We're all looking for quick wins at work, but we often overlook the simplest ways to stand out. While perceived worth is typically expressed via charts and quantitative measures, it's important to remember that value is totally subjective and does not always require a tremendous lift in order to make an impact.
While there is no substitute for hard work and meeting basic expectations, quick alterations to our day-to-day activities in the office can go a long way. Does your boss keep mentioning a particular topic? Send him a relevant article about it. Is your coworker nervous about an upcoming presentation? Offer to lend a listening ear and provide suggestions.
Doing the little things can add up to make a big difference.
Whether you're working towards securing that promotion or simply want to make a good impression, here are 5 easy ways to boost your reputation at work.
Send Thank You Emails & Handwritten Letters
One of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor was the importance of sending a follow up email or handwritten letter, especially after an interview or networking event. It can be difficult to stand out amongst tens or even hundreds of applicants, but sometimes, a well-thought-out letter can make the difference.
Tip: Be specific, pick 1-2 things that stood out to you, but be concise. You don't need to write a novel to show that you care.
Remember Personal Information
It's so simple, but the occasional, "How was your son's soccer game?" or "Happy Birthday!" can show that you're listening and care about the people you work with. Regardless of the workload, people are still people, and hopefully, have real lives. Humanize the process.
Tip: Input birthdays or important office events into your calendar.
Ask For Feedback
Do not wait until it's time to receive feedback from your quarterly performance review to learn for the first time that your team and/or supervisor has an issue with something that you're doing. This feedback-blindness can not only stunt your upward mobility prospects, but leave you with an inadequate amount of time to improve perceptions. While it can be uncomfortable to probe your boss regarding areas that you can improve, especially if they "act" like everything you do is great. Consistently requesting feedback shows initiative and provides you with receipts if you are confronted with unexpected negative feedback during your next performance review.
Tip: Request weekly or biweekly informal 15-minute "catch-ups" to check in and discuss your progress/performance.
Come to Work Early/Leave Late
While certainly the least glamorous suggestion, I was once told that as a more junior employee. you never arrive after or leave before your manager. Every workplace is different, but coming a few minutes early or leaving a few minutes later every day can underscore your dedication to your job and maybe even provide you with extra opportunities for facetime with your boss.
Tip: Get a good night's rest or drink caffeine – maybe even bring enough for two.
Be Friendly to Everyone Regardless of Status
No one wants to be around a negative person, especially if you work in a high stress environment. Smiling and maintaining an authentic positive attitude can really make you stand out. That being said, it's important to be kind and treat everyone with respect, regardless of status. Your reputation is comprised of the holistic perceptions of those around you and you'll never know if someone you once managed could end up as your future boss. Relationships matter.
As Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
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