— October 16, 2017
Not too long ago, I had a suggestion from a member of my team to provide the sales team with coloring books. Coloring books might be something that is fine for some groups, but not mine. As a manager, I look to provide everyone on my team with everything they need to get the job done. And yes, that includes a relaxed working environment, but I drew the line on having team members color at their desks while they were making sales calls. As I said, I’m not running a daycare.
I think there are occasions when staff doesn’t realize that although businesses are looking to empower their teams, they’re still running a business.
In today’s flatter, less hierarchical, and team-oriented companies, there can be situations when members forget they’re at a job. Managers and team leaders still want results, whether it’s money or social impact. In fact, many managers prefer to work with individuals who see the bigger picture and great team players. A team player looks beyond their own work to what is good and right for the broader group and company as a whole.
If you work at a company where your managers try to support the team’s efforts with employee perks, remember that the best team members are also those who are giving their bosses what they want to see in results.
If you want to be a team member that supports your manager or leader, here are some quick ideas to help you set yourself apart from the others and standout in the eyes of your boss.
- Understand the Goals of Your Boss: Understand the macro and micro goals that your boss has to accomplish. These should be in addition to your goals. Figure out ways to excel at your goals and also ensure that your manager achieves some of his or her goals. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to walk into your manager’s office and ask him or her what else, in addition to your work, you can do for them. Your aim is to show your value, not just demonstrate that you’re a worker who can achieve the goals of your job. Showing value comes in addition to your work.
- Eliminate Excuses: Your boss doesn’t care about the reasons that can come up when something failed or went wrong. Yes, they care about the facts so there is learning, but they’re not interested in excuses. They want to know what happened, facts as to what went wrong, and what is being done to rectify or improve the situation. If you have a failure or an obstacle, your manager wants to know what your thoughts and recommendations are for overcoming them. Eliminate anything that ever sounds like an excuse from your vocabulary. They’re not interested. Ask yourself instead, how are you going to solve the problem or make it an opportunity for improvement and learning?
- See Something, Say Something: Often more junior people have the chance to see any issue––or something that can potentially become a serious matter or opportunity––because they are involved in the day-to-day work. If you see something that can become a golden opportunity or a challenge, say something and provide your ideas about how to handle it. By speaking up, you will help your boss see that you’re keeping your eyes not just on your job, but on the overall higher-level issues.
- If You’re On Time, Your Late: The reality is, and you might not like this one, but there remains a bias at work for the morning. Researchers have been able to see to some extent the bias that managers tend to have toward those people who are in the office early. Even if you stay late, your boss likely sees you in a better light if you are early to work. More than likely, your boss is in the office early. If you’re making the same commitment, you’re differentiating yourself as someone who cares about the broader organizational goals.
- Under-promise, Over-deliver: One of the biggest mistakes more junior people make is to over-promise. Instead, when you’re in the process of developing goals, understand what you’re sure to meet, and then give those goals to your boss. Then create a separate set of goals that you will strive toward which exceed the metrics that you provided to your boss. As you measure yourself against your goals and not the ones you gave to your boss, your manager will quickly become aware that you’re over-delivering.
- Complain Less: Your boss has a lot on his or her plate, and although they want to understand and be informed about issues, the last thing you want to do is to complain. Make it a point to be “complainless.” Complaining is when you take a situation and offer no solutions. Don’t complain. Instead, be one of the team members who foster a collegial and professional working team environment. And, when you are debating ideas or solutions to challenges or opportunities, be the person who’s always looking for the productive path forward.
- Master Your Manager’s Communication Style: One of the most effective sales techniques that many salespeople learn is to match the communication style of the person to whom they’re speaking. If your manager is someone who wants things to be told to him in bullets on a single page and in as concise a way as possible, the last thing you’ll want to do is to offer your boss a monologue or a 10-page plan. That kind of presentation will be the fastest way to lose their attention. Alternately, if your boss prefers to brainstorm with you during a face-to-face meeting that will take up two hours your day, that’s what you need to do. Match the style of your manager, so they are more inclined to pay attention to what you have to say.
To stand out with your manager and team leader, you have to build a relationship. In fact, it’s essential that you create a healthy relationship. The next time there’s a new position open within your company, your manager will more easily see you in the role if he or she already thinks you’re a star player. And, when the time comes that you consider leaving the business, asking your manager for a LinkedIn recommendation or reference will be easier and better because you’ve always set yourself to be a great team player.