Get Noticed At Work By Doing One Thing Special
Pinpoint your competitive advantage, then power-drill it into the eyes of higher-ups.
Your coworkers are smarter and harder working than you. Those who aren’t, sometimes go Machiavelli – backstabbing, sabotaging, swindling and kissing up.
I’ve had to dive into that same swamp as an employee. I also found a legit way to make myself less disposable: find at least thing to contribute that leaves challengers begging for dregs.
About “Competitive Advantage”
Here’s the straight goods. Find something you do, know, or could learn, that gets you fed first.
Two possible paths. One is being unique. If no one else has what you’ve got, maybe you’ll stick out. Otherwise, you’ll to have more of it, or be better, than the knife-sharpening mob behind you.
Does Being A Bowling Champ Qualify?
You’re a maestro at playing the flute. Cool. Except you don’t work in an orchestra, so no one gives a flying fruck.
For something to give you an edge, it has to make the mucky-mucks do handstands. That could include almost anything. Being from a different culture or country. Offering to lock up and open the store. But unless a specialty is gold to your employer, it means nada.
Value’s In The Eye Of The Beholder
No need to be best overall. Honing stuff that makes you unique and compelling is enough for an advantage. Harder part’s matching what bosses give two hoots about. Because what they value can boggle minds.
I had one horndog boss whose focus was cleavage. Needless to say, I fell flat. Another obsessed over punctuality. Arrive a minute late and feel the wrath of Khan (you’re welcome, Trekkies).
I liked the one that prized news awareness (she’d chat me up about world events). Another lived to burn midnight oil – I grew to hate that workaholic bastard. Almost all adored me for helping them use the latest software, which I learned to do strictly for self-preservation.
Do What Everyone Else Either Hates Or Sucks At
I was lucky, having three natural talents bosses worshipped. First, I loved making presentations. Ham that I am I’d own the room. Most people puke before performing. Once I saw that I took ToastMasters public speaking classes for a couple years at night.
Secondly, I could write a whole paragraph without botching grammar. Glad I’d studied literature as my minor way back. Companies kill for clear communicators beyond 240 characters, IMHO.
Thirdly I’m funny. Don’t laugh. Making people smile, groan, or (occasionally) a lung guffawing is no joke when trying to be liked.
As for my software supremacy pointed out above. Folks, I’m part Luddite. Had to stay at work a bit late when needed to bone up, just to be two steps ahead of my supervisors. Then I oh so generously volunteered to teach ‘em. Bingo.
Differentiate Or Deteriorate
Looking for a lifeline to keep your job longer? Maybe get a raise and promotion or two? Do what I did.
Seek out areas critical to management where gaps currently exist. Grungy and unpopular are best. Claim one of those spaces like yours before someone else does. Go get real good at it. Read, take courses, practice after hours. Then brag about it to bosses.
Marketers call this “occupying a defensible niche.” I call it saving your ass by smartly selecting where to stand out.