How To Go Above And Beyond At Work For Career Success

Long days, short deadlines, and never-ending workplace demands will take their toll. And with the transition to remote work this past year, no doubt you’re feeling the impact. Still, with all that’s changing in the world of work, your career success depends on whether you go above and beyond or settle with mediocrity.

Let’s start with your “Why?” If you prioritize career success, you need to build career capital. This is what you exchange for the career of your dreams.

For example, if you want more balance, greater opportunities, more earning potential, work that is rewarding and fulfilling, and the power to design a career that works for you, you need career capital. And you build this capital by going above and beyond.

But if investing in your capital and, ultimately, your career success isn’t enough reason to go above and beyond, here are three more reasons why:

  1. First, jobs are highly competitive. Recruiters and decision-makers are searching for candidates who stand out from the pack and have a history of going the extra mile.
  2. Secondly, budgets are tight. when leaders evaluate their team for cutbacks, they lean toward retaining the most valuable employees—high potentials, hard workers, strong expertise, and those willing to go above and beyond.
  3. Additionally, and by no means finally, going above and beyond comes with the satisfaction that you are building your skills, career reputation, and self-respect.

So, how do you build your career capital?

Well, it isn’t rocket science, but it does take some foresight and effort to garner the aforementioned benefits and more. As success expert and legendary motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn said, “Do more than what you are paid for as an investment in your future.” Those who do stand out and make it a daily habit will soar.

To help you identify and formulate the practice of going above and beyond for career success, here are a few simple strategies:

1. Embrace Work Ethic

Buckle up friends, because going above and beyond is not a “one and done” activity. Rather, it’s a honed habit, nurtured over time that helps you stand apart from your colleagues and competition. Why? Because it’s a rare quality these days.

Going above and beyond is commonly known as “work ethic,” and work ethic means valuing and demonstrating good, quality, and hard work—sought after traits by employers. Too often, people look for shortcuts, the easy way, the magic bullet, and the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this has become the norm.

It takes effort to embrace work ethic, but if you show that you are willing to put in the work to get great results, your possibilities are endless.

2. Demonstrate Your Leadership

As Mark Sanborn’s book aptly puts it “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader,” and true leaders are people others want to follow.

Since leaders understand the importance of having a vision, they do the work necessary to realize that vision. When you know what your goals are—even if they are a little fuzzy—you have a target to shoot for. This not only helps you become more focused, productive, and more likely to achieve your desired outcomes but working on goals also demonstrates your leadership acumen.

Other leaders like that. They are drawn to it and when you can align your goals with those of others, there is no stopping you.

3. Take the Initiative

If you prioritize career success, then you will never utter the phrase “That’s not my job.” Ambition is all about stepping in when the opportunity presents itself. Look for ways in which you can make contributions to your team and your supervisor. This may require putting in some extra hours or even spending some time on projects that are not your own.

Regardless of what it is you offer to do, helping others succeed is the hallmark of a great leader, and it’s also a behavior that gets noticed for all the right reasons. While this altruistic behavior is always welcome and certainly bodes well for your career reputation, let’s be honest—it’s more inviting when it aligns with your goals.

Say that your boss is working on developing their strategic planning report. Knowing that you have an interest in moving up the ladder and that this may eventually be something you’re asked to do, why not offer your help, even if it’s just to listen and offer feedback or brainstorming support?

In doing so, you are learning a valuable skill and demonstrating to your superior that you are a leader who’s willing to go above and beyond for your career success.

4. Communicate Like a Pro

The one skill we all need to continually hone is communication. Written, verbal, and non-verbal, presenting, sales, negotiation, are all critical career success skills that fall under the umbrella of communication. And when you go above and beyond, you’re communicating like a professional. In other words, you’ve taken the time necessary to build this skill and ensure all your communication is clear, brief, timely, and professional.

A perfect example of this is how you handle emails. Brief and direct with outlined expected outcomes is the rule of thumb. While this may take extra time to prepare a well-written message, all your communication should serve a purpose and garner intended results.

Another way to go above in beyond is to be responsive. Most texts, emails, calls, and messages all warrant a response. Your reputation is not only tied to how thoughtfully you communicate but also on how you can always be counted on for a professional and timely reply.

Even better, make your response in person or pick up the phone and give someone a call. By doing so, you are not only demonstrating your professionalism but also that you’re willing to go above and beyond and handle matters confidently and directly. A “live” encounter offers the opportunity to add tone and clarity and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to create a win-win.

5. Develop Your Expertise

Success-minded individuals know the importance of continually honing their skills and expertise. If you want to go, you’ve got to grow.

Don’t wait for your supervisor to outline what training and conferences that you should attend. Go above and beyond by seeking opportunities for yourself. Start each month outlining what you will learn and the skill you plan to develop. Create a list of books, webinars, conferences, Ted Talks, courses, and mentoring opportunities to invest time in.

The good news is that most of these are free. Another compelling reason to create and engage in your own professional development plan is that it is a great way to build your network and impress your boss in your annual review.

6. Build a Valuable Network

Routinely connecting with your network, meeting new people, attending networking events, and engaging in informational interviews are all activities required for career success. And all of these interactions should be a mutually-beneficial interaction.

It’s not about what these folks can do for you but how you can serve one another, even if it’s just listening, brainstorming, or lifting someone’s spirits with a check-in call. Remember that your network is the lynchpin for elevating your career. These are the folks that will help you open doors. And being a gracious connection, you should do the same for them.

Building your network will also help you go above and beyond at work. When you can bring people together, it not only helps solve a problem but it also makes you look pretty good. People appreciate the extra effort and thought and will return the favor.

So, be a power connector—leveraging your network in ways that help others and connect like-minded individuals in the process of going above and beyond. Take your supervisor. If you know a key decision-maker whom they should meet or a vendor that could help them with a project, this effort will not go unnoticed.

Recently, I was connecting with my mentor regarding a project that he was working on and needed help with. Thankfully, I had someone in my network who could assist him and that introduction opened the door to an offer for collaboration. It’s not about exchanging a name for an outcome, but rather, building your reputation as someone who goes above and beyond.

Final Thoughts

Opportunities abound to build your reputation as a leader, expert, connecter, communicator, and trusted colleague. And these are the competitive character traits in demand today. While it’s not hard to hone these skills, they do require work and one small effort of going above and beyond each day will compound over time and increase your capital. After all, it’s the only way to grow and sustain a successful career.

More Tips on How to Go Above and Beyond at Work

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