Virender Kapoor is the former director of Symbiosis Institute of Management and has a thing or two to tell you about making a positive impact at the workplace.
If you are reading this at the end of a disappointing round of appraisals, chances are you'll scoff at most of these things.
But if you really give it a thought, you'll probably agree that just working hard isn't enough. Perception is equally important.
Several of these things may appear to be trivial but you can take my word for it that they leave lasting impression on your bosses.
These are the most tangible intangibles.
You may be working as hard as everyone else or harder but if you don't manage perception you will most likely miss the boat.
90 per cent of your colleagues won't take this seriously. So use this to your advantage.
So here are 10 ways to make a positive impact at the workplace.
1. Be punctual
This is the easiest thing to do but if not done it can offend a lot of people.
Make it a habit to be at the meeting or at your desk ten minutes before the scheduled time.
People who are punctual are always respected.
Cross your heart and ask how many times you've missed a flight because you are late? Very rarely right?
If you can be at the airport on time why can't you be on time for a meeting?
2. Deliver before time
Never let your boss remind you about your assignment.
Use notes, post-its; use the calendar on your phone or your desktop; post multiple reminders.
Importantly, don't procrastinate.
Practice time management and learn to prioritise.
Have a good judgement of work-time load.
And always keep some buffer time.
3. Learn to give an interim response
There will be times you won't be able to turn in an assignment on time.
Things like these happen.
Instead of waiting till the last minute to tell your boss about the delay, give her/him an early heads up.
Explain the reason why it will be delayed so s/he can give her/his superior a sufficient heads up too.
4. Be responsive
Several of us just refuse to acknowledge emails.
It is not only one of the rudest things to do but it also leaves the other person in the dark about whether you've received her/his email. Or if you have and you don't approve.
Remember, someone has taken the trouble to write to you. The basic courtesy you can extend to that person is by acknowledging her/his email (or a text message for that matter).
Then there are people who tell you they didn't see your call... on their mobile phone!
I refuse to believe such people; how can you not see a missed call on your mobile phone screen?
Have the courtesy to not assume that the other person is a fool.
5. Contribute that extra ten per cent
This may sound like some management gyaan but trust me it is not.
Everyone gets paid to add two and two to four.
The ones that stand out are those who make two and two to five!
Don't do only just what you are asked to do.
Go beyond the call of duty; take that little extra step.
Very often it doesn't take a lot but it goes a long way.
Apply your mind and surprise your boss.
Learn to move outside the scope of your comfort zone and expand the scope of your functioning. The only person it will benefit is you -- either in this job or your next.
6. Be nice; be presentable
Remember, your reputation precedes you so be nice to the people around (and beneath) you.
Hold out the door for your female colleagues; stand up when someone comes by at your desk to speak with you, say thank you, wish people... little things but they go a long way.
Bosses and peers rely on feedback of others.
So, ensure that you dress up well and be presentable.
Use a good aftershave and perfume.
Never be dishevelled.
7. Get organised
People who are organised are always looked up to.
These are small things but they go a long way:
- Carry a notepad and a pen; don't ask someone else for it. It's just terrible.
- De-clutter your drawer and your desk.
- Keep the place around you tidy; it will most certainly help you thing and work better.
8. Attract work
Never say this is not my job.
Ask for more work. Expand your scope.
Money and promotion will come. No one will make you work for free.
When you shoulder more responsibilities, you automatically gain more authority.
At the same time, ensure you make people around you know that you are indeed going beyond your call of duty.
More work cannot be ignored.
9. Don't play politics
Bad word gets around fast.
The more negative things you speak, the more are the chances you will screw it up.
Don't indulge in politics to begin with.
Politics might help you get to a higher post in your organisation but it won't help you get very far in your career; know the difference.
10. Manage your ego
This one's a no brainer but more often than not one that gets in the way of all the good work you do.
Ego gets the better of you.
Ego clashes are harmful professionally. And the endless hours of fuming that precedes and succeeds such a clash doesn't really do anything good for your health either.
Instead, learn to diffuse a situation if there is an argument.
Learn how to re-track or diplomatically get out of the situation.
Ego comes in the way of a good appraisal.
Remember, you can never get a perfect fit in a job.
Life is full of compromises.
The best you can do is deal with it in a manner that will be beneficial to you and your career.
Virender Kapoor is the former director of Pune's Symbiosis Institute of Management and the founder of Management Institute for Leadership and Excellence.
Photograph (used here for representative purposes only): Premshree Pillai/Creative Commons