6 signs you're good at your job, according to an HR executive with over 35 years of experience

After 36 years in HR, you gain a lot of insight into people. Approximately 50% of the workforce comes to perform well and simply desires a "Thank you" after the day. Unfortunately, many employers overlook the significance of this simple acknowledgment, which can greatly enhance employee engagement. Often, employees are uncertain about their performance standing. Ambitious individuals who are focused on career advancement seek daily recognition. Subtle actions, like a manager inviting someone to lunch or spending more time with another employee, can lead to perceptions of inequality and, in extreme cases, amplify feelings of stress, anxiety, and insecurity.

Performance management, including appraisals, should occur more frequently than annually. It should be a continuous dialogue between you and your supervisor. A former boss of mine followed a great mantra: There should be no surprises. To achieve this, employers should engage in discussions and performance reviews throughout the year. Excelling at your job involves how much you're growing, adding value, and being recognized. If your boss isn't vocal about your performance, these could be signs you're doing well.

Working efficiently is marked by the ease with which you accomplish tasks. For instance, if you notice a decrease in emails or find extra time at the end of the day, it's a sign of overachievement. Conversely, accumulating unfinished work may indicate underperformance. However, a busy inbox doesn't necessarily mean poor performance. Embracing technology and better practices, like automating tasks and setting up email rules, are signs of a proactive learner.

Effective planning and prioritizing are indicators of good performance, ensuring your boss receives no surprises. Last-minute work and hasty responses do not convey competency. Frequent reporting, updates, and punctuality are positive signs. Receiving commendations from colleagues, clients, and customers also indicates you're on the right track.

Engagement is a key performance indicator, evidenced by attendance, appearance, collaboration, email interaction, and participation in workplace activities. For employers, understanding their employees and how they operate under pressure is crucial. This can be achieved through spending time with them and gaining insights into their motivations and moods.

A holistic view of individuals, recognizing their unique talents beyond their daily tasks, is essential for fostering a positive work environment. Employees who come up with solutions rather than problems, and who bring well-researched ideas to meetings, demonstrate good performance. If a mistake occurs, acknowledging it and proposing solutions is important.

Curiosity is another positive sign, as it shows a willingness to learn and improve internal processes. Asking for regular feedback if you're unsure about your performance can also help. You can establish personal milestones, maintain a workplace diary, or set your own KPIs to track progress.

Remember to balance work with personal life. Your worth and status should not solely be defined by your job, but also by your roles as a child, partner, parent, or friend.  

A record proportion of working-age women are employed, based on Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report. 

### Why it matters 

It's an extraordinary recovery narrative. Not only have women reclaimed their pandemic-era job market losses, but they have also been surpassing those figures month after month.

### Zoom in

In May, a record 75.7% of women aged 25-54 were employed. Employment in the childcare sector also saw an increase, allowing more women to enter the workforce, according to Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter's chief economist. "Parents can now reliably drop their kids off," she says, pointing out that some centers previously turned parents away on days they were understaffed.  

### The big picture 

The employment rate for working-age men is stable near pre-pandemic levels, with 86.4% in February 2020 and 86% in May 2024.

### Reality check

While women's employment numbers have significantly improved, reaching 75.7% in May 2024 is only slightly higher than the 74.9% recorded almost 25 years ago.  

Even those at the top of the corporate hierarchy often grapple with self-doubt regarding their achievements. A significant 71% of U.S. CEOs report experiencing imposter syndrome, as indicated by a recent Korn Ferry survey involving around 400 executives. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing issues for C-suite leaders, and even four years later, they are still struggling to adapt to the sweeping changes reshaping the workplace. Executives are navigating many unprecedented challenges prompted by the pandemic, such as the rapid adoption of AI and automation, resistance to returning to the office, and in some cases, economic recessions, according to Mark Arian, CEO of Korn Ferry Consulting.

Historically, CEOs might have encountered one or two major business shifts during their careers, but now they face numerous challenges simultaneously, explains Arian. This situation places immense pressure on those leading organizations . Some CEOs await a "return to normal," which remains elusive amid persistent inflation and uncertain economic conditions. Additionally, consumer anxieties and geopolitical tensions further complicate successfully steering an organization.

CEOs took on more operational responsibilities during the pandemic, such as establishing remote work guidelines and redesigning offices to encourage employee attendance. This additional workload, coupled with the need to stay abreast of a rapidly evolving business environment, has taken its toll on leaders. As a result, CEO resignation rates are soaring. Global CEO turnover surged in the first quarter of 2024, with 51 departures and 68 new appointments among major companies, as reported by Russell Reynolds Associates.

The analysis reveals that "failed CEO appointments," or those lasting less than two years, constituted 15% of outgoing CEOs in early 2024. Turnover rates are particularly high for women in the C-suite, with approximately 24% of female CEOs leaving their roles within two years, more than double the 10% rate for male CEOs. This trend is attributed to microaggressions, promotion disparities, and the added responsibility of managing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Contrary to popular belief that imposter syndrome predominantly affects women and minorities, Korn Ferry's research indicates that both male and female CEOs experience similar levels of self-doubt and inadequacy. According to Arian, it's a "crisis of confidence," and many people do not realize how complex the role of a CEO has become due to the myriad of challenges they face. Despite these challenges, low compensation is not among them, as median CEO pay reached $16.3 million in 2023, nearly 200 times the typical worker's wages. Some CEOs saw their pay increase by 50% or more.

Increasingly, CEOs are also being drawn into social issues, with growing expectations for them to take public stands on contentious political and social matters. An Edelman survey of over 1,000 people found that 70% expect CEOs to speak publicly about immigration and 74% expect them to address climate change. Historically, corporations and their leaders have influenced legislation through lobbying. However, as trust in media and government leaders waned during the pandemic, people began looking to CEOs for leadership, a role that not all executives are comfortable with.

Arian notes that successful leaders will be those who can swiftly adapt to changing employee demands and consumer behaviors, emphasizing that it's not enough to merely maintain the status quo. CEOs must be prepared to manage changes coming from all directions.

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