10 Tips For Achieving Star Performance at Work
Last week I attended a presentation where I picked some great tips to help make your performance at work shine and raise you above the crowd. These tips apply whether you are self-employed or employed at a company.
In this economy, people are looking for ways to stay employed or keep their customers coming back to seek their products or services. Rising above the crowd is of significant importance in an economy in which businesses are downsizing and consumers are cutting back spending. This article provides some strategic and tactical ideas that you can apply immediately to start moving towards becoming a super-star at work.
The 10 tips for star performance can be divided in two groups:
1. Six (6) performance-tuning strategic tips – these are strategies you need to think though which will help you achieve star performance.
2. Four (4) performance action tactical tips – what tactical activities will define you as a star performer.
Performance-tunining strategic tips:
1. Define what you want – clearly define your goals and rank your desires. Are you working towards a promotion within the next year? Increase your customer base? Avoid customer attrition? Rank in importance what your desires are so you know what to nogotiate when the conversation comes up. As you have probably heard or read many times, you need to define your goals to know what strategies and actions you need to achieve them, and know when you achieve them. Remember to establish SMART goals.
2. Know why you were hired – find out exactly what’s the real reason you where hired or contracted. Yes, you got a job title and description, or if you are self-employed, you may have a contract or other agreement that details what your getting paid to do. But find the underlying reason you in particular were selected. I was hired at my current position to spearhead packaging process improvements, but the real reason is my manager needed a person that could drive a culture change to use process and quality improvement tools and methodologies in our organization. Some people are selected for a contract, not only because they can do the work (of course they can do the work, otherwise they would not be considered for the job) but because they can also bring something extra that the hiring manager or customer wants. You may have the charasteristic to share you knowledge with others in your group, making your group even better. If you are a contractor, you not only do the job well, but may do some extra cleaning or provide good follow-up visits to make sure your client is making the best use of your product or service. Whatever the underlying reason is that you were chosen above others, you need to know it and make sure you deliver on that expectation.
3. Rate yourself; are you the best? – know where you are ranked in your group or industry. Are you among the top 10%? If not, what are those in the top 10% doing that you are not? What can you do to get there?
4. Make it about the business and you – understand your organization’s business, and know the direction its going, the challenges and limitations, and how your skills can help. Make it about helping the business. Sieze any opportunities to help your organization or your customers. The presenter at the conference I attended offered an example of two individuals who wanted to work for his organization. One went to talk to him and listed why he wanted to work for his organization as a Program Manager and the skills he brings to the job. The other individual had learned of a project his group had droped for lack of resources and volunteered to work on it. Which one do you think he would hire when an opening came up? A frined of mine is a realtor, and that line of work has been slow lately. So he is making up by doing remodeling work. One day he was in his Realtor office and noticed the gutters needed cleaning. He volunteered to clean the gutters and save the company some money. So he change clothes and did the work. Do you think the general manager will fight to keep him? You bet!
5. Understand your manager or customers – watch what things triggers him/her and play to those things. If you see the manager getting on someone’s case for being late you know punctuality is very important to that manager, so make sure you are on-time to meetings! In conversations with customers, pick on details that indicate how they like things done or delivered. That may give you the edge over the competition.
6. Understand other people (peers, other managers, business partners, employees, etc.) – same as with your manager or customer, know what triggers other managers in your organization, or other business partners in your industry?
Performance-action tactical tips:
This are tips for identifying the grade scale of performance. Assuming you are delivering on your commitments, the grade starts at A-. In an organization that hires the best, or in a very competitive industry, a person that consistently delivers on his commitments is in the A level, but to be a super star, you need to perform above A+ level.
7. A- = commit and deliver: doing the work you were paid for is AVERAGE performance. This will put you above people that don’t deliver consistently on their commitments, but if you only do the work you were paid for, you are merely meeting what was already expected. Like the presenter in the conference said, “every two weeks we are even, as I pay you for the work we agreed.” As self-employed, you would do the work that you were hired to do as detailed in the contract. In today’s market you’ll have a lot of competition performing at this level. If there is one thing I suggest you remember from this article, it is this one.
8. A = commit and over-deliver: if you do a little extra on your deliveries you will step to the next level above the crowd. Getting that delivery a little early, or with an extra level of detail may do the trick to go beyond what was expected. It may be to do a little extra cleaning of the construction site where you just completed your work, or put a tie in the hangers so your dry-cleaning customers don’t have the pressed cloth moving all over in the car on the way home. Sending a birthday card to your customers, or giving them a discount that day. Look for delivering that little extra that may add value.
9. A+ = all things in A and; initiate and inovate: for A+ performance, you would need to add initiative and innovation. Being aware of what things are needed and proactively volunteer to address them if they fit your skills. Look and propose new ways of doing things, with the idea that you may the one driving its implementation. If these things add value to the organization or your customers, you would keep rising high above the rest. Seize opportunities to leverage your skills to help the organization.
10. Super star = A+ and; being self-aware, repeatedly making others great, leave a positive legacy: the super star goes beyond the A+ performer by making others around him great. Eveytime I think about this, the name Michael Jordan comes to mind. People always comment about Jordan’s great talent and skills, and how he could make the great plays at clutch moments, but invariably they also talk about how he made his teammates better. When comparing Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, this may be the separating factor that makes Jordan a super-star, and Kobe an A+ player. Super-stars also leave a positive legacy. They start and implement some new methodology or tool which will continue to add value to the organization long after they are gone.
In this economy, its important to stand out above the crowd. Being clear on your goals and ranking your desires are the first step towards becoming a star performer. Understand the business you are in, and what are the influencing factors, dependencies, pain-points, capabilities, and limitations.
Understand you manager or customer, which will be directly evaluating your performance, as well as understanding other influential managers or business partners which will also influence your performance or evaluation, or may be impacted by it. Find out exactly why you were hired. Why did your manager or customer chose you? Understanding this will assure you deliver on what’s important to them, besides what is expected from being written in the contract or job description.
And remember, doing exaclty what you’re told or paid to do, is AVERAGE!. Go the extra mile in what you do and leverage every opportunity to improve the business by initiating something or innovating a new process, service, or product. A manager or customer always wants around people that will go the extra mile to push ahead their business interests.