How to Become the Person Who ‘Does Things Right’ At Work

How you can become the ‘go-to’ person at your workplace and scale the corporate ladder fast.

The Hindu mythology shares a fabulous tale, one which is applicable even after 4,000 years.

Here’s how it goes.

One day, Narada muni went to Lord Vishnu and asked, “Why is Garuda’s statue outside all your temples? Why not mine? Am I not your biggest devotee?”

Before Vishnu could answer, they heard a loud crash outside. “I’ve sent Garuda on an errand,” Vishnu said. “Can you check what happened?”

Eager to prove himself, Narada hurried out. He returned and said, “A milkmaid tripped and fell.”

“What was her name?” Vishnu asked.

Narada hurried out, returned and said, “Sharda.”

“Why did she fall?” Vishnu asked.

Narada felt a wee-bit irritated. But he went out again. When he returned, he said, “a snake crossed her path.”

“Did she break any pots of milk?” Vishnu asked.

“I don’t know,” Narada snapped.

“Find out Narada,” Vishnu said patiently. “I might want to buy some milk from her.”

Narada dragged his feet out. He returned and said, “She broke one pot. But she’s willing to sell milk from the other pot.”

“So how much should I pay her?” Vishnu asked.

“Oh, I forgot to ask,” Narada said and started rushing out.

Right then, Garuda flew in, unaware of what happened. Vishnu stopped Narada and said to Garuda, “I heard a crash outside. Could you check what happened?” He then whispered to Narada, “Let’s see how Garuda fares.”

Garuda returned after some time and said, “It was a milkmaid named Sharda. She was on her way to the market but tripped because she was startled by a serpent. She broke one of her two pots and is worried about how she will pay for the broken pot and spilt milk. I suggested she sell the milk to you.”

“And the price of the milk?” Vishnu asked. “Four copper coins,” Garuda answered promptly. “One actually, but I think she wants to make a handsome profit because she is dealing with God.”

Vishnu laughed and caught Narada’s eye, who understood why Garuda’s statue, and not his, is always placed in front of the image of Lord Vishnu in His temples.

Sometimes, you might feel like a victim of office politics when you get passed on for a promotion. And you would be right. But often, people who climb the corporate ladder fast possess this Garuda-like trait.

How can you develop this trait? How can you be the go-to person not just for your manager, but for anyone you professionally interact with? Simple: Apply the concept of prototyping.

What is Prototyping?

This term was originally coined by Scot Herrick.

Most employees assume that they know what their boss wants. When they get a task or project, they work on it for weeks to the best of their abilities and turn it in. And that’s when the sh*t hits the fan.

Instead of appreciating the work, managers freak out when they realize it’s not how they wanted it to be. “Can you do nothing right?” they fume. Deadlines loom, stress levels rise, pressures increase, volcanoes threaten to erupt inside tiny silos.

If you want to work smart, you can avoid this blunder.

Complete a portion of the work — a mockup of a presentation or website, an outline for data analysis, or the structure for the project — and share it with your manager. Take her feedback. Does she agree with your prototype? Is the format okay? What inputs does she have? Once she offers her inputs, set a realistic deadline with a 20 percent buffer and get to work.

While prototyping, keep your manager updated with progress and break bad news, if any, early. Don’t just deliver bad news, offer a couple of alternative suggestions.

The Benefits of Prototyping

Here’s how prototyping will make you valuable:

  1. It’ll make you appear proactive instead of someone who cannot do things right.
  2. You’ll deliver quality work with minimum rework within the deadline.

Once you make this a trend, your manager will turn you every time the stakes get high. You won’t just become an important asset to the team, you’ll become indispensable.

Go on. Become a badass who knows how to get the job done well. Then, you’ll climb up the corporate rungs without even asking for promotions, not just because of your skills, but because the right people will trust you to use them wisely.