3 Secrets to Getting What You Want at Work

What do you want at work?

Who doesn’t want to be rewarded at work? We all want to use our skills and talents and be paid for it. What kind of “payment” we like depends on what we value. We need money to live on, and some people want put their hands on as much of it as possible. That’s what they value.

Once the bills are paid, other people care more about intangible things. What do you want more of? Time off? Freedom from micromanagement? How about picking new equipment for your department? Be clear about what you value, so you know what to aim for.


Getting more of what you want is easier when your boss thinks highly of you. Employers are like other people. They worry about money,  how to make payroll in these days of economic anemia and increased competition. After that, what they value depends on their needs and personality.

How do you get what you want?

The first secret to becoming appreciated and rewarded at work is to figure out what management values. If you are lucky, the practice owner will tell you what’s important.Think about what questions they ask at job interviews. Pay attention at staff meetings and read the employee handbook. Well-run practices get everyone headed in the same direction by communicating their goals and values clearly.

In addition to what your organization says, gather your own information. If you aren’t used to thinking this way, other people’s desires seem mysterious. Actually you can tell a lot by observation.

Your boss may be highly organized but not good with people. She may have ideas to improve the practice but not enough hours to develop them all. Study the leaders. What do they talk about? Who gets the biggest bonus or the most interesting assignments? See not only what is rewarded but what might be rewarded if someone like you could do it.

Once you have a few ideas about what the leaders, especially your immediate boss, value, the second secret is to assess what you are good at. This is easier than it seems. When we have a gift or skill that is a part of us, we often can’t see it. We tend to remember what we work hard to learn and overlook what comes as second nature. Ask your friends how they see you. Think about what coworkers ask you to do. Their view of your strengths may surprise you, but in their feedback are the answers to the question, “What are you good at?”

The third secret to getting what you want at work is, notice what’s not being done and fill in the gap. Remember the boss who has great ideas but not enough time? Offer to take on a project that you’d be good at, especially if it will help the practice’s bottom line. For example, if you always have the latest gadget, volunteer to research cell phones for the office. When you present your research, show how following your recommendation will make work easier and more efficient, as well as save money over time. You may want to start small with a tip on how to use current equipment in a new way. If you can quote something your boss said or a line from the last office memo, so much the better. It shows you heard what was needed and stepped up. If you give your boss what she wants and needs, she’s likely to do the same for you. Time off, here you come!

Question: When were you successful at getting more of what you want at work? Tell us how you did it.