Can You Over-Deliver? 4 Ways To Exceed Expectations At Work


High-performers can be counted on to deliver value, day in, day out.

In fact, superstar talent tends to exceed expectations regularly, and that’s how they get noticed by the powers-that-be.

The truism, “under promise, over deliver” has merit.

Even if the “promise” part is out of your hands because your position comes with an assigned task-list, it’s always possible to exceed expectations. Here’s how you can practice over-delivering this week to shine at work.

Think outside the box

Coming up with brand new creative ideas, or fresh combinations of existing ones, adds value to a business, project, or unit.

Think more creatively by getting out of your comfort zone and gaining new perspectives. Strike up conversations with those outside your field or market, ask questions and listen carefully to the responses.

Innovative ideas arise when you shift mindsets and put yourself in the client’s shoes. “Fall in love with your customers’ problems,” not your solutions, advises Andrew King of the University of Virginia, and you’ll be well-positioned to come up with saleable ideas and solutions based on existing needs.

Some of the best opportunities to stand out won’t involve tasks in your usual skill-set.

Once you have some fresh new ideas, test them with a bit of research, then practice your pitch for team members, supervisors, or senior management.

Be on time

For self-starters and entrepreneurial types, consistent punctuality is absolutely essential for communicating to higher-ups that you are trustworthy and prepared to be productive.

To get ahead, business coach Dan Kennedy advises you to “be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, as promised, without exception, without excuse, every time, all the time.”

Managing your schedule properly is part of managing others’ expectations, and it indicates that you can be counted on for higher-stakes projects and critical, time-sensitive tasks. So be on time, and deliver on deadline.

Or better yet, be early. Having work finished ahead of schedule always gets noticed.

Volunteer for extras

There are some tasks no one puts their hand up for. Be the one to get your hands dirty.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an intern, a middle manager striving to climb a corporate ladder, or even the CEO, this one’s for you.

“Do the jobs no one else wants to do,” advises LinkedIn author Creel Price, “tackle tough or inglorious tasks without complaint or promise of reward” and you’ll demonstrate your strong work ethic and leadership mindset.

People will take notice when you tackle unpopular tasks with a smile.

And while you’re at it, stay on alert for the pet projects that come down from the C-suite and grab ahold of those high-visibility opportunities.

Step up, own it, stand out

Differentiate yourself by delivering exceptional work products and performance, above and beyond expectations.

Too busy or slightly unmotivated?

At those times, the secret to feeling optimistic and inspired at work is adopting what Harvard Business Review author Heidi Grant Halvorson calls a “promotion focus” – a mindset concentrated on racking up the accomplishments and achievements that will get you noticed.

One easy way to find those promotional opportunities is to be on the lookout for tasks or projects you can take ownership of.

Own it, do it, and establish a reputation as the problem solver, “the one your boss associates with getting things done,” advises Tim Murphy.

In the process you’ll increase your value to the organization, and your job security.