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A Google strategy manager says these are the 5 things you should do to stand out in the workplace

Ana Altchek   

A Google strategy manager says these are the 5 things you should do to stand out in the workplace
  • A Google strategy manager says the best contributors at work are those who are team players.
  • Herng Lee said people gravitate toward those who go out of their way to help others.

Herng Lee has seen a lot of top performers in his nearly nine years working on Google's strategy team.

But the employees who really stand out are those who are team players, the Google manager said in his weekly newsletter for high-performing tech professionals. Lee said mastering that part of the job is the hard part.

Lee said in his post that these kinds of workers "create a wide halo around them," and he considers them the "the gold standard." Not only are they good at their job, but they actively make others better.

The Googler told BI that by lifting your coworkers, you create a stronger team that can solve more complex problems. It also strengthens your own position because when people see the kind of value you create in the workplace, they'll gravitate toward you, Lee added.

So what does being a team player entail? Lee said these are the five things you can do consistently to be more like one.

Don't gatekeep knowledge

Lee said you should make sure knowledge doesn't live and die with you, and you don't have to do it in a loud way. Rather, it should be a reflex.

Lee said he once had a colleague who was great at his job, but he was the only one with access to his reasoning and sources. As a result, no one felt comfortable applying his work to other places, he said.

"So while his work was great, it did not qualify as institutional knowledge," Lee said in the post. "No one could really update, replicate, or polish his analysis."

Lee said good work involves documenting your framework, sharing with others how you achieved results, and creating replicable playbooks so others can build on your work.

Focus on "why," and not just "what"

Lee said some of his best mentors at Google didn't officially coach him, but offered the same value by consistently sharing the "why."

They did so by providing context, thinking out loud, and setting guiding principles while allowing space for him to figure out his own approach.

Doing all these things may take time and effort, and could mean sacrificing a bit of efficiency in the moment. But in the end, Lee said it helps others and gives you more value as a team member.

Don't play nice

Lee said many of us have been conditioned to play nice at work, and that can result in people holding back insight or providing overly harsh criticism.

Instead, you should treat feedback as a way to help others, Lee said.

To do so, you should provide constructive feedback early and act as a sounding board for others. Lee said you should voice unpopular opinions and respectfully challenge leaders when you feel passionately about a topic.

Lee said early in his career, he preferred getting feedback from nice people because of the "psychological safety and confidence boost" it gave him. Now, he turns to people who offer genuine feedback. He said it's sometimes uncomfortable — but much more useful.

Connect the dots for others

Lee said you should offer insight to coworkers even when they don't know they're looking for it. That means actively thinking about what other teams are working on, instead of solely focusing on your own tasks, Lee said.

For example, if someone's working on a project that you're not a part of, you should offer up useful information and resources or connect them with people who might know more about the topic they're working on.

Save others time

Everyone is busy, so people consider themselves lucky when someone sacrifices their own efficiency to save time for others, Lee said.

These can be little things that are part of your daily routine, Lee said, like writing clear emails so people don't spend time trying to figure out what you meant or keeping track of your meetings effectively.

You should try to save others time even in cases when you don't receive credit for it, Lee said.

Check out Lee's full post here.

Are you a Googler with advice to others? We want to hear from you. Email the reporter from a non-work email at

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