How To Stand Out – Part 2

In one of my first jobs, we had a organizational culture that pushed the importance of meetings. One meeting after the other and all the paperwork to go with it (e.g. agendas, notes, minutes, etc).

Of course, nobody wanted to do the paperwork. Since I was a very junior staff member, I was told to do all the boring stuff. And since I wanted to get rid of the boring stuff as soon as I could, I made sure that it got done immediately, so I could focus on the interesting jobs that I hoped would come my way. They didn’t. And the paperwork was mindnumbingly boring.

But after a few weeks, the director announced that he would be attending a conference in Paris and that he would take me along with him. There was quite an outcry in the meeting, because I was the most junior staff member, but the boss stated “I don’t actually know what Dirk’s job is, but whenever her does one of those jobs that nobody else wants to do, he does them really well and that’s what I need.” On that trip we talked about many things, among them my job. He always supported my career progression afterwards.

Do the small things well and notice what isn’t done well at the moment and take responsibility for doing that well.

Some other tips:

  • Speak up. People who offer well-thought-out advice and opinions are very rare in today’s workplace, because so many people are scared of being criticized, being shot down or having their ideas stolen. So, people who speak up, stand out and earn the respect and attention of their coworkers and their superiors.
  • Don’t make your boss wait. If you are late for a meeting – doesn’t that just mean that you think your schedule is more important than your his or hers? If you can’t get to a meeting on time, how likely is it that your boss will trust you to succeed in delivering an important project on time?
  • Also, treat boring tasks the same way you treat the choice assignments. Treat the small tasks as if they are as important as the big ones.
  • Always be prepared. Whenever you meet your boss, make sure that you have a pen and paper (or iPad or voice recorder) with you. Don’t ever go to a meeting empty handed. Make yourself useful and volunteer for the tasks that nobody wants to do.

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