À l’échelle humaine: February 1, 2017
What’s the best way to distinguish yourself from your competition? That’s the question we’re tackling in our latest series of columns. Last time we provided you with a list of LinkedIn tips to help you stand out on online. This week we’re focusing on the workplace. You’re employed, you’re ambitious, and you’ve decided you want more; practicing the right behaviour at work can help you make your mark in a positive way.
Stand out at Work: The Power of Observation
There are many reasons that motivate us to try to stand out in the workplace: building goodwill, asking for a raise, or readying for a promotion are common examples. As an experienced employee you likely already know how to go about earning it: hard work. But what if you were also able to work smarter, and ensure your hard work was being put to good use? Observing and listening to key stakeholders in the workplace can help you pinpoint where to focus your efforts, and ensure you’re setting yourself apart for all the right reasons.
Let’s look at a sample scenario.
Your manager is working on a major project, and delegates some of the project’s tasks to you. You’ve noticed that your manager is detail-oriented and frequently uses email to keep everyone on the project in the loop. You, by contrast, are more of a “big picture” person, and typically only touch base when a task has been successfully completed. How do you go about setting yourself apart in a positive way?
The priority, of course, is ensuring that all of the tasks you’ve been delegated are completed successfully. This can be done in your characteristic “big picture” fashion. But how can you go the extra mile?
The answer lies in what you’ve learned and observed from your manager. Chances are that a detail-oriented manager who sends frequent updates would appreciate it if their employees did the same. So by mirroring their behaviour, your boss will likely have more confidence in your performance. You are adapting your work method to show you are a team player, and by the same token you are reassuring them that they can trust you.
Our sample scenario focused on your manager. But they’re not the only key stakeholder in your workplace. Connected co-workers, respected business leaders and key executives all have the ability to influence your workplace, whether formally or informally. By listening and observing you can determine what matters most to them, and you can be intentional and strategic in your efforts to make a positive impact.
Let’s go back to the original scenario. What if you got the job done but you didn’t adhere to your manager’s style, or simply never noticed their preferences? While you were working they may have requested frequent updates, questioned you on the finer points, or felt stressed during the process. Although your tasks were still completed, you likely wouldn’t see the recognition you’re looking for from your manager.
By listening to our stakeholders we can learn how to best to satisfy them. Tell them what they want to hear, and soon you’ll be doing the same.
Stay tuned for more tips on standing out; our next column appears in two weeks.