How to Be an Extraordinary Employee

If you want an extraordinary income, you have to transform yourself into an extraordinary worker. Here are six ways to do that:

1. Get in early. There is no better way to demonstrate your commitment to your company than by getting to work earlier than everybody else. Getting to work early sends a good message: “I’m here! I am eager to work! I’m ahead of the crowd!”

2. Understand your responsibilities. Until you understand how what you do affects your boss’s bottom line, you’ll never be able to make good decisions about which projects to focus on. The best way to do that is to make an appointment with your boss and ask him, “What are the top 10 ways I can make your job more successful?” Don’t worry about seeming like a kiss-up. Tell him that you realize your chances of success depend on his success. “I’m not asking for specific to-dos,” tell him. “Once I know your main objectives, I will be able to make good decisions on my own. That’s why I’m asking. Because I want to make sure that my work plan is in gear with yours.”

3. Focus on what’s important. List your boss’s top 10 priorities. Then identify two of them that will have the greatest impact on his success. (Keep in mind that he may not know what is most important for him. After working with him for a while, you may have a better idea than he does.)

4. Never say “No.” Employees often wonder whether saying “yes” to every request will make them look weak or dependent. The answer? No. Your boss wants a “yes” to every request he makes of you. Saying “no” – though sometimes warranted – may sound to him like you are moving against him. But … if you have already established a list of priorities by taking steps two, three, and four, you’ll have no problem identifying requests that are low on his list. When asked to do something of that nature, tell your boss that you will be happy to get to it at some time in the future, but at the moment you are working on things that you believe he’d rather see done. Then tell him what those things are. Chances are, he’ll modify or even drop his request. If he doesn’t, you can expect there is a good reason why.

5. Improve your skills. Unless you keep growing – in terms of your knowledge and skills – you can’t expect your income to keep rising. Ask questions about every aspect of your business that is related to what you do. Find out what you can about the other areas – especially sales and marketing. Read executive memos. Take work-related courses. Have regular chats about business with the power people in your business. Implement what you learn in your work.

6. Communicate your progress. Unless you let your boss and other powerful people at work know about your accomplishments, you can’t be sure they will help you. Make it a habit to update your superiors, in writing, on the challenges you face and the accomplishments you’ve made.

In promoting yourself professionally, follow these three rules: Tell the truth. False promotion is worse than none at all. Be generous with credit to others. When reporting accomplishments, be specific and keep your ego in check.

(Ed. Note: This article was excerpted from Michael Masterson’s newest book, Automatic Wealth for Grads … and Anyone Else Just Starting Out. Turning yourself into an extraordinary employee is just one aspect of Michael’s advice to help you develop your own plan for financial independence.)

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
  • Kevin Johnson

    I appreciate the advice in this article. And was wondering if you would consider re-publishing it with a more even distribution of gender for the boss. The article only positions the boss as a man throughout. Over the fifteen years of my career so far, I’ve reported to more women bosses than men and have heeded your advice to make all of my bosses successful. I would enjoy this article with a more even-handed consideration of men and women as the boss. Thanks for considering!