3 Ways to Look Engaged... When You Have to Watch the Clock

Some people are black and white when it comes to judging whether someone is engaged in what they do for a living. Like most of you, I like to see someone passionate about what they do, and I think I know the signs of a clock watcher.

Any company is going to be comprised of team members in various stages of life and work/life circumstances. It’s easy to look engaged when you can spend 60-80 hours a week on the job and simply outwork people. Of course, many folks can’t simply choose to outwork their co-workers for whatever it is they value on the job, whether it’s the next promotion, more money or the public professions of “why can’t you be more like Bobby?” from their boss.

So, what’s a working mom or dad to do? If you’ve got to pick up the kids at 5:15pm every day but want to be viewed as a hard-working player with the tag of “most engaged,” here are 3 simple suggestions:

1. Have a big win in the hopper at all times (1 is plenty) and deliver on it. The day job is what you get paid to do. Everyone expects that. Stars get the day job stuff done but are always working on “game changers” – things that, if executed, can make a real difference to the business. They get the stuff you expect done, but always have a game changer in the hopper. You leave at 5pm every day, that’s fine. Where’s your game changer coming from? How are you going to find time to work on it?

2. Tether thyself and use thy tether. You’ve got a blackberry or an iPhone that’s connected to email. Use it. You don’t have to wear it out, but if you refuse to use it after hours out of principle, you’re creating your own prison (shout out to Creed). Don’t want to use the tether? That’s OK, but you allow others to define you on their terms.

3. Keep the balls in the air when you aren’t there. So you have to leave at 5pm every day, but you keep email flowing after hours with your blackberry/iPhone. Good job, but it’s not enough. If you want to be viewed as engaged, you’ve got to counter the suck ups who can stay until 8pm. To do that, not only do you need to use your tether after hours, but you need to keep the flow going when you’re on vacation.

There it is. It doesn’t mean you aren’t world class just because you leave at 5pm. But if the world defines you as non-engaged because of that, you’ve got to do things differently to make sure you don’t get stereotyped.