Everyone is unique, our personalities, mixed with our environment, and everything that as been part of our lives in the past forge us to be who we are today. Many people have similarities of course, and those similarities are easily found at work when many share the same role. For example, working in a PMO with several project managers, it’s safe to assume you are not the only one who is organized (I hope so at least).
So when these similarities make you ‘blend in’, how can you become indispensable? How can you bring something different, something unique? In other words, what do you bring to the team that others don’t?
It can be anything
Let me re-use my example above; you are a project manager amongst others in a PMO, you are organized, you communicate well, you are pro-active, basically you are a typical ‘good’ project managers, just like your colleagues. You want to stand-out, but short of ‘being more organized’, you have no idea how you can achieve that.
You have to think outside the box, and avoid limiting yourself to ‘project management stuff’ because you are with project managers.
Amongst other things, you can try to mix things up with typical ideas from other roles For example, typical creative team will brainstorm using different methods to do so, and that is how they will most likely find their great idea. Project managers however, will tend to discuss in a more linear way. So how about bringing to the PMO to use brainstorms more often to find solutions to problems, or to find a new way to work?
By bringing in new ideas to the table like this, you will stand-out, and those ideas can open doors to other ideas. There are many other ways to stand-out: bring a positive energy of driving forward continuous improvement, encourage discussions on specific topics, get people to share more, etc. All these things can make you different, whether or not you are the very best project managers in every way, and it will make you indispensable.
One important rule, although very obvious, is that it must be unique, it must not be something that others do too, or you simply blend-in again.
Step out of your comfort zone, or not…
If you are lucky, your personality will let you bring a lot to the table while staying in your comfort zone, meaning, it will be easy for you and it will come naturally. Also, if you happen to be different from the team, right off the bat you may be able to bring lots to it.
It may not be the case for everyone, some may have nothing to bring ‘naturally’, or what they can bring is already there. The only way to stand-out will have to get out of their comfort zone. You know what? This is great because it opens new doors to become more, to surpass yourself.
How do you do it?
First you must know where you can focus your energy so identify what’s missing in the team. Discussions? Teamwork? Innovation? Templates?
Secondly, identify why it is missing. Is it because of lack of motivations from the others? Lack of time? Lack of clarity? Lack of experience? People scared to also step out of their comfort zone?
Third, make it happen. If innovation is not happening because it’s not clear that the team can or should, then be the driver of innovation in the team. Do not confuse with having to do the actual innovation, but if you clear the path for the others, they will see you as the leader of innovation because you made it possible! You may also need to make discussions happen, those annoying discussions the people procrastinate for various reasons, bring it back to the table over and over again, show people that it must be done.
Fall, get up, try again
Trust me, you will make mistakes! Encouraging huh? It should be 🙂
Everyone makes mistakes, meaning you will not be the underdog if you do, you will simply be human.
What’s really important is how you react after those mistakes. If you try to hide them, or blame someone else, then this is how people will see you, and standing out in a negative way is worse than blending-in. Instead, take responsibility, admit your mistake, learn from it, get up, and try again. That’s what people will remember. And you know what? That is one way of standing out of the crowd.
Standing out can be hard, especially if you are surrounded by qualified colleagues. It can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t. Everyone can bring something unique to the team if they want , you just need to make it happen.
How have you been able to stand out? What do you bring to your team? Share your stories!