We’re always on the lookout for the slightest opportunity to further our professional careers. After all, sheer hard work and dedication can only get you so far at the workplace, you have to stand out from the crowd if you want to get noticed. What if there were scientifically proven ways you could employ to get ahead? Here’s a small selection of science-backed career choices and lifestyle changes that will set you on the path to achieving success in your chosen career.
1. The Power Of Positivity
Every boss loves an employee that can give regular proof of their productivity, which is why productive employees are more likely to go on to have successful careers. A 2015 study conducted by Michigan State University researchers published in Journal of Applied Psychology offers an important insight. According to the researchers, employees with a negative mindset are more likely to be unproductive at work.
However, the study explains it’s not just about having a positive mindset at work. ‘Negative-minded’ employees who keep pointing out problems in the office help the company grow by highlighting areas for improvement but are themselves more likely to become mentally fatigued and experience a drop in productivity. However, ‘positive-minded’ employees can also tend to ignore issues that need to be addressed, which might hurt the company in the long run.
“The moral of this story is not that we want people to stop raising concerns within the company, because that can be extremely beneficial. But constantly focusing on the negative can have a detrimental effect on the individual,” said study co-author Russell Johnson. Rather than just pointing out mistakes, suggesting ways to fix them can have a positive effect, explain the researchers.
2. Carry Yourself Confidently
Even though it does nothing to affect your performance at work, your posture has a great impact on your career prospects. In simple terms, taller men and women seem to enjoy a professional advantage over their shorter colleagues. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2004 found that taller people earn more than shorter people over their career. Even when the results were corrected for gender, the researchers found that a person who is six feet tall would be predicted to earn nearly $166,000 more over the course of a 30-year career than one who is 5’5’’.
Citing the need for further research into the subject because it’s an important topic, the researchers wrote, “Practically, it is important for managers to know whether height affects performance because it proxies self-confidence and persuasiveness or whether height acts independently of these processes.”
What can you do about this situation? While it’s obviously impossible to suddenly become taller, correcting your posture might help. Keeping your back straight and carrying yourself confidently makes you appear taller and helps you make a better impression over prospective employers than others who stay slouched over.
3. Don’t Move Up Too Soon
A study published in the journal Management Science in March 2017 attempted to find out whether it was better to take up a job offer at a high-profile company early in one’s career or to make the move later on. Led by Jie Gong at the National University of Singapore, the study on the ‘Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect’ used the case of Premier League footballers in England to demonstrate how reaching your full potential depends on the kind of people you surround yourself with.
The researchers focused on teams that had been relegated to a lower division at the end of a football season. Relegation to the lower league represented the shift from a big pond to a little pond in this case. Although you would expect players still playing for the relegated teams to suffer a crisis of confidence and a dip in form, the researchers found that the reverse was true.
After some players from the relegated teams had accepted transfers to Premier League teams to continue playing at the top level of football, players who had previously been playing substitute roles suddenly got a lot more playing time. This enabled them to hone their skills and become better players. Gong envisaged a similar effect in the professional world, where young employees who move on to big companies early on might find themselves lost in the crowd while those who chose to stay on at smaller companies can develop more fully before moving on to bigger things when the time was right.
“We think that it applies to industries where front-line experience is very important–and where the opportunity to gain that experience is limited within a firm,” Gong said. “In management consulting, say–the most valuable cases are usually awarded to the best consultant. And if you end up in a top firm but a mediocre worker, then you are going to have less chance to interact with those valuable clients.”
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