Self-Assessment Quiz ─ TRUE or FALSE:

  1. I’m aware of how much extra work I can manage to take on at work.
  2. I enjoy being a team player and taking on leadership roles at work.
  3. Being more visible at work is in line with my career goals.

Do you want to shoot to the top in your career? Do you want to stand out to your boss? Do you want to be an exemplary employee that people trust and want work with? Add paper to the copier.

What the what?

Yes. Add paper to the copier! When you go the extra mile at work, whether you’re new to the company just starting out in the mail room or have advanced to assistant communications manager, people notice the little things you do, like helping the entire team by adding paper to the copier. Think about it, if everyone walks by the empty copier and grumbles, “That’s not my job!” what happens? Productivity slows down, people get irritated and team morale goes down just a tiny bit over something which takes two minutes to fix. By taking this sort of initiative, you’re actually showing everyone what you’re working with: fortitude, leadership, awareness, ability and desire to go the extra mile.

Depending on the situation, going the extra mile can feel like sucking up, but sucking up ain’t always a bad thing. Especially when done right. If you’re in a meeting and your boss asks for a volunteer to compile a spreadsheet of the attendees to last year’s company fundraiser gala, think about raising your hand. Sure, you’re busy like everyone else and clearly that ain’t your job because you work in finance and headcounts ain’t sales….BUT can it be? If you work on this list, you’ll have an inside look at who attended the fundraiser which means you’ll have an inside look at who gave funds or was open to giving. You can use this info to create ideas to get more sales for the company. Ding Ding! #Winning! You’ve just helped your boss (which through this project may also get you more career-enhancing face time with her) and who knows, maybe you’ve helped out Jill in event planning who would have jumped off a bridge if given one more project today. Jill may then give you her extra tickets to a gala fundraiser art opening which could mean networking and future growth for you!

Going the extra mile, isn’t of course always as easy as filling up the copier. Or volunteering for unassigned tasks. It’s thinking beyond what you were asked to do. Nothing pisses a boss off more than handing out assignments and getting back exactly that which was asked of the assignee. Confusing? Doesn’t have to be.

Look at it this way: bosses love working with team members who simplify her life the most. People who take the project they have been assigned and run with it. Make it their own. Without any drama or unnecessary complications. That PowerPoint deck from last year I asked you to update because I don’t have the time? You not only updated the charts that were outdated, but you animated the entire deck too? And added an appropriate video? You just made me look smarter than I am. I LOVE you for that! Compare this to your colleague who got the same task and sent me her comments embedded in the deck about the changes she suggests making, replete with five paragraphs for each comment justifying why she is suggesting these changes in the first place. Oy Vey. Bosses don’t need alla that! We don’t want to know all the background details you had to wade through to make the magic happen. We just want the magic. I don’t want to know it took you 15 emails to find the person who had the answer to your question. I don’t want to be copied on all 15 of those emails either! And I don’t want to know, unless I ask, that you stayed up until 4 am making that presentation literally sing. I just want the job done.  Really well. You become the bosses’ pet when you up the ante with badass moves such as this. And this shows up in our bonus conversations. I start looking at you differently and asking you what your career goals are. Because, now I’m vested in helping you move up. I can see your star power and potential. 

When you do that extra somethin’ somethin’ at work, you are demonstrating that you are a leader. Leadership is key to success and moving up the corporate ladder. (Pssst, here’s a quiz on leadership in case you’re wondering how you stack up in this department.) 

However, newbie, do be aware of being dumped upon. Some bosses carry that corporate culture of “churn and burn” where they throw so much work at the capable achievers like you that adds incredible stress and ultimate burnout. You don’t want this. Definitely consider the pros and cons of going the extra mile. If you have a boss who doesn’t appreciate you — or even worse doesn’t GIVE YOU CREDIT for all your hard work — you might need to take your ball and bat and head to a boss who isn’t afraid to let your star shine. Look to your career SMART goals to help keep you on track.

Now get on out there and start going beyond!

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