You show up to work on time every day, meet your deadlines, and are on good terms with your boss—and yet, you’ve had the same mid-level title for years. Why does it seem like your peers are climbing the corporate ladder while you’re stuck on the same rung? Because snagging a promotion requires more than meeting the minimum requirements for your job (even if you’re meeting them well). Below are nine ways to go the extra mile at work—and reap the rewards.
1. SAY YES.
Your boss will only trust you to take on more responsibility if you show him or her that you can handle it. Do so by eagerly accepting any assignments that are offered and volunteering for additional projects. Once your boss sees that you’re able to stay calm and confident under the increased pressure of a heavier workload, he or she will know you’re ready to take the next step in your career.
2. AVOID THE DRAMA.
Every workplace has its cliques, but the employees who advance to managerial positions are the ones who know to stay above the fray. It may be tempting to vent to a coworker about office frustrations or pass along that juicy story you heard about a colleague, but saving your opinions for a non-work friend could save your future with the company.
3. BE FRIENDLY.
Avoiding drama is different from being stand-offish. You don’t need to hit up every office happy hour and team excursion, but creating a sense of camaraderie with your coworkers is important. You want to garner a reputation for being likable and trustworthy, which you do by being friendly, polite, and tactful with everyone from the receptionist to the CEO.
4. BE PROACTIVE.
You can’t expect a promotion to drop into your lap. Instead, spend time thinking about the bigger picture and strategizing what you can do to help the company achieve its long-term goals. Write up your thoughts and present them to your boss.
5. INCREASE YOUR FACE TIME.
While a flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely are perks many employees enjoy, it’s important to strike a balance. For many managers, out of sight is out of mind—and when a new opportunity becomes available, you want your name to be the first one that pops into your boss’s head.
6. KEEP YOUR EXCUSES TO YOURSELF.
Mistakes happen—be it a late arrival, missed meeting, or typo in an important report—and your boss knows this. When you mess up, acknowledge that you were in the wrong, apologize, and offer a quick explanation for your error (“I slept through my alarm this morning,” or “I was working late and had trouble focusing”). Do not point the finger at someone else or wallow in your personal troubles—your boss doesn’t want to hear your excuses, and making them will only succeed in tarnishing your own reputation.
7. LEARN HOW TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK—AND IMPLEMENT IT.
Similar to admitting when you make a mistake, in order to get ahead you must learn how to humbly receive feedback. Keep in mind that your manager is pointing out areas that need improvement because he or she wants you to succeed. Accept criticism graciously (“Thank you so much for letting me know; I’ll work on that”), and then make the desired change. Marked improvement will be noted, but so will stagnation: Don’t let your boss think you chose to ignore her comments or that you’re unable to grow.
8. SEEK OUT EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES.
Usually, the next position up the ladder requires more or different skills than your current position. Take every chance you can to pick up these abilities, be it by volunteering for challenging projects or signing up for continuing education classes. Keep track of these efforts so you are prepared to show your boss the action you’ve taken to ensure you’re qualified for the next step.
9. SPEAK UP.
Many employees think their work speaks for itself; that if they put their heads down and churn out solid work they will be rewarded for it. Unfortunately, this belief just isn’t true. While shoddy work will certainly be noticed, good work rarely makes a splash. Make your supervisor aware of your achievements by making clear the positive effect your projects have had on the company’s bigger picture. (Did that proposal you wrote lead to a new client? Did the social media channel you helm help increase revenue?) Make a list of these triumphs and discuss them at your next performance review.