Are you working at a job with plenty of room for advancement, but can’t figure out how to put yourself ahead of the pack for promotion? Sure, you show up and do your job, but what can you do to set yourself apart and impress the boss? Here are five ways to impress your employer.
Believe it or not, the owner of a given company probably started their business out of a passion they had for the industry. This passion created enough success for them to hire on additional employees and establish a management structure where advancement was made possible. Even if you work at a larger corporation or government department, passion is recognized as one of the core principals of success in any working environment. Think about it: if you’re responsible for a set of employees and need to choose one of them to take charge of the others, would you pick the one who shows up, does their job, and goes home, or the individual who brings new ideas to the table, shows enthusiasm for what they do, and doesn’t mind staying later to get the work done? Passion can’t come out of thin air, and it doesn’t have to be targeted at the industry itself. You could be passionate about providing excellent customer service, building a strong team, or simply doing the best job you can possibly do.
Think Outside the Box and Provide Ideas Through Proper Channels
Finding ways to save the company money, or improve how it currently operates are key components to making a great impression on your employer. A call center, for example, may have a process that costs agents additional time with each caller. Perhaps you’ve discovered a better way to do the same job, which could result in lower talk times and better overall service levels for the call center. This one idea could save the company a lot of money, and the person who presents the idea will no doubt have a lasting impression on management when promotions become available.
As an example, a call center where I worked for years offered customers a payment plan if they were unable to meet their monthly billing requirements. Their total amount due was split by a percentage, and the remainder would be further split over a period of several months. This required every agent to work out the payment arrangement using paper, pencil, and a calculator. This opened the process up to a higher error percentage as math was rarely as accurate as it could have been, and the amount of time spent with each customer was significantly high. One agent went above and beyond by creating a spreadsheet that calculated the payment arrangement and provided copy-and-paste friendly notes for the account by simply inputting the customer’s total amount due and next bill due date. Time spent calculating the arrangement went from over a minute down to a few seconds. This resulted in faster calls, less errors, and uniform notes that were easier for the next agent to understand. Further to that, the agent who created the payment arrangement calculator was one of the first to be promoted to a lead position during the next round of openings.
Attendance is Key
It’s easy to call in sick if you feel that you need a break from the workplace. The lure of accrued vacation and sick time can be difficult for most people to resist, even under optimal conditions. The fact of the matter is, some jobs have terrible attendance rates, which result in inefficiency and a drop in customer satisfaction levels as customers begin to notice a lack of support. You can see the direct results of poor attendance at your local grocery store. Poor attendance levels result in closed registers, poorly stocked aisles, and a parking lot full of carts. You may notice this more on Mondays, Fridays, and around the first of the month, which are historically bad days for attendance.
When considering who to promote, attendance is often the first thing any manager or business owner reviews. If someone calls in frequently, regardless of the reason they give when they return to work, they’re more likely to be passed over. Poor attendance can be interpreted into a lack of passion or interest in the work. This lack of interest could relay directly to any employees under a member of management, so there’s less incentive to promote someone with poor attendance. Bottom line: unless you’re sick or have a verifiable emergency, try your hardest not to call in.
Dress for the Job You Want
This advice I received from arguably the best manager I’ve ever worked under. She ran a very large division of a Fortune 500 company, and her hiring decisions had a direct impact on the company’s bottom line. One of her core philosophies when hiring or promoting an employee centered around how that candidate dressed on a daily basis. Anyone could spruce themselves up for an expected interview, but how that individual represented their team during day-to-day business was more important than whether or not they put on a tie for a single 30-minute interview.
This applies mostly to office environments or businesses without a uniform dress code. If you show up to work in flip-flops and shorts, you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. When you’re at work, you should dress for the job you want. Take a look at members of management and the attire they wear to important meetings. Do they wear a tie? Do they tuck their shirts in? Are any of them walking around in cargo pants?
Even if they are, you should never take for granted a slacking dress code. Design your wardrobe around the kind of clothes you’d expect to wear if you were interviewing for the position above your own. Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to leave a good impression on a manager, even if you don’t talk to them directly.
Bottom line: you can be comfortable in your backwards cap and cargo shorts at home. Show up to the office wearing a button-up shirt and slacks with real shoes, and you just might find yourself in a much more comfortable financial situation before long.
Be Honest and Take Ownership
Honesty is the best policy when dealing with management in the workplace. Making up excuses or deflecting blame toward others does little to win the confidence of management. If you’re presented with a problem, how you choose to deal with it says a lot about how you handle the pressures of a higher position within the company. Often, a member of management will present an employee with a situation knowing exactly where the problem exists and who the responsible parties are simply to find out if the employee takes ownership of the problem and assumes responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future, even if they had nothing to do with the problem in the first place.
There’s a time and a place for pointing fingers, but the employee who grabs a problem by the horns and takes responsibility for solving it will always come out on top over one who blames a coworker or accepts the blame and does nothing to correct the situation.
The same can be said for situations where you’re facing a problem you honestly believe you can’t solve. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve hit your limit, but make sure you’ve exhausted your available resources to finding a solution first. Sometimes, a problem can only be solved by bringing in other members of the team to make it work. This may be exactly what your employer wanted you to do in the first place.