You’re good at your job. And on top of that, you’re conscientious, polite, and deadline-oriented. You show up on time every day. Your long-term professional goals are well-defined, and you work toward them consistently.
But, surrounded by similarly high-achieving colleagues, these attributes may not be enough to make you stand out—especially if you’re employed by a large organization.
You may think you have to brainstorm news initiatives or overhaul old systems to get noticed. But small actions can be impactful, too—in a fraction of the time. Here are five options to that you can try today:
1. Offer to Take on New Projects
Lending a helping hand—before someone has to ask you—makes you look proactive and team-oriented. So, instead of waiting to possibly be recruited for additional responsibilities, offer to take them on at the get-go.
Don’t let the fact that it’s not your project or your usual team get in your way. If you need to learn new skills, all the better. Stretching yourself helps you build experience and increases your value within the company.
Make the Offer
“Hi [Co-worker’s Name]. I noticed I have some free time in my schedule this week. Are there any projects I can lend a hand on?”
2. Provide a Specific Example
Providing specific examples shows that you’re actively engaged and can help you make your points. For example, when you skip “Great job, earlier,” in favor of “I thought the additional point you made about the marketing strategy was really insightful,” it proves you were listening.
Additionally, when presenting an idea to a colleague or boss, referencing specific examples in your conversation shows that you’ve given the issue serious thought and considered the idea’s real-world impact.
Explain Your Point
“I think doing this would be especially helpful when employees have to [insert company process or procedure here] and could help [insert example of how your idea would impact a regular daily event].”
3. Speak Up at Company Meetings
You may not always have specific examples or data that jumps to mind. That’s OK. The willingness to put yourself out—and say something—carries enormous weight. Not only that, but simply speaking up is likely to make your attendance more memorable. (Assuming, of course, that you’re adding to the conversation and not being a distraction or repetitive.)
Feel free to offer your own opinions, and if you’re stuck on something new to say to add, amplify a co-worker’s point by agreeing.
“I agree with [Co-worker’s Name] idea to modify the reporting model. I think what we’re doing now has been effective, but there may be a more efficient way to get this done.*
4. Get in the Mindset to Hear Constructive Feedback
Constructive is the operative word here. Criticism stings, so it’s human nature to initially fear or turn away from it.
But to identify areas for growth, you’ll need to listen instead. Then ask yourself—honestly—if there’s any merit to the other person’s points.
For example, if you were told you haven’t been meeting deadlines, you could objectively look back and see that, yes, you have blown through the last three out of four due dates. That recognition’s the first step in resolving that issue. From there, you could set calendar reminders, start the work early, and plan micro-deadlines to stay on track.
“Feedback’s going to help me identify areas for growth so I can keep excelling at my job. I’m capable of hearing the other person out and not getting defensive.”
5. Improve Your Emails
Any time you’re preparing to submit an email, ask yourself if there’s anything that could be better. I’m not talking about actually including the attachment and proofing it for typos. Those steps are great, and I bet you already do them. (Not so sure? Here’s a reminder of the basic email rules.)
But spend these find minutes making it better overall: Is it clear what the purpose of that document is? Is all the appropriate information there? Is anything missing?
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to quickly decide if more details need to be added, or if you’re good to go.
“If I was receiving this, what else would I want to know?”
As you read each of these ideas, you may’ve noted that following through on them—actually completing that project you offered to help with, making changes based on feedback—will take more than five minutes. But that’s a good thing. Often the hardest part is getting started, and each of these steps make a good impression—and give you a launch point to do even better.
It will take effort. But your readiness to go above and beyond at work effectively changes the game and ups your ante!