Employees who consistently exceed their targets are the most desirable “keepers” even during downsizing. And, during plant closings, they often are the last to be let go.

Until someone gets into American politics who can absolutely shake up the mess left to America by the CLINTON, BUSH, and Obama administrations, you are on your own and you ought to do everything in your power to make yourself a more valuable employee.  [Use my search engine to look up my previous Nugget titled, “28 Tips: Become more Valuable”.] When given objectives and goals by your manager, they become your expectations. You are expected to hit those goals and objectives. Failing to do so will give managers the rationale for allocating you to the bottom 10% or bottom 20% during performance appraisals, a list referred to as “bottom performers”. Bottom performers are almost always the first employees to be kicked out onto the street.

What follows are a few useful and practical tips to help employees to far exceed expectations.

  1. CHUNK IT. Everything starts with some good, solid, hard, in-depth analysis and data gathering. Clearly articulate your objective and break it down into smaller chunks, pieces. It is always easier to win the smallest battle than the largest war.
  2. DEFINE THE PROBLEM FOR EACH CHUNK. Take each piece and analyze it thoroughly. Each will have a core element that once mastered will speed your path to a clear solution. Do each chunk extremely well, and in a timely fashion. In this way, “the sum of the parts will indeed be greater than the whole”.
  3. PLAN EACH CHUNK. Don’t just run out and achieve the obvious. Think it through. There is almost always two paths to the end result, the obvious way and the better way. Though it is often expeditious, time-wise, to do the obvious, that may not net the impressive outcome that so impresses upper management. Think, then choose your path, but plan it carefully, even if it is the obvious path. Either way, either path you choose, you MUST WRITE DOWN your action steps. Without a written plan you will have nothing to which to compare this and future like scenarios and outcomes. By referencing your written plan , and particularly what works and what doesn’t work,  you accelerate your learning curve which will pay off handsomely for future projects.
  4. PULL THE TRIGGER. You must act. You can’t think and plan forever. You can’t merely talk a good story. You have to be accountable and responsible enough to create forward momentum. Do something. Even if you fail, you will learn from your actions and can take corrective steps to bring the initiative back on course.  Act.
  5. DELEGATE. This is a confusing concept to the uninitiated. But those who “get it” can multiply their results and achievements many fold. You don’t have to be a manager or an executive to invoke this concept of delegating. Merely look around you. There almost always is a colleague who is more qualified than you are at certain tasks and colleagues who owe you a favor. [By the way, if you don’t have colleagues who owe you favors then you have not been as helpful to others as you should be.] There almost always is a person in your company who is a specialist in a certain department that can look up information faster and better than you can. Can your Technical Service people teach customer “A” about a new application while you spend that same time working at customer “B” to close the sale there? [This is a good time to this search box to search for my Nugget, “Move Your Fulcrum Off That Chair”.]
  6. DODGE ENERGY VAMPIRES. In every company, on every team, you will find people who dwell on the negative, or like to gossip, or like to rally complainers. Avoid those people. You only have time for people who can contribute to your success. This also applies to your “off hours”. The people you socialize with are as important as the people you work with. Positive thinkers help you to recharge your own “battery” better, faster, and longer, while negative thinkers merely drain your energy.
  7. IT’S ABOUT APPROBATION AND GRATTITUDE. Express it in meaningful ways. If someone does help you, be sure to let that person, and their superior, know that you appreciated it. An email to express praise takes only seconds but can create bonds that will last an entire career. As you succeed and as you rise through the ranks of the corporate ladder, you will discover a growing number of people who will be proud to have contributed to your success. Express your gratitude, but don’t commit to promises you can’t keep. Praise and thanks are sufficient.
  8. CONVENE. As you make progress, or even as you suffer failures along the way, hold a meeting, much like the military does, to debrief your contributors of your actions, issues and opportunities. I’m referring to those who are helping you, but not your boss. This is not a performance appraisal.  This is not a report to your boss. Instead, this is a call for help but not called such. People are your greatest source of ideas. Best ideas come from the colleagues who want to help you. Invoke their creativity to help yourself to  succeed.