10 Ways to Create Karma at Work

This guest post is a continuation of a month long series of top 10 lists here on genpink of varying topics. This post was written by Vickie Elmer, a freelance writer whom I meet through Brazen Careerist. While putting together this series and brainstorming topic ideas Vickie sent me an email saying that she has big plans for her topic beyond just this blog post. I’m excited to see how that develops!

Never mind building your personal brand. Instead, start creating good karma in your career and  your office. Karma has strength and longevity, yet also builds a bond today. Karma is simply the ripple effects of your actions which many believe determine your future or even your next life.  It’s a pay it forward approach to office kindness and cooperation. It’s easy and joyful and it may even advance your career.  Here’s 10 ways to create karma in your workplace:

1.Be friendly and curious.

Smile and say hello in the halls and bathrooms. Be the happy coworker, the one that everyone is glad to see. Welcome newcomers and be curious about senior staffers’ latest projects.

2. Start with small kindnesses.

You know, the little things – hold the door open for a colleague or answer the phone when the admin is away or very busy. Refill the copy paper tray. Make fresh coffee. Share a worthwhile link or article with everyone, even the office malcontent. For many more examples, read The Power of Small by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.

3.  Fill in for your boss.

Give the gift of time. Take over for a week so she can really get a vacation or finish a huge project uninterrupted. Or work the holiday shifts no one wants. Offer to take over for the manager who’s out on medical leave. Yes, you’ll end up with twice as much work for a week or three, but you’ll also prove your talents as a leader. And it’s huge kick of karma.

4. Clean up the office kitchen.

If you’re like me, you hate this task – and the people who leave dirty dishes for days That’s why you gain gobs of karma if you clean it all up and don’t ask for recognition for your dish-pan hands.  If you truly cannot lift a sponge, then stock the kitchen with all sorts of snacks and treats – dried fruits, trail mix, boxes of cereal, fresh fruit.

5.  Be a connector.

Share your connections freely. Introduce recent graduates and old friends to the head of HR or the manager who must fill a dozen temporary jobs by Jan. 1. Share job openings with your social networks. Agree to the 20- or 30-minute networking coffee or informational interview. If you do that a few times a week it could qualify as your volunteer work, says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O’Clock Club, a career coaching organization.

6.  Feed the crew.

Bring in muffins or bagels once a week. Or offer a spontaneous sweet treat: flavored popcorn, chocolates, a box of clementines. If you and your coworkers prefer the healthy treats, stock up on darker colored grapes, oranges, dried goji berries, suggests Sharon Greenspan, owner of Wild Success. Or bring in something you just discovered at the Farmers Market. (see more sweet treats ideas on my post at GlassDoor)

7. Bring a meal to a crazed colleague.

I still recall the times a colleague at Newsday brought me a plate of food because he saw I wouldn’t have time to get up and get it myself. It felt like the best thing that had happened to me and as warm as a sauna in a South Beach resort. So use your Groupon or two for one coupons to bring lunch or dinner to some overworked coworker on deadline. Just make sure you know if they prefer veggie, vegan or meat meals.

8.   Pass along praise. Deliver good news.

Recognize others successes, small and big. Acknowledge the extra efforts of your peers, your boss, anyone who works with you. As Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg say in their book Effective Immediately: coworkers love to hear you say “You did a great job on that!” or “You look nice today.” And  “bosses love good news.”   It’s also great to really pass along praise – when you hear someone’s work lauded in a management meeting, share that with her.

9.  Serve as the office medic.

Stock up on aspirin, cough drops, antacids and maybe a little first aid cream. Add a few bandages and some Vitamin C. Then place these large bottles on your desk or a prominent shelf beneath a sign that proclaims their availability for anyone.

10. Appreciate the little people.

Send an effusive email to the admin who helped you so much and make sure you copy her boss. Take an extra minute to chat with the security guard or receptionist and find out about their family or interests. Leave the janitor a thank you note – or a holiday tip or gift. Thank the intern for their assistance and offer a recommendation or some mentoring. Who knows? One of those people could be your next boss or the person who comes to your aid when your laptop or your tire blows up.

I know I’ve missed many good ways to cultivate karma and kindness – so please share your ideas and actions. And if this sounds like a lot to do all at once, pick one thing – or even one day of the work week – as your karma creator. Then consider it an investment in your future.

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