Remember that one classmate that rivaled a walking encyclopedia? You know the one; aced all their exams, probably went to bed with their hand still raised in the air, and instead of drawing what they wanted to be when they grew up (like the assignment asked), they turned up with a super cool paper-mâché astronaut that would make a perfect piñata for your next birthday party. While you sat at your desk stewing with jealousy, this kid was raking in all the praise, golden stars, and Tootsie Rolls you could ever dream of.
While being dubbed the class brown-noser may have seemed lame as a child, adopting this teacher’s pet mentality as an adult can prove to have a positive effect on your career. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you start parading around the office like you’ve suddenly inherited Beyoncé’s swagger. Don’t be that guy. You’ll only attract negative attention. Instead, try summoning your inner Hermione Granger to show your employer why you are such a valuable asset to the team.
Whether you are looking to move up the ladder or you simply want to make an impact at a new job, here’s how to go above the call of duty to truly make an impression on your boss.
Speak Up & Get Creative
From how to improve a particular process to ways to spread brand awareness, companies are looking for employees that are creative problem-solvers. Don’t be afraid to innovate. Voicing your vision and ideas to your boss may very well precipitate changes that generate revenue, increase efficiency, and boost internal morale. Those who effectuate change are the individuals that can fully visualize their ideas being executed and are able put a proposed strategy on paper. It’s one thing to recommend a new software or way to revamp an outdated procedure, but it’s another to map out a plan for how you foresee your idea being implemented.
Embrace Opportunities to Grow
Complacency is a career killer. Much too often, employees fall into the pattern of showing up to their 9 to 5, eyes glazed over, completing their daily tasks like a cog in the wheel, with no motivation to strive for more. The standout employee, however, is constantly seeking ways to better themselves and move up the proverbial career ladder. One way to do this is to proactively work on expanding your breadth of skills – whether that be through reading, signing up for online courses, or seeking out a mentor.
Another way show your boss the value you place in professional development is by leveraging feedback. Feedback can come in all shapes & sizes. It could be a comment from a colleague after you give a presentation, a formal performance review, or even a passing remark from your manager about how you pitched a product to a customer. Rather than letting feedback swim in one ear and out the other, use constructive criticism as a means to improve upon yourself. Not only will your boss begin to notice and reward your efforts, but you’ll enjoy the perks of an improved performance as well.
Who doesn’t love those viral stories about employees rising above their job description to serve up a dish of heartwarming customer service? Remember the Starbucks barista who learned sign language so she could communicate with her deaf customer? Her, along with countless other companies and individuals, have wormed their way into the hearts of the Twitterverse with their unexpected, inventive, and inspiring commitment to their jobs.
You too can take action within reason – a.k.a. don’t use the company’s AMEX card to perform some grand, expensive gesture without permission. There are plenty of ways you can invest your time to elevate the customer experience or help a coworker who may be drowning in support tickets. Exceeding expectations could also mean volunteering to organize an upcoming philanthropic event or staying a half hour late to do some extra competitive research before your department meeting the next day. When you make the effort to go beyond your basic responsibilities, you will begin to emerge as a leader among your coworkers and your boss will certainly be impressed.
Merely showing up isn’t enough to become a standout employee. Evolving as an employee and progressing in your career requires you to transcend your basic duties and make a genuine effort to always challenge yourself. Be the teacher’s pet, but be an authentic rendition of one. Stepping on coworkers and using any means necessary to get to the top will only come back and bite you in the butt one day. True success stories come from those employees who are not only invested in their own development, but are also passionate about the success of their team and company.