Reliability Skills: Their Importance and How to Prove Them

Being reliable makes your life easier — and your manager’s, too. It’s a win-win.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a group of people and large pawns on a chess board

Regardless of industry, a worker’s skill set consists of both technical and soft skills. While technical skills, like how to use specific software, can be taught on the job, soft skills are a little trickier to train or measure. That’s because they largely revolve around the individual’s behaviors and attitudes. It’s simply more straightforward to teach someone how to use a machine than how to become a team player in a day, right?

However, soft skills are just as important as hard skills in a person’s career advancement — or even more important, some might argue!

In this article, we’ll be focusing on a particularly sought-after soft skill: that of reliability. So, here’s everything you need to know about the importance of reliability at work and how you can become a more reliable employee.

Why is being reliable at work important?

Demonstrating reliability in the workplace can give employees several advantages over colleagues who don’t. Let’s look at the five main ones below:

1. It improves your work relationships

A team member who is reliable will appear a lot more worthy of trust and respect than someone who behaves or performs inconsistently. And since trust and respect are fundamental components of healthy relationships, this can lead to significantly less friction in the workplace. Who wouldn’t want that, right?

Estimates tell us that the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over the course of their life. So, it goes without saying that the better your relationship with your coworkers is, the happier you’re going to be overall.

2. It can open new doors

When an employee is reliable, they’re more likely to be noticed for their work ethic. This is especially important at a time of global economic uncertainty, when even small raises can mean the difference between survival and ruin.

But reliability does more than get you noticed. It helps people remember you. Even if a colleague moves on to a different company, your dependability and consistency will stay with them. So, when they hear about a new position in your field, they’ll be a lot more likely to pass you the details or refer you.

3. It can lead to a promotion

Career advancement plays a vital role in how satisfied we feel with our jobs. Without it, a role can get stagnant, and we may begin to feel as though our efforts are going unnoticed or unappreciated. All this can be detrimental to our mental health.

Though it’s not uncommon for people to go “pulling some strings” when looking to land a job or promotion, there’s a different sense of accomplishment that comes when you earn it alone. And since reliability has a positive influence on your performance and work relationships, working on enhancing it can take you places.

4. It boosts your confidence

Being able to take pride in our work and personal development is among the most satisfying feelings we can experience. Aside from the sense of reward, the better we feel about ourselves, and the more recognition we receive from others, the more faith we develop in our ability.

In and out of work, confidence can lead to a higher degree of mental resilience. This results in a more positive outlook and a can-do attitude. Where a less confident person sees an intimidating challenge, a resilient person sees an opportunity to find solutions.

5. It inspires those around you

Reliability is one of those qualities we can recognize in others that make us say: “Hey, that’s something I’d like to mimic!”

Regardless your position or seniority, being reliable gives your coworkers reason to think highly of you. This can encourage them to work on themselves or come to you for advice, which can be incredibly rewarding.

If you’re in a leadership position, the most effective way to lead is by example. Demonstrating the qualities that you want to see in your staff can encourage their best behavior.

How to show you’re reliable at work

Reliability consists of different components, all of which can be learned or worked on individually. Here’s how you can demonstrate reliability at work:

1. Work methodically

Working methodically means having a plan that works for you and structuring your days around it. It means recognizing your productivity patterns across the day and the workweek, setting realistic goals, and minimizing distractions.

When all of this gets implemented, a high level of consistency at work can be achieved. And when everyone on the team knows what to expect from you, both in terms of behavior and quality of work produced, they’ll know they can rely on you.

2. Hold yourself accountable

Relying on someone means allowing yourself to be vulnerable with them. If you rely on someone to have a task completed by a certain date, for example, with your own work depending on it, you’re trusting them to do their part.

Now, how eagerly would you place your trust in the hands of someone who always comes up with excuses or shifts the blame around? Not very much, right? Taking ownership and admitting mistakes is, therefore, crucial when you want to become more reliable.

3. Be punctual

Arriving to work on time and getting to meetings early are excellent ways of demonstrating reliability. After all, if you can’t be relied on to get to places by a certain time, how can you be trusted with bigger things?

Punctuality communicates that you take your work seriously and respect everyone else’s time. While the first enhances your credibility on an individual level, the latter is of benefit in any interpersonal setting where smooth collaboration with others is needed.

4. Stick to your deadlines

Being reliable means being able to follow through on your commitments. Though productivity naturally fluctuates for everyone, having a solid track record in the workplace will work in your favor.

If you’re unsure how to work on this, start by considering your organizational, prioritization and time management ability. Making use of lists, timers and reminders on your phone can help you streamline your process.

Just as importantly, you must start saying “no” when you need to, if you don’t already! Overbooking yourself will only set you up for failure, burnout or a miserable combination of both.

5. Offer solutions

Whether in our personal or professional lives, mistakes are bound to happen, and so are sudden, unanticipated changes. While, undoubtedly, some things are up to us to predict and prevent, we’ll still be faced with undesirable circumstances from time to time. That’s why problem-solving skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure are good to have.

Demonstrating these two abilities in the workplace will allow people to depend on you more easily. Usually, the more developed an individual’s emotional intelligence, the more controlled and precise their actions in the face of a crisis.

Top skills that demonstrate reliability

Anyone looking to become more reliable in the workplace can do so by broadening their skill set to include the following:

1. Time management

When you’re good at managing your time, juggling several tasks at once becomes easier. And when staying on top of your game becomes easier, your output becomes consistent. This is vital in demonstrating reliability.

Setting realistic time limits and minimizing multitasking is a good place to start in making the most out of your working hours. Another thing that can be beneficial is paying attention to your energy levels throughout the day. If your brain works faster in the morning, for example (and please do tell us your secret), getting on with your most demanding tasks then would make the most sense.

2. Prioritization

If you can’t prioritize your tasks effectively, you can end up unnecessarily stressed and sabotaging your own performance. That’s not something you want when working on building your reliability!

It’s important that you always rank your daily, weekly and monthly tasks by urgency, taking into account how long each will take to complete. Remember to start early where you can and divide each task into subtasks so that you can keep track of your progress.

3. Teamwork

Building this interpersonal skill is essential in demonstrating reliability. After all, why would a coworker or manager place their trust in you if your actions suggest that you’re only in it for yourself?

The better you become at working as part of a group, the less your coworkers will hesitate to depend on you. To do this, you can work on building your confidence and self-compassion to the point where you’re able to admit mistakes, apologize when you need to, and give credit where it’s due.

4. Decision making

Methodical decision making is an excellent skill to have in the workplace. When people work for you or with you, your thorough, rational thinking will play a vital role in how they perceive you.

Having your own way of putting things into perspective, considering the whole picture, and managing your emotions when making decisions is essential in achieving a consistent output. This, in turn, can result in being assigned meaningful, high-stakes projects and being asked for your input on broader company matters.

5. Communication

When you’re able to listen actively and communicate well in different ways (that’s verbally, non-verbally and in writing), your credibility as a professional goes up. That’s because effective communication is at the foundation of any positive interaction.

In the workplace, finding the right words to say can help you set boundaries, exchange ideas, and provide feedback in a mindful manner. The better you get at doing that, and at “reading” people’s responses, the easier they’ll find it to depend on you.

Key takeaways

Though each of us may have a different answer to what it takes to be happy at work, there are some things we can agree on. These are: being shown appreciation for our work, having good relations with (at least some of) our coworkers, progressing professionally, and having a healthy work–life balance. What’s interesting is that all these things become more attainable when we increase our reliability at work!

To summarize, these are the main points we covered in this article:

  • Reliability is a sought-after soft skill that can open the door to bigger, better opportunities.
  • Working on your intrapersonal and interpersonal skills is an excellent way of enhancing your reliability as a professional.
  • Being a reliable employee doesn’t entail saying “yes” to everything; what it does entail is recognizing and communicating your limitations.
  • Relying on other members of your team is one of the best ways to inspire them to rely on you.

Can you think of any other tips on becoming more reliable in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Originally published on August 12, 2014.