How to Earn Respect and Recognition at Work (Even When Your Company Is Dysfunctional)

How do I earn respect at a toxic company? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by John L. Miller, PhD, Software Engineer/Architect, on Quora:

The path to becoming respected is simple. How do you get more respect? You earn it.

At work, here are things you can do to earn more respect.

  • Own your work. When you're given a task, do it on time or early. Don't let yourself get blocked. If you get blocked, use the time you are blocked productively for other tasks, and let someone know. If you're going to miss a deadline, let your boss know well before that deadline lapses. If you make a commitment, honor it.
  • Be reliable. Admit what you know and don't know rather than guessing. Do good quality work that doesn't need to be redone. Be someone your boss and team can count on.
  • Be helpful. Dig in and help other people in a way which is useful to them. Don't seek credit for the work you help them with, it's their work and they own it. When there's a problem and they're looking for volunteers, volunteer if you have the capacity to do that thing, or volunteer conditionally explaining what would have to be delayed / shunted. Do a little more than your part.
  • Be friendly and positive. If you have worries or negative feelings, keep them to yourself or share with your boss. Motivate people by showing you believe in what you're doing and in the project as a whole. Smile. Work hard. Don't get discouraged, or if you do, fight through it, working harder to fix things.

You get respect by being a person who is reliable, honest, humble, helpful, works hard, and is part of the team. At least, that's what I believe.

Your boss is doing it wrong if he or she is criticizing you in public rather than in private, but if they're the boss and if you're not acting on that criticism to do better, that's on you. If your peers really just want to see you fail, don't fight or argue with them. Just do a good job, and don't fail. That's how you earn respect.

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