A wise person once said it is better to regret something you did than something you didn't do. This definitely holds true for getting ahead in your career, it is almost always better to fail reaching for your goals than it is to be stewing in the same role. However, an even wiser person once said that it is better to regret something you did staying true to your work style than something you did to be a kiss ass that wants to get ahead.
The latter of those wise people knows the difference between standing out at work and doing it well. The old adage "there is no such thing as bad publicity" does NOT apply to your office. So here are 8 ways to make sure you're not the wallflower nor the boss's pet when it comes time for promotions:
1. Be the ultimate team player
Unless you are on Project Runway, the people you are working with should not be treated like they are your direct competition. Even if your peers are up for the same promotion as you, prove that you are always a team player first. Does your coworker need help finishing that expense report? Help them. The possible benefit of you helping them and word getting back to your boss far outweighs the possible detriment of your coworkers asking for help and you refusing because it isn't "part of your job description"... and that possibly getting back to your boss.
2. Come early, stay late, wear a smile
They say half of success is just showing up, and in this case it is almost all it takes to give you an edge. Showing that you are committed to the job can be as simple as being the first face your boss sees in the morning and the last face they see when they leave the office. And don't look like you were forced to be there because somebody threatened to cancel your Netflix account if you left early, s-m-i-l-e. Be the bubbly, committed employee that your boss wishes your coworkers were more like.
3. Ask questions, just not stupid ones
Your 2nd grade teacher was lying, there is such a thing as a stupid question, but that shouldn't deter you from asking questions at all. When you are assigned with a task, show that you have thought critically about what it is asking you to do. Don't just ask questions to ask questions, everybody has hated that person since they made high school English go into lunch period. However, often employees who have been at a job a long time accept certain assignments or protocols because "that's just how things are done around here." Don't be afraid to question these things if they don't seem like they are constructive to pushing the companies' goals forward. Don't think that the system for onboarding a new client is efficient? Question it. Show that you don't accept the status quo.
4. Develop side projects, but don't be a lone ranger
Bosses always want to see an employee that is looking to create their own projects simply because they are driven. Just because somebody may not have asked you to do something, does not mean it wouldn't be an enormous help if you took it upon yourself. Just don't embark on these above and beyond projects alone, encourage coworkers to join the project with you. That way you aren't just some rogue overachiever trying to get ahead of your peers, you are the inspiration for your peers to take on projects outside of their job description. Any boss would love to have a natural leader like that on their team. Leave the flying solo act for Beyonce.
5. Don't be above the lowest person on the totem pole
Almost every job has a pecking order and people always notice when somebody doesn't respect it. When you started out you were probably the person who had to go on the coffee runs or dig through the office mail, just because you've moved up in the world, doesn't mean you shouldn't embrace your humble beginnings. If you offer to go get the team coffee, ask your peers and underlings, not just your superior. You will undoubtedly earn points. Humility is important to understanding any role, even a managing position. So show that you're different from the snob who's above doing the little things. WWCD. What would Cinderella do?
6. Seek out the unassuming mentor
It is always good to seek out mentors at your job, and it is even better when you pick somebody that may not be an obvious choice. Almost everybody will try to be getting on the boss's calendar to get in some face time, so try and think of somebody different that you can see yourself looking up to. Mentors are most likely to root for somebody they have in their corner and the big boss already has everybody in their corner, so ask for advice from other people you respect. Those are people that are going to appreciate you thinking outside the box and end up going out of their way to put in a good word on your behalf.
7. Get to know the people you are working with
If you work extremely hard then you probably spend more of your time with your coworkers than anybody else in your life. Sure the office is a place of business, but it is important to build a personal rapport with your peers and your superiors. Even if you go above and beyond when it comes to your work, you may be holding yourself back simply because you're not liked as a person. Make an effort to get to know the people who are working for you as well as the people you are working for. Ask how they are doing, congratulate them on their newborn, do your best to remember personal details they tell you about themselves, etc. All of these will establish you as well liked for both your work ethic and your caring demeanor. Remember, sharing is caring.
8. Don't be afraid to be the guinea pig
A lot of people are so afraid of screwing up at work that they miss out on a lot of opportunities. Even if you just started a job, don't be timid about speaking up in group meetings or raising your hand for the project that everybody is terrified to take on. In other words, don't be afraid to have some serious balls. Of course you may fail along the way, but it shows that you are wiling to take risks and are confident in your skills. Don't be the person that sits in the back of the conference room waiting for somebody else to speak up and sound stupid, people rarely get promoted simply because the other candidates suck more. Unless you're running for President, then that's exactly how it works.
Published by Dagney Pruner