How to be the best version of yourself at work

By Robert Half on 21st March 2022

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Learning how to be the best version of yourself at work is an ongoing journey that can be incredibly rewarding, both professionally and personally.

Here are some tips on how to be yourself at work, why personal growth is beneficial for your career and steps that can help you get there.

Reasons to invest in personal growth at work

You may want to be the best version of yourself for personal reasons but investing in personal growth in the workplace can also have a positive impact on your career.

Increased happiness and engagement at work
In order to be your best self in the workplace, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about your goals, motivations and career aspirations. It’s this honesty which will ensure you continue to work happy and stay engaged.“There was a time when my attention was being overwhelmingly stretched in multiple directions” says Victoria Sprott, Staff Development and Talent Director at Robert Half UK. “I took a bold decision to talk to my employer and was certain that they would tell me it was time to go but I was met with a totally different result. This goes to show the importance of taking time to think about what you want to do and having the confidence to ask for it.”

Better relationships
Heightened interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are essential for good relationships in both your professional and personal life. The fastest way to improve these skills is to undertake personal growth and development at work. Joseph C. Rode (Professor of Management at Miami University of Ohio) recently told Business News Daily:

"While emotional intelligence includes the ability to use emotions to increase motivation and focus, it also includes the ability to detach from very powerful short-term emotions when needed to better focus on the tasks at hand." 

You’re better placed to overcome challenges
When you take the time to work on your flaws and shortcomings, you may find that you’re more self-aware and stable, making you better prepared to overcome any challenges or obstacles that an ever-changing workplace may throw your way.

Related: How to maintain respectful communication in the workplace

6 steps to help you be your best self at work

1.    Create a clear career plan and try to move toward it
Your personal growth in the workplace begins with deciding where you’d like your career to take you and which tasks you enjoy most. When you have a defined career path and an idea of what makes you happiest, you’ll find it easier to isolate what you need to work on to help get there. 

“As you continue in your professional life it’s important to reassess your career and your career goals the entire time,” says Victoria “Ask yourself these questions: what do I want, when do I want it, how am I going to achieve it and what resources will I need?”

2.    Be your authentic self
It can be difficult to decide how to be yourself at work, especially when you want to appear professional or want to please everyone. Image consultant, David A. McKnight says:

"It's really important that the way you feel inside and your values and beliefs and who you are internally match the external. If the two are incongruent, that's when people's antennas tend to go up, and they feel there's something about you that isn't authentic."

To be your best self in the workplace, allow some of your personality to come through at work. Your relationships are likely to improve, and you’ll be perceived as more consistent, authentic and trustworthy.

3.    Become a positive thinker
Negative self-talk and ‘glass half empty’ thoughts are unlikely to get you closer to your goal to be the best version of yourself. Learn to identify negative thoughts about your own abilities or those of your colleagues and, instead, look for something positive to focus on. How can the problem be turned into an opportunity? How can your colleagues or stakeholders help you solve the problem?

4.    Consider the company you keep
Have you noticed that certain members of the team are always negative? Perhaps the people you work with enjoy gossiping? The company you keep at work will change the perception your superiors and colleagues have of you, and can also have a negative effect on your own personal growth. 

You may be able to influence your personal growth in the workplace by intentionally surrounding yourself with people who reflect the same qualities you’d like to emulate. 

5.    Evolve your soft skills
Qualifications and hard skills are important for career progression, but learning to develop your soft skills can lead to real personal growth and development at work.

Take time to work on elevating your emotional intelligence: respond rather than reacting in the moment, listen more and exercise your empathy.

6.    Turn setbacks into motivation
They say ‘smooth seas don’t make good sailors’ and the same is true of personal growth and development at work. Each setback or challenge you face should be seen as a new opportunity to use what you’ve learned and to learn something new.

If you miss out on a promotion or project, think about what you could improve on, what you might have done differently and how you can keep striving to be your best self. Every setback is an opportunity to grow!

Be the best version of yourself going forward

It’s unlikely that you’ll figure out how to be yourself at work or how to be your best self in a day or two. It’s an ongoing process that you’ll need to invest continuous time and effort in, but the rewards will be well worth it. 

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