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Just as businesses seek continuous improvement as they strive to be the best, the same is important to personal career success. John Hayes, COO of Ball Corporation has some good thoughts along these lines. I have recast them for an employee perspective.

1.  Join the right team. Every employee must pull their own weight. Non-performers must find a new home. Stay away from teams where slackers are tolerated.

2.  Find a way to look ahead and operate smoothly. Nothing will improve if you are constantly fighting fires.

3.  Join a company whose managers are involved in daily operations. It is not possible to run an effective business from an office.

4.  Measure yourself first by peers that are moving ahead and then by people who are where you want to be. Don't be too proud to use those people as an example. Try to develop a mentor relationship with someone senior to you who can advise you in your efforts to contribute meaningfully to the company's success.

5.  Don't accept or use excuses. Excuses stop progress.

6.  Think beyond normal acceptance. High expectations lead to high results.

7.  Everything you do must be measured to some degree. You can't improve if you don't know what is broken.

8.  Set clear goals and priorities. Have a plan to achieve your goals that contains meaureable milestones. Then measure yourself against your plan. Review your goals, priorities, and plan periodically to be sure they are still appropriate.

9.  Never accept phrases like, "That's the way it's always been."  Such phrases are another barrier to progress.

10.  Be involved. Share ideas and best practices. In general, don't hold to a not-invented-here attitude.


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