Summer has officially started and your office most likely will serve as a revolving door of big-wigs coming and going, using up their what-seems-like-unlimited paid time off to do all of the fun stuff we can’t afford to do and wearing all of the cute stuff we can’t afford to because bills and Sallie Mae.

But when the boss is away, too often the rest of your teammates will decide to play. So just by maintaining normal levels of productivity, you’re sure to stand out by default. But we know normal isn’t where it’s at, so refer to this four-step guide to earn the kudos needed to expedite your ascension up the ranks.


Most of the time, you’ll know when your manager will be out of the office at least a week or two in advance — either formally (it’s on the calendar) or informally (during post-meeting chats, she’s gushing about how excited she is to finally be able to take her kids to Italy). So align your deadlines to complete your most important tasks by the time she leaves (details on why in the next step) and if you don’t already have a recurring one-on-one meetings with her, request a touch-base for the Thursday after she returns to the office. Why Thursday? Well, Monday and Tuesday will be jam-packed with meetings and catching up on emails; Wednesday is your dress rehearsal (see the last tip) and Friday is, well, Friday.


Since you’re ahead of the pack with your routine duties, here’s your chance to stand out. Review the last team meeting’s minutes and identify a key initiative your boss mentioned during her overview of the department’s quarterly goals. Then stop by her office and tailor your pitch after this example:

Hey Sharon, I’m ahead of schedule on the Wilson proposal, so I did some research on potential sponsors for the Q3 fundraiser we discussed during last week’s meeting. If it’s okay with you, I’d love to organize the contacts and unique selling points to increase our chances of securing these important partnerships. I know you’re headed out on vacation beginning Monday, so I’d be more than happy to schedule a brief 20-minute one-on-one late next week after you return to discuss my progress and hear your feedback.

If she says, yes, react as though you knew she would. If you hear a lukewarm “let me think about it” or flat-out no, it’s all good: Initiative goes a long way in the workplace and when the boss is on the hunt for a dependable staffer to tackle a special project, you’ll be at the top of her list.


For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume Sharon loved your pitch and gave you the green-light. And chances are some of your teammates will wonder what has you so preoccupied that you can’t rave about the storylines within the storylines of Orange is the New Black‘s latest season.

Your impulse will urge you to snark back with, “Oh, I’m too busy working on a special project for Sharon.” But resist the temptation. Simply reply, “I know Piper is entitled and narcissistic, but we all have a friend like her, and she means well, right?” then keep working. Your colleagues will respect that you’re grinding away on your porject, but still not above some harmless watercooler chit-chat about pop-culture happenings.

Plus, word has a weird way of finding its way back to the boss — and if she hears that you threw your special assignment in the face of your peers, that may be your last one, so tread carefully: In other words, just do the work without the theatrics.


The day before your presentation, reach out to a trusted colleague or mentor to discuss your presentation. Ask for feedback, make the necessary tweaks and don’t leave the office until everything for the meeting has been finalized. There’s nothing worse than scrambling around the office at the last minute for a project that you said you could handle.

Oh, and remember in your initial pitch when you told Sharon you’d follow up with a 20-minute touch-base? Well, you really only have 15 minutes because the last five should be reserved for questions and planning the next steps. Whatever your presentation method — PowerPoint, handout, dry-erase-board doodles or all of the above — be confident, organized and thorough. Put yourself in the boss’ six-inch heels and anticipate her questions and answer them before she has the chance to inquire.

Before you know it, your name will be brought up in behind-closed-doors meetings with other important peeps and you’ll be known as the Standout who goes above and beyond the call of duty and to that we say: Mission accomplished.

You get enough trash. Make room for some treasures

I send emails worth opening every time. Because Stylish Standouts don’t deserve stale newsletters.

My notes include tips and tricks to take your brand and business up a notch. Plus, they’re a peaceful escape from your frantic social media feed (and that looming deadline).