But remarkable employees also help themselves succeed, both for selfish reasons and because their success creates success for others.
Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Do you want to stand out based on go, not show? Here are some great ways:
1. Be first, but with a purpose.
Many people try to be the first to arrive each day. That’s great, but what do you do with that time? Organize your thoughts? Get a jump on email?
Instead of taking care of your stuff, do something visibly worthwhile for the company. Take care of unresolved problems from the day before. Set things up so it’s easier for other employees to hit the ground running when they come in. Chip away at a project others ignore.
Don’t just be the one who turns the lights on. Be the one who gets in early to get things done. Not only will your performance stand out, but you’ll also start to …
2. Master a specific—and valuable—skill.
Meeting standards, however lofty, won’t help you stand out.
Go above the norm. Be the leader who turns around struggling employees. Be the shipping manager who makes a few deliveries a week to personally check in with customers. Be the vice president who promotes from within. Be the employee who responds quicker, acts faster, always follows up.
Pick a mission and excel at it. People will notice.
3. Create side projects.
Excelling at an assigned project is expected. Excelling at a side project—especially one you created-helps you stand out.
Years ago I decided to create a Web-based employee handbook my employer could put on the intranet. I worked on it at home on my own time. Some managers liked it, but the HR manager didn’t, so it died an inglorious death.
I was disappointed, but the company wasn’t out anything, and soon after I was selected for a high-visibility, company-wide process-improvement team because my little project had made me “that guy.”
Try it. Experiment on a new process or service with a particular customer in mind. The customer will appreciate your trying—without being asked—to better meet his or her needs. No one will forget you.
4. Put your effort where your mouth is.
A lot of people take verbal stands. Few put actual effort behind their opinions.
You think a project has gone off the rails. Instead of pointing out its flaws so you can show how smart you are, jump in and help fix it.
Everyone talks about problems. The people who fix problems stand out.
5. Show a little of your personal side.
Personal interests help others know and remember you. That’s a huge advantage for a new employee or a company competing in a crowded market.
Make sure your personal interests don’t overshadow professional accomplishments. Being “the guy who does triathlons” is fine, but being “the guy who is always training and traveling to triathlons so we can never reach him when we need him” is not.
Let people know a little about you; a few personal details add color and depth to your professional image. Plus, it makes you a lot more likeable.
6. Work harder than everyone else.
Nothing substitutes for hard work. Sure, you can also work smarter, but why not do both?
Look around. How many people work as hard as they can? Very few.
One way you always stand out regardless of talent, experience or skill is by outworking everyone. This is also the surest way to stand out, because I guarantee you’ll be the only one trying that hard.
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