How to be a good employee (10 times the salary in 10 years) — Part 1: Working Habits

4 min readDec 3, 2020
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

In the past 10 years after my graduation, my salary increased by ~10 times based on my previous job and ~17 times based on the job I was going to (in case you are new to this blog, the offer got retracted).

I am far from being able to claim that I am successful, especially in my current situation. However, I am still proud of what I achieved before this painful offer-retraction episode.

And rest assured, I am not going to stop where I am now. The current difficulties just set the stage for my next jump.

The key for me to achieve what I have achieved is being a good, even top, employee most of the time.

Along the way, I have gathered some leanings and technique that I believe anyone can apply.

So I would like to share that with you, for your consideration and let you be the judge.

This post is going to be “Part 1” — Working Habits.

The most basic and practical requirements of being a good employee is to have good working habits.

Below are 4 habits that I think are most basic and important.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

1. Always write it down

We get tasks all the time from different channels, from our boss, colleagues and customers through meetings, phone calls, emails etc etc. It could even be something that we ourselves simply want or plan to do.

It is important that we write it down in a to-do list or something like that, so that we do not forget.

It is simple. But you will be surprised how few can do this consistently.

When you forget something you need to do and act like “Arrh…sorry, I forgot”, you send a strong message that “I am not reliable and you cannot trust me. You need to check my work”.

Trust me, your work life will be miserable if your boss feels the need to check your work frequently.

So you should write it down, even for your own sake.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2. Always clarify

When you write down a task, the next step is to clarify.

You can ask yourself 5 questions. And if any of them is not clear, clarify.

- What do I need to do?

- Why do I need to do it?

- When do I need to complete it?

- How am I going to do it? Is there a better way to do it?

- What is the next step? e.g Should I review with you or should I send it out directly?

This is to ensure that you do the right thing the right way.

There is no worse waste of time and efforts than handing in something that you spend hours or days in doing, but turns out to be completely useless.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

3. Always plan ahead

Planning ahead shows you have things in control and actually know how to complete the task within the required time-frame.

For example, if you need to complete an analysis by a certain time, you need to consider:

- How am I going to do the analysis?

- What input do I need?

- Who or where do I need to get the input from?

- When do I need to get the input by?

- What kind of time buffer do I need?

- …

Another aspect of planning ahead is to inform ahead.

If you cannot complete a task in time, inform as early as possible so that the other party can try to help and make necessary arrangements.

If you need to take leave, inform as early as possible so that the rest of the team can plan accordingly to cover for you.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

4. Always think about your “customer”

Your “customer” could be your external customers, which we usually refer to, as well as your internal customers, which could be your boss, colleagues etc.

To think about them means:

- Deliver error-free work

- Deliver clear instructions, such as “My additions are highlighted in RED. Please review”

- Deliver the message understandable to them

- Think about how they will react and try to go for “Win-win”

- …

Just put yourself in their shoes and treat them the way you want to be treated.

Above are the 4 working habits that will help everyone in their work.

They are as simple as common sense. And I am sure everyone of us will act by them from time to time.

What really matters is to consistently follow them without fail. With time, you will be among the best employees.

With the 4 habits, we are off with a good start. Of course, they are not enough to ensure promotions and pay raises. So stay tune for the upcoming episodes.




Top-tier consultants seeking life purpose and self-realization