You want to stand out from the rest of the people that you work with – and maybe you do. But you know that there have to be ways to really go above and beyond the norm without being a brown noser (you don’t want to carry that reputation around with you, trust me).
Every business has those employees that do a good job, that show up on time, get their work done and then go home quietly at the end of the day. Then there are great employees who go out of their way once in a while to make an extra added effort to do something really extraordinarily well. You don’t want to be like them, though; you want more. Here’s how to get it.
A memorable personality can take you a long way in your career. Maybe you have a great personality to begin with – you never have any trouble making friends at work, you crack some jokes, you’re friendly with your boss. But that’s not enough to be a standout employee.
Be different, be weird. How do you act at home? Do you dance around in your underwear singing Mariah Carey songs into your hairbrush when no one is looking? I don’t recommend doing that, exactly, in your office (no one really likes you enough to want to see your underwear), but let that side of your personality show through. Obviously you’re a fun-loving person who doesn’t care what anyone thinks when no one is around, but let the same be true in a room full of people. Be totally yourself.
Your quirkiness will make you memorable. Just don’t let it go over the top and you’ll be fine. Plus, your bosses might appreciate some added humor, and they’ll definitely enjoy seeing someone who’s comfortable enough around them to completely be themselves. Know when to turn it off, though. When it’s time to be serious and get things done quickly, know when to do so.
Asking questions will not only show that you’re interested in whatever conversation or presentation that’s going on around you, but it will prove to your bosses and co-workers that you are interested in learning more about what you do.
Asking questions that go above and beyond your own personal job duties is a double bonus. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who works above you and ask a question about what they do or ask for their advice on something. As long as you don’t make it sound like you’re asking because you want their job, people are generally happy to talk about themselves and what they do.
Make the effort to learn as much as you possibly can about your job and the jobs that are above yours. It will show an extra effort on your part and a willingness and eagerness to learn, which are attractive qualities to any boss or business owner.
Handle Criticism with Grace
Your boss comes into your office and wants to talk to you about a recent report you filed that he has some issues with. He doesn’t like the tone it was written in and he doesn’t like the formatting. Do you: a.) break down and cry? b.) run out of the room as quickly as humanly possible to avoid your boss? or c.) take what he or she has to say and use it to make yourself better in the future?
The correct answer is obviously C, although it’s difficult for many people to handle criticism well. No one likes to hear that something they spent a significant amount of time on isn’t up to standards, but how you handle it says a lot about who you are as a professional. Take criticism gracefully and use it to improve your skills in the future.
Remember what it is your employer is criticizing you for and understand that they’re probably not doing it to attack your work, but to let you know that things can be done better the next time. So, do them better next time!
Treat the “Little People” With Respect
Getting to know and being friendly with “the help” is always a good idea in any business or professional setting. This includes anyone from janitors and custodians and the guys who clean the windows to secretaries and assistants of yourself or others.
It’s all about building positive relationships with everyone in the office – and that should even include the people who tend to get taken advantage of and taken for granted in a work setting. Say hello to the doorman every morning on your way in. Thank the janitors if they empty your trash can while you’re sitting at your desk.
Your employers will see and appreciate your friendliness and your general appreciation of the little work that’s done around you while you’re performing your own duties. Everyone is there for the same reason – with the hopes of making some money, bettering themselves and hopefully taking a step forward in their careers, whether it’s in custodianship or managerial practices. Be respectful and courteous to everyone in the office.
Don’t Get Involved in Gossip
One of the worst qualities to possess as an employee is an enjoyment for gossip. Office gossip, in particular, only leads to bad relationships with people and hard feelings that aren’t necessary toward people you may not even know.
Not involving yourself in office gossip shows your employer that you are honest and can be trusted. You don’t go around spreading rumors and talking about other people behind their backs in hopes that it will get you ahead. Spread the honesty to your bosses – every time you talk to them, be honest. Don’t ever lie. Honesty is a great quality appreciated by everyone.
Above all else, know what your job is and why you’re there. Obviously the company hired you for a reason, so fulfill your duties, always be on time and understand that the work is never done. There is always something more that you can do, and by acknowledging that and being willing to work harder than anyone else in your office, you’ll really set yourself apart from the masses of other employees.
Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer who has worked in corporate settings for many years. She has worked in offices with everything from great bosses to terrible bosses, the most high tech equipment and customized logo mats to holes in the wall and the best co-workers ever and the worst co-workers imaginable. She encourages everyone to understand their company’s “personality” and how they conduct business and try to fit in with it as best they can.