It’s easy to be invisible at the office. Sometimes your boss only comments on someone’s work when they screw up. It makes sense: You never think about how amazing and reliable your watch is when it’s working properly, and you only notice when it breaks down. Think of how people take in movies all the time without thinking about the staggering work that went into filming it, editing it, and releasing it. It’s a common problem: When something goes smoothly, you never notice.
But that’s not good if you’re looking to distinguish yourself. You should be letting your boss know the good work you’re doing. If that’s not happening, you might just need to change some habits.
This is harder than it looks. I’ve worked in a lot of offices that have a lot of traffic going past my desk. Bosses and coworkers pass, chat with me, update me on something, or swing by and talk up a storm. Sometimes they’d include me in the conversation, sometimes they don’t.
Here’s the thing: some of these conversations may not include you, but they might involve something that will include you in the future. One way to impress your boss is to remember what the situation is when he or she comes to you, so they don’t have to brief you on it.
This, like a lot of these productivity tips, seems like a grade A no-brainer, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Often you’re focused on your own work during the day. In meetings, in the hallways, at your desk, the temptation will be to just perk your ears up to take a listen, and if it has nothing to do with you, to just zero back into your own work.
Instead, take a moment and pay attention to what’s happening in the office, and remember it. It makes you look like you’re on the ball (which you are), and it proves to your boss that you’re engaged, aware and informed.
LET YOUR BOSS KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING
You should already be taking initiative, finding out what needs to be done and getting it done. But don’t expect your boss to intuitively know how amazing you were at doing it, or how much work you’ve put into something.
That’s a dangerous habit a lot of us get into: we bunker down and throw ourselves into our work quietly, thinking that our bosses can intuit from the end result the kind of hard work we’re doing. Wrong.
As I said before, if a project is executed with precision, skill and hard work, that blood, sweat and tears is often invisible. You should already be going the extra mile, so make sure your boss notices.
Keep your boss updated regularly with what you’re doing, especially if you’ve put a lot of work into it. This is as easy as firing off an e-mail periodically. Staying silent won’t let your boss in on what you’re doing, and even if you turn in a sparkling end result, they might still not notice. Keep him or her informed.
EXPAND THAT KNOWLEDGE BASE (AND THEN USE IT)
Let me just quote every single self help book ever when I say that you’ll never know everything about your field.
There are always new things to learn, new techniques, new information. Take time out of your day to read industry magazines or websites. Ask questions regularly, and learn more about your field.
But that knowledge will do nothing for you, career-wise, if you don’t put it to action. Make a plan and go to your boss with a new idea. Even if it doesn’t pan out, it lets him or her know that you’re engaged with your work, and that you’re learning and building on what you know. That builds confidence in your abilities.
BE EARLY, BOTH TO WORK AND IN COMPLETING YOUR PROJECTS
If you’re not a naturally punctual person, or if you find you procrastinate a lot, this one can be difficult. Instilling new habits take about a month of dedication, but this one is worth it.
Getting to work early shows that you’re organized and committed, and getting your work completed prior to deadline makes you stand out from the crowd, and shows that your boss can trust you with more important projects.
More importantly, take responsibility when you can’t deliver on time, but don’t give excuses. That’s not going to endear you to anyone. Explain your difficulties, and offer solutions, alternatives and follow-up steps.
Being professional means being fluid, accommodating, punctual, creative and visible.
- Be aware of what’s happening in the office
- Update your boss regularly with your accomplishments
- Expand your knowledge
- Be punctual
- Take responsibility
Remember, you’re one of your company’s most potent weapons, and your bosses need to know that. Keep them reminded of it.