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Boost Your Work Performance to the Next Level
by Mary C. Schaefer

Whether you are new to your job or a veteran, it's always the right time to look at ways to boost your work performance, so your boss and co-workers wonder how they ever got along without you!

1. Nail Down the Fundamentals.

Whether you are new to your job, or have been in the chaos for a long time, you might find yourself wondering at times, what's important (and what's not...)?! If you are feeling overwhelmed, or like you are never going to catch-on, you might want to take a moment to regroup. It's imperative to take some time to get clear on the baseline for what is expected of your position. Only then can you make realistic choices about how you are going to enhance your performance in a way that works for you and your employer both.

- Know what success looks like for your position -- ask your boss and others you trust, and then deliver on what's expected!

- Clean up your own messes. Know when to notify your boss and when to ask for help. Being a hero doesn't always work out in your favor.

2. Make Your Relationship With Your Boss Work FOR You.

Whether we have a boss we think we can work with or not, it is worthwhile to consider how to make the best of it. After all, despite the fact that you might not like or even respect your boss, your boss's opinion matters... and has a significant impact on your earning, enjoyment of your work, and future employment.

As we work through this, you may find yourself resisting some of the points. Before you totally reject any of them, consider what you might learn by following through. Just because you do, it doesn't mean you have to "buy" what your boss is saying, if you do not agree. But at least you know what you are dealing with. Even though you may not like the conclusions you come to, this knowledge is power!

Some key points to consider when you are thinking about how to navigate this working relationship include:

- Know what your boss views as success for your position.

- Get agreement on your work objectives and how they will be measured.

- Know what your boss thinks you should already know.

- Know your boss's hot buttons, what she always looks for, what he never ask about.

- Put it in terms that influences your boss buy-in.

3. Distinguish Yourself.

This may be a no-brainer, but just in case... People like to work with people who are helpful and low-maintenance. Yes, there are people who will take advantage of you and will not respond to your generosity or courtesy. I'm not suggesting you be a fake or a doormat.

What I am suggesting is that by following some simple rules, which will allow you to get things done more quickly and smoothly than you ever thought possible. You can become the person that your management and co-workers know they can count on to get things done, on time and well, without requiring them to give it another thought. And... even if you do make a slip, you can maintain and even build others' respect for you (and desire to be cooperative), by making things right, quietly and without drama.

As you consider upgrading your behavior and work performance in this area, consider these "rules."

- Don't complain about the non-negotiable, for example, if you don't like the rule about submitting travel expense reports within 10 days, comply or work to change that, but don't only complain.

- Don't make people come after you about perfunctory requirements, e.g. completing travel expense reports or taking your turn running the staff meeting.

- Quietly volunteer to do conventionally unattractive tasks, e.g. organizing a safety meeting, presenting work environment training, etc.

- Make your boss's and your co-workers' jobs easier every chance you get.

- Improve your chances of others cooperating with what you need from them by sending gracious reminders, such as, "I know you probably have a lot on your plate, and..." or creating streamlined and understandable instructions to get the task done.


Yes, these points may seem like common sense, and as we all know, analyzing our behavior objectively and changing it, is easier said than done. If you want to give your work performance a boost, and give yourself an edge, there are several resources that you can turn to. I recommend you:

- Improve your emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ). I believe this is what will distinguish truly valuable work performance from "so-what," expendable performance in the future. I think it is what distinguishes it now, but not many are acknowledging it yet... [See books by Daniel Goleman.]

- Seek out development and training opportunities in your workplace -- take all the opportunities you can to get to know your strengths, inclinations and foibles better. Also take opportunities that allow you to learn how to get along with the broadest variety of people as possible. (Tip -- don't become a development junkie at the expense of keeping your work performance high.)

- And (you knew this was coming...), get a coach. This involves seeking a partner in improving your work performance and your career prospects -- a partner who is invested in only you, and has no other agenda, which a boss, mentor or co-worker may have... A coach can help you go deeper into any of the ideas listed above, and strategize about how to make them work for you.

Copyright 2005, Mary C. Schaefer. All rights reserved.

Mary C. Schaefer,,

Mary is President and Lead Consultant at Artemis Path, LLC, a Human Resources and Organization Development Consulting, Career Coaching company.

With 20 years of corporate experience, Mary also has a Master's degree in Human Resources, is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and certified as a coach (ACC) and is the author of the *Ten Ways to Survive Your Current Job* e-booklet.

Mary C. Schaefer may be contacted at or


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