Being creative and finding opportunities to shine on the job is an important skill you need to have if you want to move up the career ladder.
It’s easy to just show up and do the work and forget that there are other ways to signal to your boss that you are ready to take on a bigger role in the company. Often times just being “good” at your job is not enough. Those who stand out are employees that advance quicker than their peers.
If you don’t want to seem like a tool to your workmates you will need to show your value and abilities without appearing to be out to make others look bad, you need to work smarter not necessarily harder.
1) Take More Risks in Your Work
It might seem like the safe thing to do, not to take risks to try new things at work, but toeing the line might be what’s keeping you from being noticed. If you are willing to risk failure, you might also risk being noticed.
Elon Musk said, “There’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.”
Stop trying to cover yourself and start looking for opportunities to move the company forward. Your reward for standing out and trying to innovate will outweigh the risk of failing.
2) Organize Informal Think Tanks
You can continue to inspire this innovative thinking by organizing informal lunches or coffee times where you bring together people who want to work on a problem outside of the scope of the day-to-day work.
Maybe you see an internal problem to solve or have a solution for some area of the work that if you had time you might just find a solution.
Tell a few of your coworkers that you want to hold a “power lunch”.
Have them come gather with you over lunch in a room conducive to focused conversation and pose some problem you have been curious about solving. Or invite a guest speaker in person or via video to discuss what’s new in the industry and have a discussion about what you learned.
This type of conversation will help you to be seen as a leader and build value in your company as well.
3) Create Mentorships with New Employees
When you see younger or newer team members join a company, don’t wait for an official opportunity to support them. Take the initiative to show them how things work.
Don’t try to indoctrinate them with office politics, just be a resource for them to help them to adjust to your company’s culture. Helping newer members in a company to do their best is a great way to get noticed because you are adding value to someone your boss perhaps spent time recruiting.
Having an honest interest in their success will make your boss and the new employee shine.
When they succeed they help the company do better and thus create more opportunities for everyone.
4) Avoid Watercooler Banter
It’s easy to fall prey to the chatter of disgruntled co-workers that are looking for allies when they talk about what’s going wrong in their opinion. You might have similar feelings, but sitting around talking about it is a good way to be seen as the person to avoid in the office.
It might be difficult to not be around these scenarios but when you notice them, try changing the subject or find somewhere else to be.
Not creating a negative environment will help you see the opportunities at work rather than the problems. Just by helping a new coworker, it will help you appreciate them rather than resent their talents, or advancement if it happens quickly. They will see you as a positive force in the company and not the person that brings the room down.
5) Practice Saying No
Not only do you want to practice saying no to the water cooler conversations and negativity, but you might have to also practice saying no to taking on too much. When you start to be more visible on the job because you seem to be coming up in conversations with your supervisor or boss more often, resist the urge to say yes to everything.
Once you are standing out, you will want to avoid the habit of always agreeing to take on more work. Be reasonable with your capacity and let them know your limitations.
If you feel you need to focus on your work so that you can deliver with a high degree of success and have room to fail without losing productivity, it won’t help to be stressed out and “overworked”.
I know it might be counter-intuitive to say no, but if you are a person that likes to please people you can easily get in over your head and not be able to contribute in the other areas that bring value while doing your job well.
Don’t avoid taking on extra tasks or work, but be clear about your boundaries so that you can continue to be a true asset and not burn out before you get a chance to ascend to a role you are ready to take on.
Getting noticed is about delivering consistent value. Hard work and consistency are important but so is contributing to the overall health of the company.
Don’t think that you will get ahead in a company by being a person that puts down others or stomps on their success. Instead, be the person recognized by lifting up others. You will ultimately advance to higher positions because you are a real leader and the natural choice.
Conversely, if you happen to be in the wrong company, you’ll be more likely to figure it out sooner so you can move on and avoid disappointment down the road.