Remarkable employees spend significant time helping other people succeed: their company, their employees, and their customers.
But remarkable employees also spend a little time helping themselves succeed, both for "selfish" reasons and because their success creates success for others.
Want to stand out from the crowd? Here are some great ways:
1. Be first, but with a purpose.
Many people try to be the first to arrive each day. That's great, but what do you actually do with that time? Organize your thoughts? Get a jump on your email?
Instead of taking care of your stuff, do something visibly worthwhile for the company. Take care of unresolved problems from the day before. Set things up so it's easier for other employees to hit the ground running when they come in. Chip away at an ongoing project others ignore.
Don't just be the one who turns on or off the lights – be the one who gets in early or stays late in order to get things done. Not only will your performance stand out, you'll also start to...
2. Master a specific -- and valuable -- skill.
Meeting standards, however lofty those standards may be, won't help you stand out.
So go above the norm. Be the leader known for turning around struggling employees. Be known as the employee who responds quicker, acts faster, or always follows up.
Pick a worthwhile mission and then excel at that mission.
3. Create your own side projects.
Excelling at an assigned project is expected. Excelling at a side project -- especially one you created -- helps you stand out.
4. Put your effort where your mouth is.
Lots of people take verbal stands. Few take a stand and put actual effort behind their opinions.
Say you think a project has gone off the rails; instead of just pointing out its flaws so you can show everyone how smart you are, jump in and help fix it.
Everyone talks about problems. The people who help fix problems are the few who stand out.
5. Show a little of your personal side.
Personal interests help other people know and remember you. That's a huge advantage for a new employee or a company competing in a crowded market.
Just make sure your personal interests don't overshadow professional accomplishments. Being "the guy who does triathlons" is fine, but being "the guy who is always training and travelling to triathlons so we can never reach him when we need him" is not.
Let people know a little about you; a few personal details add color and depth to your professional image. (Plus it makes you a lot more likeable.)
6. Work harder than everyone else.
Nothing – nothing – is a substitute for hard work.
One way you can always stand out -- regardless of talent, experience, or skill -- is by outworking everyone else.