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10 things electricians can do today to be more valuable employees (no talent required)

10 things electricians can do today to be more valuable employees (no talent required)

Every morning when I arrived at my jobsite when I was building the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, I would see the list of “10 things that require zero talent” written on my superintendent’s whiteboard. #1 was being on time and it was common for him to point to it when his field supervisors showed up late.

I’ve seen numerous articles written about these 10 things, and the implication is always that they’re not hard to do. But as a reformed late person myself (who was reformed by my always-early wife), I’m here to tell you that these 10 things might require zero talent, but they do require a conscious effort to change.

We’ve re-written this list specifically for electricians with tips on how to make them a habit literally tomorrow. There are a lot of tips here, so try implementing just one per day so you can really focus on nailing that one. Over time, they will start to just come naturally.

#1 Be on time

If you plan out your morning to be there 20 minutes early, you will be surprised how many times you show up just on time, not early at all. Stuff happens: traffic, you can’t find a parking spot, you forgot you need gas. If you plan to be at the jobsite on time and then there’s one variable you didn’t plan on, boom, you’re late. If your job starts at 7AM, plan to leave your house with your GPS telling you will get there at 6:40AM. If you’re early, then you’re going to impress the boss. If one of those variables does come up and you’re just on time, then at least you’re still meeting expectations. You will also see just how much more zen your morning is when you’re in the far right lane going the speed limit instead of having to weave in and out of traffic to make up time. Here are some tips for being on time:

  • Plan out your morning to be at the jobsite 20 minutes early.
  • Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier than normal.
  • Go to bed 20 minutes earlier than normal to make up the time from getting up 20 minutes earlier.
  • Make your lunch the night before.
  • In the morning, don’t even open TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or any other time wasters. We’ve got an alternative in tip #3 below.

#2 Make an effort

It’s tempting to skip this one or write it off by thinking, “of course I’m already making an effort,” but really think about it. If you work on a team, do you always leave a specific task to other electricians because you don’t enjoy doing it? If you work by yourself and encounter a problem that you don’t know how to solve, have you ever covered it up or left it for someone else to solve later? Here are a few tips for how you can make more of an effort on the jobsite:

  • Ask someone more experienced about a skill that you’ve been wanting to learn.
  • Next time you run into an issue, work on a solution yourself before passing the issue on to someone else or covering it up.
  • When asking your supervisor how to solve a problem, present them with not only the problem, but also bring to them some potential solutions you thought may solve it.

#3 Be high energy

Despite what the others on the jobsite might say, slamming a Monster on your drive in isn’t the solution to getting you energized for the day. Eventually you’re going to crash, plus you already know all that sugar is contributing to that belly you’re working on. Here are some healthier (not to mention cheaper) ways to stay energized throughout the day:

  • When you wake up, instead of opening a social media app, put on music or a podcast that gets you pumped for the day.
  • Avoid energy drinks and honeybuns. The sugar will give you a momentary jolt, but before you know it you’re taking an hour to install a switch. Instead, drink stay fresh by drinking some good ol’ high quality H2O.
  • Need something sweet? Bring an apple or orange to work and take a break to eat is some time after lunch. It will break up the last part of the day and give you the energy you need to wrap up for the day.

#4 Have a positive attitude

I’ll be honest. This can be a real challenge on many jobsites, especially when a job gets behind schedule or over budget. Morale drops off and everyone is pissed. But have you ever had someone on your jobsite who seems like they’re always positive? If so, they really stand out in your mind because they can completely transform the morale on the entire site. Here are a few ways you can be that stand-out positive person:

  • Compliment others on their work. But it has to be true. Point out your buddy’s sweet box offset or clean panel install.
  • When you run into a problem that you don’t know how to solve, take it as an opportunity to learn something you haven’t done before. That way it’s in your toolbox for next time.

#5 Be passionate about your work

If you’re not naturally passionate about your work, it can be hard to just suddenly become passionate. But remember that you are essential to this country. You should be proud that you are part of the tradespeople building America. Building projects to code safely and efficiently also helps to protect others’ safety and their property. Here are a few tips for ways you can become more passionate about your work:

  • Follow TikTok creators who do really clean work. Seeing others who are dedicated to their trade and put in good work will drive you to do the same. Here are a few: Wrecken Electric, Karly the Sparky, and Lex the Electrician.
  • Look up YouTube channels of creators who give tips to install work safer and more efficiently. You’ll be excited to share these tips with other electricians on the job. Here are some examples: Electrician U, Jess the Sparky, and American Electrician.
  • Create your own content! It could be Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc. Don’t expect that you’re going to upload content, it goes viral, and you can retire. But it will push you to do work you’re proud of and you may get some useful feedback from other electricians as well. Just don’t let it affect your work or slow you down. If you record videos at work, edit and post them when you’re off the clock.

#6 Use good body language

The biggest thing to remember here is to not be distracted by devices. When you’re talking to others on the jobsite, don’t check your phone or glance at your Apple watch (or any other watch for that matter). This applies to conversations with the boss, your peers, and the helpers & apprentices. If you get a call, call them back after your conversation. Silence your notifications for text messages so you’re not tempted to look when you’re having a conversation.

Your body language and how your conduct yourself outside of conversations matters too. If others see you screwing around or walking slowly from task to task, it’s easy to get the impression that you don’t care about your work. Here are a couple of ways you can communicate better body language on the jobsite:

  • When you’re having a direct conversation with a supervisor or peer, maintain eye contact. Nod your head while they’re speaking to show them that you’re picking up what they’re putting down.
  • Try putting your phone in your tool bag and not taking it out unless you’re getting a call (assuming your supervisor doesn’t text you). If you’re not looking at your phone, you’ll be more focused on work and the boss will notice.

#7 Be coachable

Being coachable is one of the most valuable traits an employee can have because if you’re open to feedback and can change quickly, then your supervisor knows they can complete a job efficiently with you onsite. It’s also to your benefit because you will gain new skills much more quickly than everyone else if boss knows you’ll take their feedback seriously. Try these tips to be more coachable:

  • When the boss is giving instructions or reviewing your work, pay close attention and immediately write down the feedback. Don’t take the feedback personally. Don’t get defensive. Think of it this way; if your super is giving you feedback, it’s because they care enough about you to want to see you develop.
  • I prefer writing my notes in a little notebook I can keep in my pocket so that I’m not distracted by notifications on my phone when taking feedback or writing it down. Review your feedback notes each morning before you start and cross them off after you feel like you’ve implemented them.
  • After you get feedback, specifically look for opportunities to try again and ask the boss if you have improved. For example, if your super isn’t happy with your conduit bends, take the next opportunity to improve, then show your super in person or send them a photo to ask for additional feedback. It shows you were listening when getting the feedback.

#8 Do a little extra

Don’t be the guy in this TikTok. This is probably one of the hardest things on this list because you will see so many others on the jobsite putting in 75% effort and getting away with it, making the same amount of money you are. So what’s the inventive to go above and beyond, especially when no one is looking? I promise you that over the long run, the super is going to realize that you’re the one they can put on the job and it actually gets done without them having to ask you to keep working. That will matter when it comes to raises and promotions. Here are some tangible steps you can take to do a little extra around the jobsite:

  • If you finish a task early, find a way to work on a new task, help others with what they’re working on, or asking a supervisor what else you could help with. Your peers will also really appreciate the help.
  • Take your lunch and breaks as scheduled of course, but when you’re on, you’re on. Stay focused until the task is done.

#9 Be prepared

Think about what jobs you have tomorrow. What tools might be required that you don’t normally have? If you’re on the same job for multiple days, what were you missing the day before that you could use tomorrow or what were you almost out of? What electrical code can you review today to help you overcome a task tomorrow? Try out these tips to be more prepared on the jobsite each day:

  • Write down your schedule for the next day. Write down each tool and all the materials you’ll need for each task. Make sure you’ve got that tool in your bag and it’s charged and ready.
  • Review code or look up tips for the work you’ve got tomorrow. If you don’t feel confident in what you’ve got scheduled, ask for assistance before you get started.
  • Pick up this electrical reference guide if you haven’t already.

#10 Have strong work ethic

Everyone has heard “work hard, play hard.” But I think that’s missing something. You’re got to work hard, play hard, rest hard. You can’t show up to work every day and work hard when you’re not well-rested. Here are a couple of tips for strengthening your work ethic:

  • Plan out your evening to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
  • When you’re at work, try turning off your wifi and mobile data so that you still have cell service for calls and texts, but no internet. It helps you focus and can prevent you from getting distracted by news, sports, or push notifications from all those apps.

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