Whether you’re joining a new team or you’re trying to revitalize your work with colleagues who think they know you well, taking these steps can turn you into the kind of office hero that everyone wants on their team.
1. Compliment and complement your team.
Nobody likes being upstaged. That’s why the most successful team players learn how to add value without ruffling their colleagues’ feathers. Find a skills gap on your team that you can fill, then reinforce your role by helping your teammates focus on their strengths. Gain the courage to celebrate your teammates’ big wins, even if they don’t always reciprocate.
2. Honor your commitments and keep your team on track.
You don’t need a project management certification to understand the importance of meeting deadlines. Every business celebrates teams that deliver results on time and under budget. Once you master your own time management skills, help your team close out their open tasks by considering project management software. You’ll develop a reputation as a leader who’s more concerned about team results than “keeping things equal.”
3. Manage your vulnerabilities.
In every group, there’s someone who’ll try to tear you down on your quest to become indispensable. If you can’t quite win them over, shore up your defenses so they can’t take you down. Avoid office gossip at all costs, and minimize behavior that could detract from your perceived performance. Depending on your personal habits, that could mean taking stretch breaks instead of smoke breaks, minimizing your personal calls from the office, or switching up your lunchtime routine.
4. Swab the deck.
Whether you call it “paying your dues” or “making your bones,” every workplace requires a ritual of commitment through hard work and heroic efforts. Volunteer for the tasks that nobody else wants to do, then execute them at the top of your game. That could mean converting old paper records into your customer service software, or cleaning up the break room after a group lunch.
5. Ask for feedback.
As you build rapport with your colleagues and with your supervisor, force yourself to hear some uncomfortable information about yourself. Instead of sounding needy by asking how you performed after each task, schedule some routine time with key performers on your team. Ask them for specific, actionable feedback on the things you can do better. Instead of inviting raw criticism, you’ll gain valuable career insight while forcing your colleagues to raise their baseline opinions about your work.
6. Get outside guidance.
When your career hits turbulence, seek advice from a coach or a mentor outside your daily operation. Without breaking confidences or resorting to gossip, state your challenges and your opportunities. Often, even the process of thinking about how to tell your story can illuminate your next steps. Getting this crucial need met outside your own team can reduce conflict with your direct supervisor, letting you both focus on achieving your mutual goals.
7. Track your connections.
Create your own database of personal connections at work, and treat it the same way you’d use a CRM system. Keep notes about each interaction you have, both positive and negative. Follow up with potential mentors, partners, and colleagues to celebrate their successes and to add value whenever you can. Add details about past conversations and personal information, and your contacts will wonder how you can remember it all. Regular top of mind awareness as a significant contributor will get your name brought up during conversations about promotions and high profile projects.
If you follow all seven of these steps, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition for promotions or key projects. Just make sure to develop other people on your team to take over your existing duties, or else you’ll be too indispensable to your job to get promoted.