Being a high performer at your job isn’t just about working hard, long hours. It’s about working smart and making sure you get the credit for your hard work.
Sure…being the first one in and the last one out may get you noticed as someone who puts in a lot of hours, but it may also backfire. Many senior leaders don’t see the long hours as a good thing. Instead, they see it as someone who is unable to manage their workload and unable to create a work-life balance.
In fact, they would see you as someone who’s not good at her job.
Don’t get me wrong. Working smart does not exclude you from working hard or from working long hours. If you’re young and ambitious, you better be working your ass off. However, don’t put in the long hours and the unappreciated grunt work without knowing why you’re doing it and knowing where that hard work will take you in the long run.
Working smart is about delivering the most bang for every hour you spend on a task or project.
A Buddhist Zen koan (puzzle) asks: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
This philosophical thought experiment raises an important point on reality vs. what is perceived to be real. The corporate world, like that forest, is a perfect example of where perception is stronger than reality. Said another way, being a hard worker is nothing if others around you don’t see and acknowledge your efforts. So, to be truly hard working, you’ve got to make sure people around you, especially senior leaders and decision makers, see that you are a hard worker.
A high performer does this by focusing his energies on delivering more than the two people in the next cubes and by choosing to work on projects and tasks that have the most visibility. Below is a high level breakdown of how to work smart and get the exposure you need for career growth.
Manage your most important resource – Your Time
How does one work smart? Quite simply, by effectively managing your time.
Your time is the most important resource that you own. And by the way, it’s very limited! As cliché as it sounds…every passing moment is lost to you forever. Do not wasting it on low impact tasks.
Now I realize that most of us have jobs that require us to spend week-after-week, month-after-month doing the same thing over and over. Whether it’s a finance role tied to the quarterly calendar or some analyst type of role where you’re producing the same reports over and over. You can’t avoid those “busy”cycles. What you can do, is to minimize the amount of time you spend performing manual tasks. Figure out ways to automate or remove any repetitive, low level tasks or any complex processes that don’t seem to have a direct benefit. If nothing else, look for ways to delegate.
By doing this, you and your brain will be available to readily tackle that high impact, high visibility project sitting on your boss’s lap.