work recently; maybe you you cut your finger chopping cilantro and you accidentally served some bloody tacos to a couple of angry customers. If you find yourself thinking, “At any other job, I might get in trouble in this situation, but my boss really likes my energy, so I think I’ll be fine,” think again.
Your boss’s main focus is to keep their business afloat, and your bad performance reflects poorly on the company they have worked so hard to build. They will not think twice when it comes to firing someone with a record of screwing up.
5. Once you have successfully climbed out of the fiery hole of potential unemployment, make sure to stay out
Just because you have worked really hard to climb back from the edge at your place of work does not mean you will never end up in that position again. You need to consistently perform at your highest level to prove your worth; once you have been closely observed to evaluate your work ethic, those eyes never really get taken off of you, so while you might think you are in the clear, you could easily fall again — but, this time, it’ll just be falling onto a couch, scrolling on your phone for job openings.
You shouldn’t just take these tips to heart when you’re on the rocks; it’s important for every second of your employment. You need to be working hard enough to prevent mistakes, so you don’t have to worry about being on the hook again. Let’s not be okay with spraying the cuts with disinfectant and hoping they will heal; let’s instead focus on not cutting yourself at all, and not having to buy the first-aid kit in the first place.