As I write this blog we are in the 31st day of a government shutdown … one that immediately impacted some 800,000 people by either putting them on furlough or expecting them to work without pay in order to allow various government services to continue operating for the benefit and safety of all Americans.
And whereas I believe … no, I know … that this will end somehow and sometime, it immediately brought to mind the people I have met and with whom I’ve worked who think nothing of going above and beyond what they know as their ‘job description’. Of course there is a difference in that in the government’s case, this going above and beyond has been imposed on people whereas those I recall and encounter have made a personal choice. Following my curiosity, I thought it of value to explore what this looks like in its’ simplest form that becomes a personal value to some.
There is no question that being the ‘giver’ who is always willing and available to go the extra mile can bring with it real benefits to those inclined to jump in. As perhaps you have experienced or seen others
experience this, taking on that extra work creates a positive impression that can pay off handsomely when it comes to raises and promotions. And still there is moderation wherein one can do this without incurring the wrath of others around who may see this as another just being a showoff.
Katie Douthwaite Wolf has identified four basic and straight-forward ways that a person can go above and beyond and create the related positives for that person and the organization … without going over the top. They are:
- Put Feedback Into Action
Truly begin listening to feedback you get from a manager and co-workers as a means of striving to continually improve and actually use it. When suggestions are made as to how you might do something differently ‘next time’ incorporate that into your ‘next time’. It’s always impressive when your actions demonstrate some serious listening to input.
- Anticipate Needs
From a manager’s standpoint nothing is nicer to hear than “I’ve actually already started on that”. It means that instead of waiting for him or her to ask you to do something, you’ve already thought of it and taken action. Certainly the longer you work your position you come to know what doing the particular job or task looks like and what is needed to do it successfully. You simply have to use past learning to allow you to apply it to future tasks without being told … again … to do something you know well.
- Bring Your Ideas to the Table
One can easily think that it is someone else’s job to identify improvements to the system or taskbeing done. However, no one else may be doing the precise parts of it that you do and thus, no one else might be as qualified to determine changes to the system that could significantly improve the efficiency or functionality of that job as you The leader most often wants to know about thoughts or ideas that can improve a process or an outcome. When this person is presented with a thought-out and logical plan you show yourself to be prepared, innovative and dedicated to constant improvement.
- Go Out of Your Way
There is nothing new or hi-tech about a willingness to go out of one’s way when it comes to going the extra mile. The caller needing help just moments prior to the close of the day responds very well when you take their call ready to provide what they might need only focused on that and not a concern about the extra minutes you worked. Or hearing a distressed and/or frustrated customer or co-worker is looking for help rather than a response indicating ‘it’s not my job’. Incorporating and adopting this into one’s personal operating method can readily put that person above the rank and file.
Wolf adds to her suggested actions the belief that “when you consistently incorporate these things into your daily life at work, you’ll quickly rise above the ranks. But more than being known as the employee who’s just trying to elbow his or her way to a promotion, you’ll be seen as the employee who genuinely wants to see the department and team succeed.”
I want to be very clear. Like in anything else, having a healthy balance in many things we are inclined to
do is important. Going overboard at work, while looking good to the boss perhaps, can and will impact one’s attitude, energy and enthusiasm for their job if done to an unreasonable extent. Thus, addressing this topic it is done believing that moderation is a key to both demonstrating oneself as being a true team player and taking care of that same person’s needs … both personal and professional.
Working in an organization where the culture encourages and recognizes those who are inclined to go above and beyond clearly makes it easier to consider and do. However, regardless of the environment in which one works, all benefit by having those who naturally think ‘giver’ and they are usually rewarded in meaningful ways. We know that the organization will benefit and the question for you as a reader to consider is what opportunities you can create to go above and beyond and what will that enable you to achieve as an individual? Seems like it might be worth a few minutes of thought?