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5 tips to improve your karma in the workplace

Karma isn’t a theory reserved for your personal life – many believe it has a strong impact on your work life as well. Here are five simple ways to do good things at work.


Karma in the workplace

While each religion has it’s own form of karma, today we are using the term in a general, non-religious sense to reference the good that you put out into this world, and the good you may receive. Many people are amazingly generous and kind outside of work, but when that office door opens and that threshold is crossed, those same kind people become hyper-competitive, and karma goes out of the window.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can be competitive and mindful of people around you, and there are some extremely simple ways you can improve your own karma at work.

1. Put it in writing

If you’re not the boss, every now and again, put your pen to the paper and send the big boss a note about someone who is doing good things. Remember when you called one of the other offices in your organization and the receptionist spent 10 minutes with you to resolve something when they could have patched you through to voicemail? Or what about when your graphic designer delivered something so much more amazing than you ever imagined and it was delivered early? Then, there was that time that you had to miss two days to travel to a funeral, and without asking, your team picked up the slack and made for a surprisingly seamless return?

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Put it in writing. Tell your company founder or CEO two or three times a year that there are amazing people they’ve brought on that make this a fantastic place to be.

2. Apologize. No, not like that.

You’re 30 minutes late to a pretty important meeting, and the standard is to take your seat and mumble an apology. But to really do the right thing, email the key players after the meeting with a sincere apology.

You failed to email someone back for two weeks because, let’s be honest, you’re procrastinating because it will take a major time commitment to respond. Start your email off with an apology, but do so meaningfully – note the exact failure, deliver with the full response, and assure them that two weeks is not an appropriate or normal response time.

More importantly, however, apologize for when you’re wrong. You left a comment on an industry blog or news site, and it turns out your opinion was formed without your reading the entire article. The writer may call you on it, and in most cases, you’ll want to defend yourself because you’re in public, but don’t – if you’re wrong, say that they’re right, you apologize, and you’ll read again and form a more educated response. And afterward, tweet the story for good measure.

3. Don’t fall in love with candidates

If you’re a manager or business owner, don’t fall in love with the first viable candidate that applies for a position. There is a lot of great talent out there, but if you jump at the first match, you may be bringing someone on that is not a perfect fit. Fall in love with four candidates. Four.

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When you have four to choose from, you’re not settling (which is unfair to you, and even more unfair to employees). When you meet the first candidate that is your dream candidate, although you must move quickly so they’re not snatched up by someone else, you can’t be the desperate dude in college who marries the first girl that says yes to a date with him. There’s no good karma in that.

4. Celebrate the little things

While some offices have entire committees devoted to birthday parties, and that’s great, I guess, there are more important things to celebrate that often go overlooked. Did a project get finished a day early? Celebrate! Did a major snafu get resolved? Celebrate.

This isn’t to say that every time someone meets a goal, you should have a kegger, it’s to say that you should celebrate the little things, learn from them, improve, and move forward with some pep in your step.

If you’re the boss, bring in some quality beer for an afternoon, or order the fattiest cupcakes you can get delivered. If you’re an employee without a budget, stop to celebrate your own accomplishments or acknowledge those around you who are kicking ass and taking names. Only focusing on the top accomplishments can lead to wear and tear on a team, so taking time to celebrate the little things can keep everyone motivated.

5. Never say what you can’t do

Make it a policy for yourself and your team to abolish the word “can’t.” How often do you call in to a call center for a simple question and all you’re told is “we can’t do that.” Don’t you want to throttle them and say, “then what CAN you do?”

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It’s not a common sense mentality to focus on telling people what you can do, rather, our culture is trained to simply rush through problems we don’t think we can solve. When a coworker asks for your help on a project and it isn’t something you’re equipped for, explain why you aren’t a good fit, but go the extra mile and tell them that you’ll help connect them with So And So who is. If a client approaches you with a problem that you don’t have the power or capacity to solve, tell them immediately what is within your power.

The takeaway

There are endless ways that employers and employees can make the workplace better, but by doing good on your own, independent of policies or mandates, you will see positive results returned to you. It’s the way of the world.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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