Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5 Best Reasons to Overperform

Today I'd like to examine a fundamental feature of modern employment situations. For lack of a better term call it the:
Argument for "Overperformance"

Many of the authors of this blog are leaders of a business where one of the core values is "Excellence". There are many phrases that capture the spirit of this value – the one we use is "the extra mile" but others like "above and beyond", "110%", "aim to exceed expectations" and lots more are common in the modern workplace…

Since it is fairly obvious why an employer would want employees to go beyond the call of duty, we probably don't need to spend much time on that. What is far more interesting to consider is why an employee would want to work harder than "necessary" for an employer.

Firstly let's consider how the deck is stacked against the employer getting "110%" from employed individuals and teams:
  • The employer is likely only able to afford to pay 100% of the employee's salary
  • The employee likely has plenty of things he or she would rather be doing – i.e. stuff that is a lot more "fun" and isn't work
  • Time is pretty much everyone's most valuable asset these days and let's face it – the "extra mile" involves investing a lot of time
So why would an employee want to do more than the minimum job expectations? I can hear the cries... What's in it for me? Where's my reward? How do I get ahead? How is working hard for YOU going to get ME ahead?

If you think your employees aren't asking these questions you are wrong. So, what then are the answers? Why should people essentially "overperform" at their jobs?

Top 5 Reasons

Reputation: Reputation building starts long before one steps into their first job - and it never stops. Everyone knows a slacker, everyone knows a self–centred, 'all about me' buddy, and everyone knows the guy who works his ass off. Who do you want on your team? Who do you respect the most? Salaries change, job descriptions change, and people change careers but your reputation follows you everywhere you go. When it comes to our reputation we are the sole architects…

Opportunity: In employment situations there will always be opportunities – a chance to lead a new project, a chance to work with a prominent customer, a chance to manage a new product, a chance to fill a new role with more responsibility, a chance to buy the company when old bossman retires… These opportunities aren't tangible right now (because they are over the horizon), but you can bet that, just as the tide comes in and goes out again, these opportunities will be arriving with regularity. Who do you think gets the nod? It's not coincidence that the "lucky" people who get the great opportunities at work are usually the ones working their asses off when there is no one watching and no prize to be won.

Pride: The best don't "mail it in"… They are working hard to be the best or to remain among the best. The reward is the satisfaction they get in knowing that there is no better than them. If you are in a job where you really don't care about being 'the best' you should consider finding a new job where you feel driven to put forth your best effort. Your pride in the work you do will be your ticket to the top, or, if you are looking for a better role or a different role, the pride you show (by your effort) will be your ticket to the job you ultimately want. Of course not everyone will be the "best" on paper – but everyone knows if they are giving their best effort. If you are not giving your best effort at work you'll never know how high you could rise or how far you could go… in this case you are the one holding yourself back.

Connections / Networking: Has there ever been a time when "who you know" is more important? These days with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and every other social media connecting agent we all 'know somebody who knows somebody'. What this means is that any bridge you burn by putting forth a less than stellar effort is 10x more likely to come back around to prevent you from seizing "the prize" a month, a year or a decade later. It all links back to reputation and how yours is your most valuable asset or your biggest limiter. Imagine a server, waiting tables… who is that person sitting in front of you? They could easily be the driving force behind your next big opportunity…

Historical Results: Head down to the local bookstore, find the business section, pull up a chair and search for a book featuring an incredible success story involving anyone who just "punched the clock" and never went above and beyond. You might find one or two but the other thousand books on the shelf will confirm the fact that hard work, and effort "beyond the call of duty", might be the single factor common to more successful people than any other.

The list could easily be expanded to 10 or 15 items if really obvious things like raises, perks and so on were included. Not surprisingly, the employees working the hardest tend to get those too...



Anonymous said...

Well said.... Thanks

Gillian said...

Great Read!