In How to Manage Your Career to Make Millions More I listed seven steps to making the most of your career. Today we will be going into details of the first step: over-perform.
This is the first thing that pops into the minds of most people when they think of succeeding at work: performing well. It is an important part of making the most of your career for sure, but it’s not the only step (there are six others, of course). That said, performance is part of the equation in every position and if you can’t perform, your career won’t go far.
Simply “doing your job” does not get you ahead. That just earns you the salary you’re already being paid. To earn more, you need to do and accomplish more. Therefore, you need to over-perform in your current position to get promoted and receive raises.
Unfortunately you can’t even just over-perform at work and expect the rewards to flow. Sometimes they will but often they won’t — unless you take an intentional approach to over-performing that makes sure your efforts are recognized and rewarded.
Five Steps to Over-Performing
There’s actually a process for making sure you over-perform and getting the most from it. It consists of these five steps:
1. Determine the expectations for your position. Talk to your boss and make a list of what he expects from you. Agree on the list so you make sure you’re on the same page. And be sure to get it in writing. Otherwise, it could turn into your word versus his or be the point of legitimate miscommunication. Worse yet, your boss could leave the company and leave you high and dry. If you write down the expectations, you still have a documented roadmap of what’s expected no matter what happens. So early on in a new job, whether it’s with a new company, a new job with your current company, or even the same job with a new boss, you need to get your expectations in writing.
2. Make expectations as quantifiable as possible. Be sure to get a quantifiable objective for each task (which is harder to dispute when you achieve it). For example, “grow sales 8%” is better than “grow sales.” Another one: “Cut costs 15%” is better than “cut costs.” Finally, “Improve scores 10%” is better than “improve scores.” The more your expectations are specific and quantifiable the less debate about whether you met them or not.
3. Work to over-perform. This is where the rubber meets the road. You now know what is expected in your job and it’s time to beat that. If your expectation is to save the company $100,000, work to save it $150,000. If you need to grow sales 5%, work to grow it 10%. If you need to get three new customers ordering your product, work to get five. Whatever your expectations are, work to beat them.
4. Document your success. Every once in a while (I send a weekly email to my boss detail project status – which inherently shows progress and lists results), let your boss know how you’re progressing versus your expectations. Eventually, the update will speak for itself — that you’re over-performing.
5. Remind as needed. Sometimes great results can get lost so it’s always good to review them. This is easily done without sounding pompous simply by reporting the facts. You can list what was expected and what actually happened. Weekly meetings or quarterly or annual reviews are great times to go over your accomplishments and remind your boss that you’re over-performing.
In most cases, bosses recognize good work. But sometimes you are hitting homeruns left and right and the powers that be don’t notice. Using a systematic way of identifying what’s expected of you, surpassing those goals, and documenting your success for your boss to see will usually enlighten even the most clueless of bosses.