A headshot of a man in a white shirt smiling at the camera. There is greenery behind him.
Marcus Grodentz. Image: Clint Randall/Pixel PR Photography

How to stand out from the rest of your work colleagues

7 Apr 2022

Life coach and Toastmasters member Marcus Grodentz outlines six key steps for standing out to your manager in the best way.

“I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out – and then I’ll call you back personally to tell you what the answer is.”

That was the response I got from a company that I called with a query. Not only did she reassure me that my query would be investigated, but the member of staff also gave me her name and her direct telephone number before we finished the call.

Future Human

Exceptional customer service is what makes any business or organisation stand out from its competitors. We don’t see it too often and when we do it leaves a lasting impression. So, if you want to impress your boss, look at how you are approaching your work and serving both your customers and your colleagues.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

I’d like to believe that all businesses have a set approach to customer service and that it is consistent across the business, however large or small that might be. Sadly, that is not the case. I have seen significant differences in levels of service within the same organisations I have worked for.

I remember being touched by a video of a talk by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. In it, he spoke about interviews he had with a number of military personnel. These were men and women who had been awarded medals for saving colleagues in conflict situations at extreme personal risk to themselves.

When asked why they had risked their lives for others, their answers were all the same: “Because I know that these people would have done exactly the same for me.”

The military manages to install this ‘esprit de corps’ – a strong regard for the honour of the group – into all its officers and other ranks. Sinek drew a parallel with business and the corporate world, where no one has to risk their lives for another but where such communal spirit is sadly lacking.

I remember talking a colleague in my corporate days who asked if I could deal with the caller on the line with a general query. I knew my colleague could have handled it.

I asked her why she was passing it along to me. She told me that her manager didn’t like her dealing with any queries that were not specific to her work. He said it wasn’t what she was paid to do, and it affected the achievement of departmental targets. She was specifically told not to deal with them. Not to be helpful.

She was uncomfortable with this. She had wanted to help and did not like passing the caller to me. She felt it reflected badly on the organisation – and she was right.

That said, there are some companies that do customer service exceptionally well. My wife and I were on a cruise where every member of staff from the ship’s captain to the general cleaners all had one shared vision – to make our trip as happy and as memorable as possible. The staff worked very hard and put in long hours. But invariably they were happy and smiling, courteous and helpful.

Whether you work for, or are applying for a job in, a large or a small company, what is the secret to making your manager happy and to making you stand out? You can use the following tips.

Understand the goals

Understand the goals that your supervisor has both personally and for the business. Then do everything you can to support them.

Every business or individual should have one thing they want to be known for. Is it the drive or desire to do what they do? Is it to be the best at what they do? Is it to produce the best product or service or the most efficient product or service?

When you understand this, you can see how you can provide the necessary support.

Doing and saying the right thing that supports these aims and ideals – walking the talk – will mean that your boss has increasing confidence in you. Your colleagues will notice you and what you say. You will grow in both confidence and stature.

Be helpful

Be the person who says yes. That doesn’t mean being subservient. It means be helpful. Be at the front of the line. Offer to do jobs. Then do those jobs to the best of your ability.

Help out colleagues and be supportive. Give praise to others. Thank people who have helped you.

But it is important for common sense to prevail. There can be a fine line between showing initiative and overstepping the mark.

Saying yes sometimes means giving a caveat. ‘Yes I can do that for you – but not today/this week.’ Give a time frame that is realistic.

Be reliable

Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time. Be there when you are supposed to be. Turn up for work on time. Don’t be late for meetings and keep people waiting. Meet your deadlines. Don’t make excuses.

Reliability creates confidence. People know that you are someone who will do what they say, give honest answers and will provide solutions and alternatives and not just raise problems.

Smile

We all like being around happy, positive people. Your boss will be no different. Don’t be a moaner. Don’t keep complaining to your boss or others about things. If you are not happy in your job, the answer is simple – leave.

Remember what Dale Carnegie wrote: “A smile, someone once said, costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”

Learn

If you are new to a job, start learning and keep learning. Ask questions. Understand what’s going on. Even if you have been in a job for a while, don’t think you know everything.

Times move on and you need to keep pace with modern approaches and changes. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ is not the answer. Be prepared to look at new and improved ways.

Lead by example

All of these qualities and attributes add up to leadership. Even junior members of staff can show leadership and demonstrate those skills. Be a leader so that others can follow your example.

I started my work life as a junior in a newspaper office. One of my duties was to make tea for everyone in the newsroom.

I warmed the extra-large tea pot with hot water before I put in the tea bags. I made sure all the mugs were cleaned and that the reporters had biscuits. Everyone looked forward to the morning and afternoon tea breaks.

Doing the small things well means being given the opportunities for additional responsibilities and opportunities for promotion, as well as enthusiastic testimonials.

And finally, if you don’t know the answer, go and find out. Remember the lady I spoke to with a query? She made enquiries, found the answers and called me back when she said she would with a resolution. And guess what? That company got a great testimonial from me, lots of referrals and my repeat business.

By Marcus Grodentz

Marcus Grodentz is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that provides communication and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.

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