Many companies use a rating system for employees in performance appraisals that puts them in classes like A,B,C or 1,2,3. The As and 1s are reserved for the very best employees or as it is frequently put, those whose work exceeds expectations. The Bs or 2s are for people whose work meets expectations and the Cs or 3s are for those whose work does not meet expectations. Simple eh? The problem is that no on knows what Meets Expectations means when compared with Exceeds Expectations. Many employees think that when they are doing their job very well as described in their job description, they’ll get an Exceeds Expectations. Sorry, doesn’t happen.

The difference between Meeting Expectations and Exceeding them is Initiative

The secret to being an A employee, a 1, or an Exceeds Expectations and thereby getting a promotion, raise or bigger bonus means doing more than what was expected of you at work. That means you must do more than what was in your job description. If someone tells you to do something and you do it, even if you do it very well, you are still only Meeting Expectations. That is because you are expected to do what you are asked to do and you are expected to do it very well or you wouldn’t be working there very much longer.

To do more than what was expected of you at work, you need to use initiative. That means you must find something important that needs to be done and is not part of your regular job and do it. That’s all the difference between an A and a B, initiative.

Try this at work:

Find some small thing that people recognize is a problem and fix it. It could be as simple as finding a better way to deal with contact information, a better way to keep track of projects, a better way to get approval for expenditures.

Once you have picked this thing to improve, then fix it and let everyone know what you have done and why. This communication is not for tooting your own horn but to make sure the change is implemented by everyone. You might have to remind them several times.

After you’ve tried out this initiative once, keep doing it. Find something else to fix or start and start it. Keep doing small things that are outside the scope of your job and then start making those things bigger. Work up to major projects and pretty soon you’ll be noted for your initiative.