Ten Things You Can Do To Impress People At Work

Another in a growing series of tips for a decent career in the workplace.  Other examples can be found here and here.

Working for the Man takes some doing. The workplace can be a political jungle, populated with hazards like vengeful Vice Presidents, ambitious underlings, and fearsome human resources trolls who are just waiting for a chance to eviscerate your career with razor-sharp talons.

Fear not, here’s the prototypical blog list of ten things you (yes, you!) can do to get ahead and impress people at work.  Some of them may require effort, some not so much.

#1 – Get Up Early. Up outta that warm bunk and hit the ground running, soldier!  The early bird catches the worm, or at least orders up the Starbucks Venti Latte-to-go way earlier than the other office rats.  Send emails at 5 a.m. or earlier, get to the office earlier and make sure people see you get there.  Not every day, but enough to make it noticeable.  Early is for go, late is for show.

#2 – Learn a skill … that’s relevant to the job you do.  If you’re don’t know jack about Excel pivot tables, and they could help creating or improving reports for your team, then do it.  If you’re a mere structural welder, get trained and certified to weld on pressure vessels.  Learn to type lightning fast. If you’re in marketing and don’t know much about social media, why the hell not?

#3 – Learn to speak in public… and do it well.  Countless corporate drones can read bullet points off Power Point slides, and gradually stupefy their audience into a coma.  Practice your speeches, learn to tell relevant and humorous anecdotes that make a point.  If you deliver knowledge and solutions  – and not just dry recitations – and make people laugh a little while you’re at it, people will remember you.  With any luck, it may just be people who can give you a boost down the road.

"Baking the bread" - Anders Zorn, 1889

“Baking the bread” – Anders Zorn, 1889

#4 – Cook for people.  That’s right, get in the kitchen and get your hands all floured up.  If you don’t already know how, learn to make a lunchtime dish that is easy, quick and delicious (*).  Then, schedule crucial meetings around lunchtime (the classic lunch-and-learn, or even a Brown Bag) and feed your “guests” some home-cooked food.  Food is expression of love, and you love your meeting guests so much that you cooked a meal for them, with your own two hands.  Or, you could just outsource it to someone who knows how to cook.  Then, if you have few scruples, lie about it.  Of if you’re Catholic, lie about it and then go to Confession, recite ten Our Fathers and be absolved.  In any event, you’re sharing the love,  providing a respite from dreary Subway sandwiches or yesterday’s leftovers.  It’ll be memorable.

#5 – Have good penmanship.  What a dying art fine handwriting seems to be.  A thank-you note written in elegant flowing script may not impress overmuch, but perhaps just that little bit you need to get remembered.

Fancy fountain pens, felt- or gel-tip, just make sure you rite good.

Fancy fountain pens, felt- or gel-tip, just make sure you rite good.

#6 -Dress Well.  Sharp, clean and well-pressed. Men, rid of those old fuzzy pilled-up sweaters, nix the frayed pants cuffs, and ditch the polyester slacks. Learn a modicum of color coordination.   Ladies, read some fashion magazines and pick outfits that complement curves.  Resist the temptation to show cleavage – it won’t help you.  It’s not that hard to dress appropriately, but too many people seemingly do it in the dark.

#7 – Move Fast.  Slouching around office hallways with a cuppa Joe won’t impress many people.  Stride briskly to and fro, even if it’s 2 p.m. and that Subway sandwich you had for lunch feels like a ten-pound brick.  Movement is energy, energy is money.

#8 – Do the little things QUICK.  Don’t let the minor things sit and moulder.  Even when “little people” who are far beneath you call or email, respond as soon as you can.  If it can be handled in less than two or three minutes, do it.  They’ll remember.

#9 – Get ripped.   This one is mostly for guys.   A rippling set of arm muscles is an asset, but it takes some time to build up, and it’s not for everyone (and certainly harder for women). It’s not good form to show off with tight shirts, either. But with the occasional discreet peek at a set of big guns, many will either consciously or subliminally impressed. If anything, it demonstrates motivation and discipline. If these are the only qualities that people associate with you, how is that not positive?  Just don’t let it go to your head.

#10 – Keep a diary … or write a journal, or write a personal blog.   Whatever.  Writing events and details down as they happen helps organize your thoughts, promote new ideas, and even help manage stress.  That’s not just me saying it, but any gaggle of psychologists on a simple web search.  But here’s what they won’t tell you.  The simple act of recording the day’s work events may help you recall an enemy’s misstatement on a particular day, or a colleague’s or boss’s bright idea a few months ago.  You may just gain a reputation for having a mind like a steel trap, and improve your penmanship to boot.

That’s it for today. Thanks for dropping in, and please click on the banner below. It’s good for the site.

(*) try making some homemade focaccia bread. This recipe has received universal accolades. For extra oomph, add some rosemary to the dough.

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Comments

  1. Re # 10 – One Note is great for this. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of everyday and type out a list of current projects and their statuses and any notes. (I do this where each week is given a note with entries for M-F.) The next morning, this will help guide your “to do” for the day, and because One Note notes are searchable, you’ll also have a place to go back and find answers to questions like “when was the last time we worked on X?”
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Your Money or Your Life – Making Peace With The Past

    • Hi Mrs. PoP, call me old-fashioned, but I prefer pen and paper. I have a planner from Lett’s of London for everyday notes, projects and to-do lists. It opens up on a weekly view, and although I use the Outlook calendar functions, I find that I refer to the paper copy more often. I’ve kept the diaries going back 15 years or so, and every once in a while it’s useful to go back and check what was in my head back then.

  2. On dressing, the old saying ‘Dress for the position you want, not the position you currently have’ is most apt!

    Also, always keep your word. Be someone people can trust. Don’t make promises that easily, but if you do, make sure you always keep your promise.

    Great tips 101C! …and welcome back!
    Moneycone recently posted..10 Questions You Must Answer To Stay On Top Of Your Portfolio

  3. Just an observation… but some of the younger women at my workplace look like they are either going out to a bar and hoping to get lucky or selling something other than their mad project management / excel skillz.
    Good to see you writing again Andrew!

  4. All great tips! I especially like the tip of doing little things quickly. People really do remember someone dropping everything for a quick turnaround.
    Done by Forty recently posted..One Case of Homelessness

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