Have you ever wanted to stand out at work – but were worried about standing out too much?
You don’t want to ostracize yourself from your peers, but sometimes this can happen when you’re pushing for a promotion or trying to impress your manager. Competition is natural in a work environment, but you don’t want to overstep boundaries.
Balancing work relationships can be tricky. You want to succeed and advance in your career endeavors. But you also want to be liked and maintain good relationships with your coworkers.
Here are five steps you can take to stand out from your peers while avoiding their envy:
First and foremost, humility is key. There’s no reason to boast or brag about your skills, accomplishments, wins, etc. to your coworkers. That pits you against them and creates a one-up mentality. Humility is a good trait to have in general, but it’s even more essential if you’re trying to walk the fine line of maintaining work relationships and outperforming job expectations.
If you’re publicly praised for your work or completing a task or organizing an event, that’s great. Appreciate the kind words, you deserve it. But don’t gloat by reminding your peers of your accomplishment. This applies to social media too. Social media can be a great networking tool, but it can be damaging to your personal brand and work relationships if you use these platforms to boast about yourself. Instead, use social media to your advantage by maintaining positive, team-focused messages and material.
Pick low-hanging fruit
Take advantage of the easy tasks your manager requests of your team. This could be an ad hoc project or presentation on company-wide initiatives, updated work policies or guidelines, or training for new software. For example, your manager may ask if anyone is willing to be an initial tester of new software that the company is beginning to install (e.g. email platform, booking system, scheduler, etc.). By volunteering to be a tester, you’ll not only standout for taking initiative, but you’ll also be seen as a leader and expert with respect to the new system. This creates additional opportunities for training and guiding your teammates once they begin to use the new software too.
These tasks may be outside the scope of your work, but they’re just as important. By volunteering to complete these tasks, you’re making your manager’s life a lot easier, which will put you on their radar. Plus, since the request is likely out of your usual responsibilities, you might learn a new skill or gain valuable experience.
It’s important to balance between being helpful and being overly eager. You don’t want to step over others. For example, if your manager assigns one of these tasks to another colleague, don’t steal their thunder by doing it before them to get the credit or attention. That will just create resentment.
As vital as it is to pick the low-hanging fruit, that’s still a reactive approach to standing out. Taking incentive and finding the problems that need solving before your higher-ups do is proactive. This separates you from the pack even more.
Taking initiative takes a little extra digging and effort, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run. This involves awareness and attention to detail. Ask yourself, what could your team do differently to be more efficient? Or, what are some of the challenges your group faces on a day-to-day basis? Are there any instances in which your team does extraneous work? If you can answer these questions and provide a solution, you’re in great position to impress your manager. To avoid making your coworkers envious of your productivity, present these potential solutions in a team-focused, humble manner.
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Communication. Plain and simple. Whether it’s your manager or your coworkers, everyone can appreciate transparent communication. It’s always better to over communicate, then nothing falls through the cracks. This also shows you’re committed to your role and are actively involved.
For example, if you’re coordinating a large meeting, communication is integral to a smooth event. If you’re leading this coordination, keep everyone else informed of the setup’s overall progress and the event’s details – parking, scheduling, dress code, etc. Alert everyone of any modifications or time changes, especially for those traveling into town for the event. Make sure the event’s final itinerary is distributed to attendees at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Effective communication is vital to gathering the appreciation and respect of your teammates. Communication failures can lead to discord, disorganized events, and resentment.
Lend a helping hand
Lastly, look at your colleagues as teammates versus coworkers or competition. Yes, you are competing – in a sense. But that doesn’t mean you can’t assist them when they’re overloaded with work or answer questions when they’re struggling. This goes a long way to gaining their respect and appreciation – rather than envy.
If you’ve knocked out your to-do list, seek out a teammate that has a lot on their plate. Remember step #1, don’t be cocky about it. There’s no need to rub it in that you’ve finished your work and they haven’t. Be respectful and offer to take some of the burden off their shoulders. Also, it’s important to be mindful of what comes with this offer – consider the timelines of the additional work and if it’s a task you’re familiar with. Simply offering to help doesn’t do any good if you’re unable to complete it in a timely fashion.
Stand out without coworker resentment
Standing out from your peers takes effort. Standing out and staying in your peers’ good graces is an even bigger challenge. Employ a positive, down-to-earth mentality, be team-minded, communicate, and think about ways to improve and optimize processes around your job. If you take these steps, you’ll be a great teammate and employee and be on your way to achieving your career goals – while steering clear of envious, resentful colleagues.