A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Expert-Backed Secrets to Succeed in Your Job

Itching to get a promotion this year? Follow these expert-approved secrets to become a better coworker while climbing the ladder.


Allow yourself to fail

Failure has a bad connotation, but it can actually be your path to success. Forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone will help you develop new skills and encourage you to take more risks, says Chanie Wilschanski, early childhood leadership coach and founder of DiscoverED Consulting. “You slowly start to become more comfortable with this process of ‘failing forward,’” she says. “You might not be winning, but you’re still moving forward.” Promise yourself that once a week, you’ll try something new that you’re afraid you won’t succeed in. For instance, put your introversion aside and ask to join a group of coworkers for lunch every Tuesday, or ask if you can cover a certain task for your boss. If your attempts don’t stack up, see it as a second chance instead of a failure, says Wilschanski. Once you accept that the result might be what you’d hoped, you’ll have the freedom to try new things and even start thriving in the areas that used to be weaknesses.

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Go to colleagues before your boss

When you hit a roadblock on a tough assignment, your first instinct might be to go directly to your boss for help. Before you ask a higher-up, though, take time to ask colleagues for ideas, then bring those solutions (acknowledging your coworkers’ help, of course) to your manager. Not only will you pull your team together and recognize your colleagues’ strengths, but your boss will notice you’re invested in the job—not just someone who expects the answers to be handed to them. “When promotions come around, you’re on the boss’s radar as someone who’s a hard worker and a performer,” says Wilschanski. Don’t miss these other 16 smart ways to build trust with your boss.


Get friendly with your coworkers

Your coworkers aren’t your competition—they’re your team. Being a team player encourages everyone else to put their best foot forward, bringing out better ideas and smoother workdays. “It gives the boss a lot of joy,” says Wilschanski. “The company feels different when people are getting along.” Keeping your snippy comments to yourself is just the start. Go the extra mile by inviting a new hire to lunch, or offer to help if you notice a colleague struggling with a computer program, she suggests. Try these other ways to build trust with your coworkers.


Don’t be afraid of looking weak

“The reason people are afraid to ask for help is they’re afraid the don’t measure up,” says Wilschanski. If you’re stuck, though, asking for help could be the only way to move forward. To get a nudge without feeling weak, approach your boss or a coworker with solutions, not just questions. Do all the work that you can before asking for help, says Wilschanski, and have a couple ideas prepared to show off your creative thinking.


Speak up more at meetings

If you’re an introvert, you probably hate the idea of pitching an idea at a meeting. Don’t let those nerves stop you, though. “The quieter people have the most brilliant ideas,” says Wilschanski. To make it easier to interject, ask a colleague you’re close with to help create a segue when you can speak, she suggests. For instance, if you know you’ll be discussing a project you’re particularly passionate about, have that coworker mention that you have an idea to share. Giving yourself the opportunity to prepare will make public speaking less intimidating. Plus, use these science-backed confidence boosters beforehand so you feel even more ready.


Learn how your coworkers want to be appreciated

Showing gratitude keeps the team’s morale up and encourages the company to keep up the good work. Saying “thank you” is a start, but knowing how each person likes to be acknowledged can make you stand out even more in their eyes. Some people like everyone clapping for them in a meeting, while others prefer hearing praises during a private one-on-one, says Wilschanski. To go above and beyond, reward particularly good work with a small but personal surprise, like a croissant for the employee’s favorite bakery.

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Don’t be afraid to brag a little

If you’ve been working hard to change for the better, it can be frustrating if your boss doesn’t acknowledge the change. Just because your manager hasn’t congratulated you for getting your projects done early or for taking on extra work doesn’t mean he or she hasn’t noticed, says Wilschanski. To make sure your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, politely bring it up to your boss. Make yourself vulnerable by admitting how tough those goals were initially, then mention how proud you are of what you’ve done to surpass them. “You’re turning the tables and showing your boss what you’re doing,” says Wilschanski. Your boss will be thrilled about your hard work and will likely thank you for the extra effort.


Encourage more brainstorming

If you’re the boss and an employee comes to you for help, have the worker brainstorm before you discuss solutions. Ask the employee if he or she had any ideas. If the answer is no, ask the person to think about it while you excuse yourself for a cup of coffee. “Leaving the room allows the employee to think because a boss’s presence can be extremely intimidating,” says Wilchanski. Asking your employees to flex their brains will make the whole team smarter and more creative, she says.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.