You’d probably be lying to yourself if you said you’ve never gone into a new job and resolved to outperform your team’s expectations. You have plenty of good ideas and want everyone to know that you’re a genius of sorts.
Most of the time, that mindset’s great for your career—it pushes you to be your best day in and day out. But, the problem is that some people think that motivating themselves this way gives them permission to push their teammates around.
While your company hired you because you bring something unique to the table, that doesn’t give you license to be condescending about it. So, if you want to convince your co-workers that you perform above your pay grade, here are a few mindsets you should adopt ASAP.
1. You’re Excited to Chip In, But You’re Willing to Learn First
Whether you’re new or have been on your team for a while, it’s perfectly fine to come out and say that you’re eager to pitch in on initiatives that are outside your realm of responsibilities.
However, even if you have a few thoughts about how things could be done differently (or even better), it’s important to take a step back and ask the stakeholders involved to walk you through how they got things done in the past. I’m confident that you can help your (new) teammates do their jobs better, but if you don’t have context for the processes that have worked in the past, you’ll have no clue what elements need optimizing before you dive in.
2. You’re Willing to Tackle Projects You Haven’t Done Before
Here’s where you should feel free to jump on an opportunity to go above and beyond. How many times have you come across a project that nobody on the team is interested in taking? And how many times have those projects gone undone for extended periods of time, only for the company to figure out that it’s crucial to everyone's success?
As annoying as this might sound, those irritating little projects are the perfect combination of a personal opportunity for you, and a win for the entire team. Plus, volunteering to take these bothersome tasks on is an excellent way to build trust with your team—without rubbing anyone the wrong way.
And as a bonus, once you've taken care of the less desirable tasks, you can move on to making an even bigger impact through the projects that you were excited about doing when you accepted the job.
3. You’ll Go Out of Your Way to Learn How Your New Team Works Together
In my experience, it takes a lot of confidence for someone on a team to openly ask how people prefer to collaborate—especially when he or she is looking for a way to communicate their ideas to optimize things. It’s never easy in any circumstance to admit that you don’t know something, and it’s particularly tough for someone who wants to go above and beyond to start a conversation with that.
However, take these instances as opportunities to show your entire team that you have some ideas to make their lives easier, but that you also want to take the time to learn whether or not those ideas make sense. It’s great that you have a few thoughts about how everyone around you can get things done more efficiently, but before you do that, make sure you have a good understanding of how they’ve done them before.
Hey, I get it. Nobody wants to take a job and just phone it in for the sake of a paycheck (and if you have gotten to that point, it's probably time to start looking for a new job).
However, this motivation can severely damage your working relationships before you have a chance to make a significant impact on the entire team. While you might want to come in and just blow everything up, take a deep breath and remember that the team was operating fairly well before you arrived.
You were brought in because you have some great ideas, but unless you replaced a former CEO, the odds are that the company didn't hire you because everything sucked and you need to save everyone from themselves. So keep these mindsets in, well your mind, and you’ll be sure to impress people at your new job without upsetting anyone.
Photo of co-workers courtesy of Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author