How to stand out at work

Underpromise, overdeliver

It's always a good idea to manage the expectations of your superiors. Ask for a clear definition of expectations, promise what's expected and then dazzle them with the results.

Promising less than you suspect you can deliver is a tricky task, "most effective for someone in a new position and who may not yet be aware of some of the obstacles to achieving his or her goals," says Chuck Dresner, a publishing industry consultant with Two Dogs Publisher Services in Cambridge, Mass.

Dresner says he once intentionally forecast modest sales growth while he was trying to gain the attention of chain and independent booksellers. He ultimately beat his own projections significantly.

"We blew our forecasts away. I was a star that year," Dresner says.

"You can’t use this strategy more than once or twice, or you're (rightly) perceived as being afraid to stretch," Dresner says. "But after a year in a job, it probably isn't a good way to stand out anyway."