You’ve worked in your organization awhile. You’ve done what’s been asked. You’ve made positive things happen.
You feel like it’s time to start positioning yourself for more responsibility — or the next position. You may be wondering:
"What can I do to stand out?"
If you don’t already feel like you are standing out, here are five positive ways to make it happen.
1. Think (and Act) Like Your Boss
One of the first questions we ask when serving a new team or organization is this:
"How is your success measured?"
That’s because we know that training and development activities ultimately should move numbers, else it’s of no real value to the organization.
You’re likely already aware of your own metrics and how to achieve those. Employees who stand out take Dale Carnegie’s advice to heart:
"Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view."
In addition to your own metrics, take the time and care to discover the metrics that your boss is measured on. Then, find ways to help them move their numbers, while still achieving your own.
2. Bring Solutions
Poor employees cause problems. Average employees report problems. Great employees solve problems.
Dale Carnegie said, “Weigh all the facts, then come to a decision.”
If you want to stand out, it’s not by doing a better job of reporting problems. At worst, it brands you as someone who’s great at delivering problems to others.
People who stand out examine problems, determine a solution, and then either take action themselves or come to the table with a solution. Doing that constantly demonstrates you can fix problems — something almost every employer seeks before handing over responsibility.
3. Beat the Metrics
Top management guru Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Good feelings, positive relationships, and strong networks are all great, but measurable results are the most powerful indicators of the future value you’ll provide to the organization.
Simply meeting your time, cost, and quality metrics is considered a minimum standard in many organizations. While meeting goals is appreciated, it won’t make you stand out.
Standing out means that you work to exceed the metrics that really matter. Identify where you can exceed metrics that help your organization really shine. That helps everyone looks good, including you.
4. Embrace the Role
Ask yourself, “What kinds of things would someone with more responsibility be doing?”
In some organization, the next level means that you dress a different way. Other places, if means you make substantial contributions to each meeting. It could even mean getting involved with professional or industry groups.
Take time to observe what the people in your organization and industry are doing that have the roles or responsibilities you want. Then, incorporate those into your professional activities.
Dale Carnegie said, “Put enthusiasm into your work.” Done genuinely, embracing the look and feel of the role before you have it gives people the confidence you’ll transition well.
5. Speak of Others, With Them
If you’ve followed Dale Carnegie’s work, you might have heard the first principle from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
"Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain."
Carnegie didn’t intend that you never challenge or give feedback, but finding fault with others and making judgements about people is dangerous territory.
While most of us think gossip is something only other people do, our need to vent can be perceived negatively. Rarely do organizations entrust someone with more responsibility who’s got that kind of reputation.
Set this standard for yourself: talk about others only in their presence. It’s tough to follow consistently, but even getting somewhat better at this will enhance your reputation for professional communication. That sets you apart from the crowd.