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Tips For Being A Successful Employee

Employment Advice For Persons With Developmental Disabilities

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Artwork provided by an individual supported by Reena.

Dear Joanna,
I’ve been working as a receptionist for a while. I’ve had decent performance reviews, and enjoy the role and the team. However, I would like to learn how to be a successful employee that will help me keep the job for the long term. I would like to stay at this company for the rest of my working life! Do you have any suggestions?

Signed: Success on the job

Dear STJ,

Success on the job is related to skills and behaviour and are learnable, states Denise Bissonnette (2004) in her highly-recommended book “30 Ways to Shine as a new employee”. I’ve consulted with Melissa, who is a receptionist at Reena, and has kindly offered her pearls of wisdom on this topic as an individual supported by Reena. As a dedicated, professional and successful employee, Melissa recommends the following tips that she practices on the job:

  1. Have a realistic career goal. Before entering into the workforce, it’s important to understand your strengths, limitations, current skills and interests as well as the areas that you need to learn so that you can determine a realistic and clear career or employment goal. With this self-awareness, that can be gained through vocational assessments, or, in my case, with the help of a Reena Job Coach. Only then was I able to prepare an employment plan and focus on actions to realize my career goal.
  2. Never give up and be eager to learn. Think positive. Never be afraid of asking for help and advice. Ask a lot of questions to learn the job. Make sure that you have a support team. In my case, I approach my immediate trainer/supervisor, as well as mentors, and Reena Job Coach. For example, I took a computer course in order to improve my MS Office. My next learning goal is to learn Powerpoint. Be as self-directed as possible with learning new tasks even if it means staying after work to study. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism.
  3. Be proactive. Take initiative. Once I learned the basics of my job, I always do more than what is asked of me by my supervisor. When I have finished my tasks, I take the initiative to find out what other work needs to be done, and how I can make my team or manager’s work easier. For example, when I finish the assigned data entry, I advised my manager that I am available to help out my co-worker with filing. Sometimes, I make recommendations on how to improve my workplace environment. For example, I noticed that the supply room was messy. I went ahead on my own and organized it.
  4. Note-taking is one of the most important strategies that I use for success on the job. I always take notes during and after meetings, when given instructions and learning new skills and tasks as well as during performance reviews. This is how I can keep organized and keep track of my to-do lists. As a receptionist, I use email and the telephone to communicate and to keep up-to-date. Everyone has their own accommodations (or strategies) to be a successful employee. It’s important to know this about yourself. If you don’t know, consult with a Job Coach.
  5. Prioritizing. In my role, I am required to multi-task. I had to learn how to prioritize my tasks. Again, note-taking has helped me work through the tasks that need to be done and decide what is urgent. Keeping organized is key.
  6. Be punctual, reliable and responsible. Show up for work on time. If you can’t because you are sick, then let your immediate supervisor know by calling him or her. Make sure the you have confirmation that your message was received. 

Signed: Joanna

To submit your questions and comments to this column in confidence, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Specialist at Reena.