13 Ways To Go Above and Beyond at Work (With Examples)
Updated November 23, 2022
There are several ways to exceed expectations at work and benefit your team or organization. It's important to identify your strengths and develop effective time management skills to thrive. Learning strategies for going above and beyond your job expectations can help you improve your performance, impress your managers and advance your career. In this article, we explore what it means to go above and beyond, provide 13 ways you can do this effectively with helpful examples, and discuss how to use the STAR method to talk about how you went above and beyond in previous roles.
What does it mean to go above and beyond?
A supervisor is responsible for directing the activities of others and what they mean by going above and beyond is they appreciate when a team member takes the initiative and exceeds a target. Two types of targets that you may surpass are time and budget. Completing a task before it's due or saving the company money are two ways you can go above and beyond normal responsibilities at your work.
It's important to understand the company's expectations before you aim to exceed your requirements. For example, you might ask about overtime work and compensation for extra hours. Putting in extra effort at work may require more hours, but it's healthy to understand how your employer typically compensates their staff for additional work.
Read more: Importance and Common Types of Compensation
13 ways to try going above and beyond at work
To take the initiative and go above and beyond at work, you can use these 13 strategies:
1. Try new methods
When you try new methods, you demonstrate your ability to explore options and adapt to change. These are essential qualities to enhance as you develop skills to advance your career.
Example: If you're improving your proofreading skills, you might try using a screen reader to read your next assignment back to you as a new method to test.
2. Communicate an action plan
How you communicate your action plan affects how your team executes that plan. The more clear and concise you can share the information, the more likely it may go the way you plan.
Example: You might send your team members an agenda for the following meeting as a bulleted list of three items in addition to a long paragraph of points to appeal to different reading styles.
3. Understand what indicates good performance
When you understand your good performance indicators, it's easier to talk about how your team performs. Types of performance indicators include measuring the quality of a product or service or its accuracy and efficiency.
Example: You might keep track of star ratings or comments from clients or colleagues and review them with your team as part of a weekly meeting.
4. Negotiate your time
When you negotiate your tasks by priority of time, it's important to compare your tasks by the amount of time it takes to complete them. If you notice you're spending more time on some tasks than others, you can organize your schedule to accommodate this difference.
Example: You can start a time log at the beginning of your project and review your list after some time to assess which tasks take you longer than others. You can then determine where you can reallocate your resources to improve efficiency.
Read more: How To Prioritize Work Tasks
5. Emulate someone who is successful
When you emulate someone successful, you're choosing to mimic their best qualities and characteristics while making an effort to surpass their achievements.
Example: You might find a successful person in your industry by reading the news or a trade journal and making a note of their name and professional background. You can summarize a method they used well and think about how it can apply to something you're doing.
Read more: How to Find a Mentor Step by Step
6. Keep notes
Keeping notes might affect how long you retain information because, with clear messages, you can reference material you have already learned and build on your knowledge. You can keep a pen and paper next to your desk to write down important points you want to remember.
Example: When reading the news about your industry, you can write down the name of a company doing interesting work to reference later and discuss with your colleagues.
7. Actively listen
When you listen to someone, you can try to focus on what they're saying and show them you're engaged by nodding along. Being an attentive listener requires self-discipline and focus and is an excellent technique for going above and beyond. Actively listening can help you understand exactly what the speaker needs, making it easier to help them.
Example: You can listen to a customer and let them know you are hearing them by using affirmations like "I see," "I hear you," or "I understand."
8. Embrace challenges as opportunities
When you embrace a challenge as an opportunity, you demonstrate your resilience and ability to accept change. This can help you impress your managers as someone who goes above and beyond because it shows your positive attitude and ability to learn.
Example: If you encounter a challenging task that requires the use of a computer program you aren't familiar with, you can use this challenge as an opportunity to learn new software.
9. Write down your goals
When you write down your goals, you might be more likely to achieve them. You can address your short- and long-term goals by starting a list of items you want to achieve between three months and five years. Then, sort them based on how long each may take you. You can refer to these goals regularly as you work towards them to help you stay focused.
Example: Consider creating goals that suit the SMART framework, which ensures they're specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career
10. Deliver work before the deadline
How you deliver your assignments can reveal a lot about your work ethic and show your managers and colleagues that you're going above and beyond. By turning in work before the deadline, there's time for discussion and modifications, which can help improve the quality of the work.
Example: You can submit an assignment due on Friday to your manager on Wednesday, giving them two extra days to review the work.
11. Thank people
Sending a thank-you message is also an excellent way to build your professional relationships. It shows appreciation for the person you're communicating with and can make them feel valued.
Example: You can send a message after hosting an event to thank everyone who contributed to organizing it, letting them know you value their hard work.
12. Learn a new skill
How you learn new skills can show that you're dedicated to professional development and want to go beyond the requirements of your role.
Example: You might take a public speaking class to hone your skills or volunteer to lead your team's next project update presentation to the senior management team.
13. Offer your assistance
When you offer assistance to someone, you can help them be more productive, which goes above and beyond your job requirements.
Example: You may finish a project early and have some free time but notice your colleague is struggling to finish their tasks. You can offer your assistance and complete some of their tasks to reduce their stress and help the team succeed.
How to talk about going above and beyond in an interview
To talk about a time when you went above and beyond at work can be simple if you follow the STAR interview response technique because it's an acronym to remember the situation, task, action, and result:
The situation describes the context. You can offer background information to describe the case or problem. Use the mission statement of the company and relate it to your role. For example, the company's mission is delivering the best customer service, and your role is prioritizing complaints when they arrive as tickets.
The task relates to your responsibilities during the situation and how you meet your goal. In this case, it's important to note you are going above and beyond how you complete your task. For example, if your task is to open tickets from customers and sort them based on sensitivity and urgency, maybe you've sorted the most tickets because you developed an efficient system.
The action illustrates how you overcame a challenge or what you did to improve the task. It's important to highlight the necessity for action. For example, tickets marked as low priority waited in queues that never emerged, and you decided to take action 10 minutes each day and close those tickets.
The result happens because of the action you take, and it's how you can show you went above and beyond basic requirements. It's important to emphasize the success of your efforts. For example, by spending less than one hour a week handling low-priority customer tickets, you cleared the backlog in one month, and the customer service department exceeded its performance indicators for the quarter.
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