Not all workers are equal. If your company gets ready to do round of layoffs, you want to be in the group of people who are seen as vital and valuable. In this article, we are going to look at a few ways to increase the value you bring to your job in ways that are likely to get noticed.
1. Show up 5 minutes early
If your boss shows up at 9 am like clockwork, then getting to work at 8:59, yourself, is a very worthwhile 1-minute investment. Even if you have to arrive 5 minutes early, it is well worth it to be there before your boss if at all possible. Think about it this way: If your boss has to cut one employee and all other factors are equal, do you think he will cut the person who he sees come in a few minutes late or the one that is always there already working by the time he gets to the office and he isn’t sure how early they actually get there?
The amount of time you put into work isn’t directly related to your output, but most bosses don’t have any really good measurements of your output, so time becomes the de facto standard to measure how much you are doing. It may not be fair, but it is a game you can win by investing a few extra minutes each day.
2. Don’t gossip
In most cases, gossip isn’t going to do anything helpful for you. Most gossip is just going to waste your time. There may be some benefit in keeping track of people’s moods and events that will impact their jobs. For example, if one of your coworkers is fed up and getting ready to quit, it might not be bad to know that ahead of time. But you definitely don’t want to be the person sharing. If you share gossip about others, people won’t trust you with their own information.
3. Be the peacemaker
The ability to help people work through different views is very valuable. Work isn’t going to get done when people disagree, and efficiency is going to suffer when people are forced to do something against their will. If you can help bring about consensus and compromise, you help make everyone more efficient.
4. Share information freely
People often try to increase their own importance by not giving others information. This is a short-sighted strategy and will usually make people dislike you. If you want to be valuable, people need to enjoy working with you. Furthermore, if you only give people the bare minimum information that they ask for, they may feel like you are trying to make them fail.
One of the most annoying people I have ever worked with will spend 10 minutes explaining what he isn’t going to tell you (because he is too busy). If he would just tell you in the first place, it would have only taken five minutes. In his mind, he feels more important being “too busy” to talk to you.
You want to be known as an information hub–not an information dam.
5. Make other people look good
A lot of people operate with the idea that anything they do to make someone else look good must make them look bad. Giving kudos isn’t a zero sum game. Helping other people look good doesn’t necessarily hurt you. In fact, people who you’ve gone out of your way to help promote are more likely to give you credit for your work and help you when you need it. Working with a group of people who are actively trying to help you succeed is a much better condition than working with a bunch of people who think you are trying to take advantage of them.
You can make other people look good in a variety of different ways. Giving them credit is a great way to start. If your boss compliments you on a report you did and one of your co-workers helped, go ahead and tell your boss that your co-worker was a great help. Then tell your co-worker. “I told the boss that the report wouldn’t have been nearly as good without your input.”
These are really good points.
I’ll call out number 3 in particular just because this is an approach I really like, and the idea that “work isn’t going to get done when people disagree” is something I’ve found has to be explained because it’s not obvious. People may be in a silo and may not be thinking about this as a big picture issue. When teams don’t agree on a goal, or an approach, they’re blocked, and they’re not producing anything. It’s a positive thing about your work and your culture if you can keep the peace together and move forward.
Sharing information freely (number 4) is one practice that often gets sacrificed, even by folks with good intentions, because they get too busy. It’s worth taking the time to do.
Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey says
Great tips! I especially agree with the arrive early one. Employers are always impressed by the willingness to show eagerness to get to work and get things done. Thanks for sharing!
Point number quickly one ends up becoming an escalating case of unpaid overtime; he comes in five minutes early so she stays back ten minutes late then the other guy turns up half an hour early and before you know it everyone is working ten hours unpaid overtime a week and getting stressed and having a lousy life. Of course the business loves it, meanwhile smirking out the other side of its mouth as it sends pathetic “work life balance” emails to everyone to read in their spare time.
Mark Shead says
Usually people who are concerned about 5 minutes of unpaid overtime aren’t particularly concerned about trying to really advance in their jobs. Also the vast majority of people looking for this type of advice are probably on salary anyway.
Jamie Ross (Mining Man) says
Five really great tips there! I particularly support number 2. In the industry I’m in (mining) people love gossip and all the latest rumours about the company and other people. It’s partly a product of a general culture of poor communication in the industry, but partly just people’s love of a juicy story.
Spreading gossip is a very quick path to being insecure about yourself and to alienating people around you. As a manager you need to listen for it and pay attention to the grape vine, but never spread something you’ve heard unless:
1. You know it to be true
2. You would say it to your boss or to the person’s face who it involves.
The other points in the post are great too, and very concisely put.
Trevor Allen says
I find this post of Mark Shead’s a bit broad.
Item 4, I believe that once you achieve an aura of competence and diligence in an organization people are going to want your input. So I would take this story of Mr. Shead’s former coworker not as a prohibition of what not to do just an ineffective way of controlling other people’s access to limit interruption.
Item 2, the definition of gossip depends on who is defining it. The benefit of gossip is that you can build up your network within an organization. I totally agree about not spreading negative comments though because of the risk of developing a reputation of a negative individual within the organization.
As a manager, I think it is important to have knowledge of the local gossip to a) seem approachable and b) understand the morale of the department. If people are spreading negative gossip that suggests a lack of timely information within the organization.
Craig Thomas says
Nice post. Being the peacemaker/making others look good in my opinion is all short-term. In the long-term, it wouldn’t work out so well. Peacemakers will be seen as ‘wimps’ while making others look good will give you less status in the situation – allowing your point not to be heard because there’s someone else with a point, who you’ve made feel good who now feels better than you.