Going Above And Beyond
There is a lot said about different generations and their different approaches to work, but no matter the generation, those who strive for greatness have something in common.
They go above and beyond. They are not satisfied to meet expectations, they want to exceed them. They are problem solvers, solution thinkers and they in equal parts respect and (respectfully) challenge those senior to them.
They’re not that easy to find, but I’d hire them any day of the week.
Think about the 8 hour working day for example. There are the staff who dutifully come in 5 minutes early, never take a minute more on a break, and quietly pack up their things and leave at the end of the shift. An employer can’t ask for anything more (literally and legally can’t!)
Then there are those that are constantly pushing boundaries, testing limits, arriving late, stretching lunch breaks and trying to do as little as possible for maximum reward.
And then, every now and then, the superstar in waiting comes along. This person loves what they do, recognizes that early investment in their career will reap greater long term reward. This is the person that chooses to come in at 7am and often won’t leave until 7pm, despite your friendly ‘go home – get out of here’ prods. They know that their commitment has them noticed. They just about know everything that’s going on in the business – they’re always around! They’re there for that first hello in the morning to the boss – and regardless of how busy that boss is, trust me: she/he notices.
I know there’ll be a few who disagree with me, who say that working smarter is more valuable than working harder, that work/life balance is most important etc etc.
I agree – just imagine how productive someone working longer and smarter will be! And as for work/life balance, remember it is all life, work is part of life too – nobody wants you to be miserable but if you love your job and aren’t sacrificing other important parts of life, there’s no harm in it, at least in the early years of your career.
Top tips for those who strive for greatness…
- Put in the hours, show your commitment. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it’s most important when the business has demands and it really matters.
- Stay late, even if it’s to help someone else meet their deadline. Show you’re a team player and remember that the favour will be returned when you’re in need.
- Know your boss, and if you can, know your big boss. Recognise your bosses as human beings, with emotions, feelings and life demands just like you. Genuinely ask them how they are, tell them that while your plate is full, you’re happy for them to rearrange your priorities so you can support where needed. Bring them a coffee every now and then. Some call it brown nosing, I call it being a sincere, compassionate human being. If you’d do it for a colleague, why not for your boss?
- Understand your industry as a whole. Don’t just be the expert in your role. Recognise your place in the bigger machine. Talk to different staff in different roles and really understand the business and its place within the greater industry.
- Embrace innovation – got a great new idea? Share it with your bosses! They may not decide to launch every idea you have, but they will listen to you. Why? Because you’ve built the relationship with them (see above).
- Challenge and ask questions. The best way to learn and gain knowledge in life is to be a curious cat. I never see asking questions as a sign of weakness (people are worried it will appear that they don’t know something they should). I can tell a lot about a person by the kind of questions they ask – it gives insight into how their brain works – and I love it!
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone has huge ambitions and that’s totally fine. But if you have a little fire burning inside of you, if you aspire to be a CEO, Managing Director, President, Entrepreneur extraordinaire and beyond… you might ask yourself, are you putting in the hard yards when it counts?
KATE HARDEN has over 10 years’ experience in contemporary HR in Australia and Asia. Kate built her career in the dynamic retail fashion industry progressing from Sales Assistant to multi-national People & Performance Manager. Kate currently sits as CEO of International Alumni Job Network and is passionate about forging career pathways for overseas alumni.