Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: The surprising strategy guaranteed to help you get ahead

Odds are you know what separates a good employee from an average one — things like hard work, a professional attitude and the ability to work well with others.

But if you want to stand out, you need a trait that's more difficult to cultivate, according to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.

"You need to be trusted," she says, "by your managers and by your coworkers."

The easiest way to earn trust is simply by being true to your word.

"Say what you mean," Welch says, "and do what you say."

But there's another meaningful way to build trust that you may be missing.

Suzy Welch
Cameron Costa | CNBC
Suzy Welch

Welch calls the strategy "silo jumping," or taking a bird's eye view of your company and learning a bit about what your colleagues are doing.

"It's taking the time and making the effort to gain knowledge of the work being done by the people not in your silo, or group, or division," she says, "but all around you — up, down and sideways."

Taking the time to get to know how different teams work can go a long way. It shows your colleagues that you find their contributions interesting and valuable.

"Look up from your work," she says, "and prove you respect your coworkers enough to 'get' their work on some fundamental level."

The strategy can help entry-level employees and executives alike.

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Welch cites the example of a senior communications manager at a leading pharma company who was great at the core part of her job — talking to the company's shareholders and the press — but had one major challenge.

"She discovered that in senior management meetings, she only understood about 50 percent of what the finance people were saying," Welch says.

To get outside of her silo, the manager decided to learn more about the financial workings of the company. She sought out one of its smartest financial employees and asked him to explain a profit and loss statement.

"She got him to walk her through it," Welch says, "line by line."

Almost immediately, the finance team began to respect her more.

"They started taking her calls and looping her in more often and earlier," Welch says. "She'd proven she valued their work. She cared."

"Prove you respect your coworkers enough to 'get' their work on some fundamental level." -Suzy Welch, bestselling management author and CNBC contributor

Getting out of your comfort zone to learn more about your colleagues' work can be as simple as taking a class or reading a book on a new topic.

For example, if you work with coders, Welch recommends taking an introductory coding class online.

"It's a simple, not to mention fascinating, way to build trust," she says.

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker.

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