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Be Successful at Work – 3 Tips on How

by Rob Cross on March 24th, 2010

Making a (positive) Impact

You’ve passed the recruitment process and now you’re working – your career has started!

But now that you’ve got one, just having a job isn’t enough – you want to stand out – you want to be successful.

Being successful at work comes from doing one thing and one thing only; you’ve got to make a positive impact!

Making a positive impact means you’re having a positive impact on your organisation by delivering exceptional results; and, your having a positive impact on those around you by being someone they trust and can rely on.

3 Tips on Making a Positive Impact

There are 3 simple things you can do to achieve success at work by making a positive impact:

  1. Prove your Competence – always deliver what you say.
  2. Show your Confidence – be prepared to have a go.
  3. Get Noticed – subtly blow your own trumpet.

Through applying these simple things effectively you can not only make a positive impact, but you can prove to people that you are the type of person they want to work with.

1. Prove your Competence

Proving your Competence means that you always deliver what you say you will. There’s nothing worse than working with someone who doesn’t do what they promise, and once you don’t trust someone who you avoid working with in the future; you don’t want to be seen as one of these types of people!

To prove your competence you first have to Know what you must Deliver. The most successful people I’ve ever seen do this through following one simple process:

  1. Define your Problem/Opportunity – before you launch into any task first always define what the true problem or opportunity is. This means seeking to really understand the root cause that’s creating the problem or opportunity. E.g. you could be asked by your boss to fix a failing project – this first requires you to do some analysis to find out exactly why the project is failing by getting beyond the symptoms and to the cause.
  2. Define your Desired Outcome – once you know what the root cause of the problem or opportunity is, you must define as specifically as possible, what success looks like. That is, if you fix this what will be the result and when will it be achieved? E.g. for the failing project it could be that the specific product is delivered on XXXX date within the budget of $XXXX. Being as specific as possible means that you know what success must be.
  3. List your Options - now you know what success needs to look like against your problem or opportunity, you need to brainstorm all the options available to achieve it. This means considering all the possible solutions. Once you’ve brainstormed all possibilities you need to then assess them against your outcome to select the best option. It’s important to note, that by brainstorming first and then picking the best option, if your first option fails, then you have some back up plans.
  4. Take Planned Action – with your best option(s) identified you now need to develop a plan to take action. This means planning who will do what and by when. With this plan you can then just follow it to deliver your desired outcome. However, as you follow your plan, make sure constantly review your progress against your desired outcome as this will help you keep on track to deliver what you say you will.

This process helps you go slow, to go fast. Too often when we’re trying to impress we leap straight into action before really knowing what problem we’re trying to solve. So whenever you’re given a new task, take your time and work through the process above – this is where your success will come from by proving your competence. When you’ve developed your plan, its also worth running it past your boss which will reinforce their confidence that you know what you’re doing.

2. Show your Confidence

Showing your Confidence is easier for some people than others. The world of work after university can sometimes be tricky – it’s not always obvious what’s acceptable and what’s not. This means that when you’re trying to show your confidence its hard to know what the right level is; showing too much confidence could result in you being seen as arrogant, and showing too little could result in you being seen as shy which means you’re often ignored.

What’s the right level of confidence to show?

The right level of confidence to show is directly related to proving your competence. That is, the level of confidence you show must align to what you can actually deliver. For example, I’ve met many people who spend all their time telling people how great they are and who over commit themselves. When they fail to deliver it makes the fall even bigger for them! I’ve also met some amazing people who are capable of achieving some great things, but who work too far within their comfort zone because they’re scared of failing.

By following the process above for every task you’re given you can make sure that you are confident in yourself that you can deliver. You can also recognise when you are going to ’stretch yourself’ out of your comfort zone by trying something new. Therefore, when you follow this process you can talk to the people involved about what you’re going to deliver and how you’re going to go about it. This will help them (especially your boss) build their confidence in you. And once you’ve delivered what you say, their confidence in you will only grow further.

The final part of showing the right level of confidence is to make sure you are prepared to have a go at something new. It is often too easy to keep in your comfort zone and not push yourself – but that’s not how you get noticed! So make sure you’re prepared to get out and trying something new. And, when you do, be sure to plan it out to build your confidence and you’re guaranteed to suprise yourself!

3. Get Noticed

Getting noticed at work relies heavily on what you deliver and the confidence you show. Central to getting noticed is your ability to ’subtly’ blow your own trumpet. No one likes over confident people who spend their day telling the world how great they are. And, no one notices those under-confident people who don’t make their achievements known. So, you must find the middle ground through subtly blowing your own trumpet.

How do you subtly blow your own trumpet?

Subtly blowing your own trumpet is both a science and an art. The key to doing it is to focus on what you’ve delivered, not on how great you are. That is, by focusing on what you’ve delivered you can draw people’s attention to the impact you’ve had and the value you’ve delivered, rather than who you are as a person. And, by focus on your impact rather than yourself, people will naturally recognise the link and be even more impressed by you.

To subtly blow your own trumpet use the following:

  1. Recognise and define what you’ve achieved – what have you really delivered and why is this valuable for your company?
  2. Identify who needs to know about this – who are the specific people that need to know about what you’ve delivered – it won’t be the whole world but there will be some critical people who should know.
  3. Plan how you will let them know – what will you tell them, and how and when will you do this – letting people know what you’ve delivered doesn’t require you to scream it from the roof tops or put it on the front page of the news paper. You could simply provide a project update or share in a 1-2-1 meeting. If what you’ve delivered is valuable, they’ll notice!

Using these three steps and by focusing on what you’ve delivered rather than who you are as a person is the key to getting noticed at work.

A last word…

As a last word, your reputation and success at work will come from what you deliver and how you go about this. The best managers will always want the best people on their team, and the best people are those who deliver what they say, who are prepared to stretch themselves and also who make their achievements known.

So if you want to achieve success at work by making a positive impact be sure to:

  1. Prove your Competence – always deliver what you say.
  2. Show your Confidence – be prepared to have a go.
  3. Get Noticed – subtly blow your own trumpet.

For more tips like this, CLICK HERE to get your copy of Grad Expectations: the essential guide for all graduates entering the work force

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