Heading into the world of gainful employment is not the most comfortable transition, but it’s something we all experience. Day one of work, we start to get a feel for the office dynamics and scratch the surface of what our responsibilities will be. Days and weeks go by, and we continue to learn what we’re doing day in and day out, and soon enough, we’re settled into the daily grind. Chances are though, that’s not enough. As a group, millennials are clock punchers. We want to be growing in our leadership, our skill sets and start to go above and beyond!

Only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, with the remaining 71% either not engaged or actively disengaged.

Over the first few months and sometimes even longer, it’s easy for us to still be seen as the new guy or girl. It’s easy to think of us as just a kid who’s getting their feet wet. And if that’s how we’re viewed, we won’t be seen as the leader we know we’re capable of being.

However, here are a few ways to expedite that process and get your coworkers and boss to think of you as an integral part of the team and not just the latest hire.

1. Always say “yes…and”

You’re going to be asked to do a lot of things in your career. However, those requests will become few and far between as time goes on if you become a person that defaults to “no.” But a “yes…and” response gets you to the forefront of people’s minds and soon makes you a go-to player.

“Yes…and” doesn’t always mean doing whatever is asked of you. “Yes…and” tells people that you hear and understand what they need, and while you might not be the person to get it done, their issue matters to you. You hear someone and respond with “Yes…and I’d love to point you in the right direction.”

The positive response makes people want to work with you and want to trust you!

2. Know what’s going on

If you want to take your “yes…and” response to the next level, you’ll actually know what’s going on! I’m not talking about the office gossip, though. I’m talking about the real things that your organization has going on. If you can become someone who knows what’s going on in the work world, people will come to you more and more for trustworthy information. Soon enough, you’re the person that can be trusted and deserves to move up. You already have a grasp of what’s going on everywhere, so why wouldn’t your leaders want you to lead some of those things?

However, don’t stay apprised by snooping or eavesdropping. No one likes someone who learns things dishonestly, and that’s one way to certainly not get ahead. Just by simply remembering the things you’re told and caring enough about coworkers’ areas of operation, you’ll know plenty and be able to be a hub.

3. If you don’t know, then find out

Chances are if you take the first two points to heart, you’ll have the chance to lean in more and more as coworkers want to keep you on board with what’s going on. But that will also mean that you’re going to get asked something you don’t know the answer to. Instead of just being ok with not knowing, find out! You’ll make a lot of friends around the organization if you take the initiative to do some searching for answers instead of just saying, “I don’t know.”

Outside of making friends, you’re going to show everyone around you that you have some initiative, and that initiative doesn’t just apply to your job description! When it comes down to it, promotions, trust and leadership are given oftentimes because of the commitment and ability to go above and beyond that tip the scales in your favor!

4. Solve the problem, don’t just complain

This goes hand in hand with finding out answers. There are inevitably things that are going to frustrate us at work, and we end up having a choice to make. We can either complain about what’s going on. We can exchange frustrations and grievances with coworkers and maybe even our boss. But if you want to get ahead of the curve, you won’t fall into the complaining trap. Instead, you’ll just go ahead and fix the problem.

By fixing problems you feel, you’ll surely be making some others lives easier, as well. Don’t hesitate to share the problems you fix so that others can benefit! Your leaders will see the initiative you’re taking and the innovation you’re providing, and they’ll want that innovation to spread all over the organization!

5. Do the garbage work

We all know the tasks that no one wants to do around the office. There are jobs that everyone avoids like the plague, eventually your boss gets frustrated that no one is doing it, and then someone gets assigned what needs done and said person grumbles. Being new to the team, you’ll get assigned a lot of these tasks. But if you take on some of those things without having to be asked, those around you will take notice. Just step up to the plate and get it done. If you can prove that you are a person who just gets stuff done, you’ll gain a lot of respect from your leaders and coworkers. Those who can be trusted with little will be trusted with much, after all!

6. Serve up compliment sandwiches

This is one that I learned from some of the awesome leaders that I get to work with. The compliment sandwich is the best thing on the menu when it comes to having a tough conversation. Knowing that a person isn’t going to like the negative feedback you have with them makes tough conversations a dreaded occurrence for many. However, start with a genuine compliment, followed up by the tough part and finish it off with another genuine compliment. Complimenting others will let them know that they aren’t just screwing up the whole time and that they are doing a great job while still having room to improve! It’ll make you a lot more friends along the way, as well!

7. Learn from others in your organization

Recognizing that you have much to learn will gain you a lot of respect from the people you work with. Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially when they’re new. If you take the attitude of a learner, you’ll realize that there are many people around you that have a wealth of knowledge! Don’t let the opportunity slip by to learn from these people. Learning from some experienced vets will result in you learning more and more ways to be successful in your craft and organization. Learning from others is going to only grow the number of ways that you can get ahead at work!

Taylor Snodgrass works as the Multi-Site Creative Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife, Heather. He is passionate about being a constant learner and leading others to excellence in the church and their every day lives. He is also the co-founder of Pixel Kit Media, which exists to help the church cut through all the noise in our world with affordable, cutting-edge design elements.
  • Hi Taylor, interesting post. How does the important work done if you’re saying “yes and…” as you mentioned in #1? Seems like this would just lead to busyness and overwhelm. You may get promoted, but I can’t see how you would/could have any boundaries.