9 Ways To Achieve Mastery in the Workplace

Every working professional has to deal with other people in some form or another. The workplace is the corporate professional’s representation of the field, court, track, slope or other place in which a sport is played. While execution of work in these arenas are generally not considered a game, one must admit that we are grouped into teams, we each have a position, there is generally a way to score goals through tasks, sale or project execution and we draft (hire) fire (release) or transfer (trade) people in order to keep our teams as effective as possible. 

While it is important do our jobs effectively, it is equally important to manage interactions with our teams and our working environments (aka workplace). Accepting this fact, we seek ways to add more value to the process by which we execute our role without creating obstacles for our fellow teammates. As an awesome byproduct, we also add value to ourselves in a symbiotic fashion. This is what opens the doors to enhanced opportunities, promotion, recognition, increased compensation and ability to have a lasting beneficial impact in the areas that mean the most to us.  

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, as more detail and elements can always be added for additional clarity and value, yet this list will provide some foundational elements that should be in any such list that describes methods to master the workplace:

1) Solidify Your Sense of Self-Promotion

Embrace the highest form of the role that you have in the workplace. You were hired for a reason, and now it is your duty to perform that role at its utmost ability. According the Business Insider, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. The total average life is 394,200 hours (75 year lifespan, between 20 & 65 years of working age) that means you are spending 23% of your life operating in business roles. That is a large amount of life using any math, so why not, while you are here, be your best? Not necessarily better than anyone else, but your personal absolute best, each day… one day better than the last. Take on the persona of the champion of your role in your mind and work as such.

2) Find Your Approach | Avoid UnProductivity

We all are different people, yet we all are people… meaning while there are differences we all remain the same on some regards. For example, we all need some sort of affection from others, but we all are different in how that affection is desired and performed. There is no right or wrong way in total concept, just effective and ineffective for a certain person or group of people. Your approach to engaging others in the workplace should be positive, solution-oriented, forward focused and consistent. You will need to adjust it to those you work with to decide if you should…

  • Focus on learning/improving processes vs. increasing process execution
  • In performing tasks: Being aggressive in interactions vs. Being malleable and more passive
  • Focus most actions to get “short-term wins” | Focus most actions to build towards “long-term wins”

Approaches to Avoid:

-         Doing the Bare Minimum – This “head in the sand” technique does nothing for your career or for those on your team. Remember, what doesn’t grow is actually slowly dying or going stale.

-         Hide & Seek (Here and Gone) – Being a visible and active member of the team, then shirking back into a shell of that existence afterwards. This shows a lack of consistency and does little to build your professional reputation.

-         Playing the “I’m New” card too long – For those going into new roles, don’t take the grace given in the first few weeks for granted. Be active in building the relationships and business understanding in order gain needed advantages to perform your role at a high level.

-         Nostalgic – Always speaking about past work/teams, how you “used to do it” or “how the other team did it so much better.” Understand that no one on the new team wants to hear that they are wrong or inferior, they want to hear how about what that are doing well and what you all can do to collectively improve and be better.

-         Superheroes – Coming in like you know everything already, no one is on your level and they never will be. This is most unappreciated by your team and will place a target on you in future interactions. True mastery is not in being better than everyone else, but in the ability to reproduce that same level of greatness through others. This is how you become a true superhero without having to play your own theme music.

3) Listen & Observe (The Who, Where, When and What)

The critical skills of listening to what is being said (and not said) as well as observing details about your environment can spell the difference between success and mediocrity in the workplace. Those who can master these skills will be consistently asked for their opinion in various scenarios by superiors as decision-makers need to have as much valuable input as possible to make sound decisions that will impact the organization. 

One good key technique to have is to attempt to be the last to speak, especially if you are the major influencer or leader in the room. This has an inclusive effect on everyone else involved and gives you the added benefit to have all other viewpoints in consideration before you speak. If you aren’t the leader and the leader hasn’t done this, attempt to open discussion with an open statement that would spark the talk and wait to cap the discussion at the end.

Note: If you are wondering why “How” is not listed above, it is because the how usually makes reference to placing an assumption, condition or quality on what was heard and/or observed. This should be left out for now as more factors could be at play, and a here is where we simply gather information to be shared if asked.

4) Have A Learning Plan (Mastering Your Craft)

As any avid sports fan will tell you, they want each member of their favorite team to get better throughout every season and every year. This is imperative in order for the team to stay competitive on the field and advance towards the ultimate goal, a championship. However, it is usually the coaching staff that is tasked with ensuring the players do this or recommend to the general manager and owner that a player be replaced. In the workplace, you are the player. Your manager and director/VP is the GM and Owner. Now some workplaces will have a manager/supervisor/mentor assigned to “coach” you along to assist you in the consistent sharpening or your skills, but unfortunately most do not. (Note: This is something the My Digital Self, LLC (MDS) [www.mdself.com] can remedy for you) You will need to have an active plan for assessing your talent level and incorporating the right trainings to stay at your best.

5) Take Control of Your Time & Environment

You have the distinct advantage in the workplace to manage how you spend your time, whether you are given a specific or general task to perform. Most jobs actually would take less time and be less stressful if certain techniques for time management are used on a consistent basis. 

  1. Plan the day ahead – set daily targets for productivity
  2. Stay focus on the goal at hand. | Use your calendar, headphones and/or strategic conference room time to maximize ability to stay concentrated on a specific task
  3. Work on high priorities first, not easiest task first
  4. Be willing to say no to competing task or social distractors from meeting productive goals
  5. Timebox time spent on non-work-related activities
  6. Use the 80/20 Rule - delegate task that can be done by another at least 80% as well as you can
  7. Have a 5% People Focus / 5% Event Focus / 90% Idea Focus in Problem Solving
  8. Be consistent

A major distractor in the workplace as actually other people. In the next step we will discuss work relationships, however, a major takeaway here is that you cannot control other people but you can control yourself. By controlling your exposure to certain people, conversations and activities you can control the effectiveness of the “people” distractor. We at MDS, LLC have proven strategies on how you can do this without damaging any critical working relationships.

6) Take Ownership of All Work Relationships

You are at work to be a productive member of a team producing a valuable product and/or service. Period. You are not there to create or build upon social circles and personal relationships. While in the natural course of us being human being, such connections can arise, however this is not the goal. With that in mind, personal feelings need to take an extreme back seat (in the nose-bleed section of your mind) and focus on how this interaction can positively progress the goal at hand. Act as a tree in this instance, rooted in the goal itself, only feeding and reacting to what would further growth. 

Personal feelings will be tossed to and fro throughout the day in many situations, however a cool head that is intent on performing in a forward-focused manner while not incurring harm to others will find success on a consistent basis. Save personal outburst of contrary emotional feelings for another place and time, not at the workplace. For example, if one player on our favorite team has strong negative feelings against another fellow team member, the last thing you would want is for that rift to be made public on the field.

There is a list of critical work relationships that need to be managed well for every role, this however, will be covered in a future post.

7) Build Your Own “Team” Support System

Yes, everyone needs to have their own “team” in the workplace. You do not need to be in a leadership position in your company to have and maintain your own team. Remember, you are your own leader of your own career, making it critical to have a support system that you can rely on. It is important to note that having poor choices for those on your team can be very detrimental, so tread lightly. You are welcome to use the suggested matrix at the end of this entry as a tool to assist you in your team member selections. 

Build your team with the following:

  1. Identify who are your most valuable working relationships (to do your job well)
  2. Find out who the major players are on the team and create relationships
  3. Identify both your supporters and your detractors – have a role for supporters to maintain loyalty
  4. Recruit valuable and needed allies both on and outside of the team
  5. Identify those up the chain of escalations - build relationships prior to needing to use them
  6. Have a “two-deep” philosophy in all of your team roles – back-ups are essential
  7. Focus on your “core/critical” team members first – these people affect your ability to work more directly

A couple more important items to consider:

-         Don’t place yourself wholly dependent on the work of another(anyone) outside of due course of process (be able to do your work as mush as possible w/o reliance on someone else)

-         View optimal execution of your role as a team effort, always be ready to recognize others openly for their role/assistance in getting things done

You can use this the following Criteria for Measuring the Value of Your Team (Both Collectively & Individually) – This is best used in a matrix format:

Rank from 1[low] to 3[high] - Competence | Judgement | Energy | Focus | Relationships | Trust

8) Maintain Your Balance

Mastering the workplace also includes having a strict cutoff from the “work bubble” and allow yourself to be immersed in life outside of work. Allow yourself to use the fruits earned in the workplace to feed the past-times, hobbies quiet time, and other shared activities as well to allow yourself to enjoy life and re-charge.

This will help you avoid the following: (over-immersion of work)

-         Going too many directions (unfocused on goals) | Lacking boundaries (easy distractions, un-wise relationships)

-         Over-Committing Self/Resources (lacking priorities) | Isolation (too much self-reliance, not team-oriented)

-         Biased judgements (personal preferences or beliefs) | Work avoidance (using improper approaches)

-         Going over the top (doing too much, burnout)

How to avoid the preceding:

-         Embracing the strategies aforementioned

-         Enforcing Personal Disciplines (Effective daily routines, block time mgmt., conversations, etc.)

-         Building Your External Support Systems (home life, personal relationships, etc.)

9) Track Your Progress & Be Open to Self-Evolution

As aforementioned, you should track your progress toward goals regularly. These self-assessments allow you to take ownership of your career to stay on track. The building of your professional reputation, both internally and externally, is crucial to becoming of more value to yourself and others, therefore enhancing your ability to make the desired impact.

It is also important to understand that this journey isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Establishing a feasible pace can ensure longevity. It is not about beating others; the true victory is in the ability to finish the race. Stay on track, keep your pace, and vigilant to adjust to environmental factors along the way. Over time, you may find that you have to swim, climb and jump (exercise peripheral skills) that may qualify you to become more that what you were before. Be open to embrace such evolutionary activities of yourself, and become a more rounded professional than originally anticipated in the process.

Successful and consistent implementation of these practices can result in people attempting to mimic your success. This is quite okay as it is said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Be open-handed in your sharing of your best practices as this will place you in the position of an influencer of behavior in the workplace. Once in this position, be sure to be genuine and consistent, and you will be well on your way to mastery of your workplace!


The author of this article is Rogers Vigne, CEO of My Digital Self, LLC. To learn more about his company, you can visit his website at www.mdself.com. To contact Rogers, you can email him at [email protected] or setup a time to chat at https://calendly.com/rogersvigne/15min. Rogers enjoys to meet and greet great people. 


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