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6 Signs You're Good at Your Job, According to an HR Exec With Over 35 Years of Experience Here's what to look for so you can spend less time worrying.

By Emma Magnus

Key Takeaways

  • Michael Doolin has worked in HR for 36 years. He was an HR direct for PwC, British Airways and DPD.
  • He said employees often don't get the recognition or feedback they want from their bosses.
  • The HR veteran shares what signs employees can look for that suggest they are good at their jobs.
Clover HR via Business Insider
Michael Doolin has been in the HR industry for 36 years, working for multinational companies.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Michael Doolin, CEO of Clover HR and former HR director at PwC, British Airways, and DPD based in Ireland. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

After 36 years in HR, you realize a few things about people. I think 50% of the workforce come to do a good job and simply want a "Thank you" at the end of the day. Too many employers fail to recognize that simple acknowledgment can go a long way in keeping people engaged.

People don't always know where they stand at work regarding performance. Ambitious people focused on advancement will be looking for recognition daily. Subtle hints, like a boss inviting someone to lunch or spending more time with someone else, might generate a sense of inequality, which, at its extreme, can magnify feelings of stress, anxiety, and insecurity.

Performance management, like appraisals, should be done more regularly than once a year. It should be an ongoing debate between you and your boss. There's a great mantra from a previous boss of mine: there should be no surprises. To ensure that, employers should have discussions and performance reviews throughout the year.

For me, being good at your job is about how much you're growing, how much you're adding value, and how much you're recognized. If your boss isn't vocal about your performance, these are signs you're still performing well at work.

Working efficiently

The ease at which you can do your job — how challenging or awkward it might be — is a good indication of how you're performing. You might find that your emails are going down or you've got time at the end of the day, week, or month because you've overachieved.

Conversely, if you keep more paper in the bottom left-hand drawer because you haven't gotten to it, it may signal that you're underperforming.

That being said, having a never-ending inbox doesn't mean you're doing badly. Automate as much as possible and embrace technology and better practices. These are all signs of a proactive learner. Set up email rules so that you only see the things that are important.

Proper planning

Planning and prioritizing work is a sign that you're working well. Your boss shouldn't be getting any surprises. Leaving things to the last minute and giving rushed responses does not convey competency.

You might be giving frequent reports and updates, and you'll be showing up to work on time.

Positive feedback

If you're getting positive comments from colleagues, clients, and customers on work-related matters, it's a sign that you're doing something right.


One of the greatest indications of performance is how engaged you are at work, informally and formally. Engagement can be evidenced in a number of ways: attendance, appearance, collaboration with colleagues, emails going up or down, and general intellectual curiosity or participation in workplace meetings, gatherings, or conversations.

For an employer, getting to know your people and how they operate is crucial. It's underrated.

People operate differently when they're under pressure. Employers can identify those stress points if they have a better sense of that person's motivations and moods. The best way to do this is by spending time with them.

A work environment should not focus solely on the workplace. We need to remember that the individual is someone who brings unique talents. Therefore, seeing the person as a whole rather than only what they bring to their daily tasks is important — both for the employer and the employee.

Bringing solutions, not problems

If you're performing well at work, you're likely to come up with solutions, not problems. You might turn up to meetings armed with ideas that you've thought of and researched. Coming up with a solution that's well-evaluated is useful. And if you make a mistake, you'll acknowledge it and have a workaround.


An important sign that work is going well is if you're curious. You'll ask questions and be keen to learn. You might question internal processes, like why things are run a certain way, looking to remove roadblocks and create opportunities. This shows that you're inquisitive and that you want to add value.

Ask for feedback if you're still unsure

If you feel you need feedback, ask for it. Ask your line manager or supervisor: How am I doing? What do I do well? What do I not do well? Tell them you'd appreciate regular feedback, and suggest grabbing 15 minutes at the end of the day. This can be done informally.

Like running a race, you can always establish what your own PBs look like and create your own milestones, whether it's getting your inbox down to zero or taking on a new client. You can do this by keeping a workplace diary or setting your own KPIs.

Take some perspective, too. Many people focus on self-actualization in relation to their jobs instead of their lives. Don't just define your worth and status by your position at work. Consider what a good child, partner, parent, or friend you are.

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