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Greenville Business Magazine

Unleash your superpowers at work

Nov 12, 2018 10:43AM ● By Kathleen Maris

By Dan Kessler, Energage

If you start wearing a cape at the office, you’ll probably draw a few stares. Fortunately, you can find other ways to show off your superpowers at work.

If I were able to give someone just one piece of professional advice, it would be to figure out what your superpowers are. What separates you from the pack? What do you excel at that others struggle with? What special skill have you spent extra time developing? What can you offer that others can’t?

One of my favorite interview questions is to ask people what their superpowers are. Understand what those are. Take off your humility hat for a minute and try to get into a more boastful mindset. Ask your friends, your colleagues, your managers. You might be surprised what comes back.

Once you identify your superpowers, it's about finding roles, companies, and opportunities where you can use them. You're never going to be in a job where you can use those superpowers 100 percent of the time. (If you can, more power to you!) But be sure to put yourself in a situation where you can put them to work.

From there, make sure you are using those superpowers to align with your manager and your team on expectations. It’s surprising how rarely that actually happens.

You can only exceed expectations if you know what the expectations are. You can't assume that your manager is going to set those for you. Be proactive talking about them. Check in on them. Clarify them.

To me, identifying the expectations is the potential weakness threatening every superhero. Once you've actually done that, from there, it's about communicating regularly, and doing what you say you're going to do. When you can't do something, or you're blocked, or you're stuck, communicate that and work through it. It gets pretty easy to exceed expectations from there.

In comic books, every superhero has an arch enemy. But in the work world, that conflict is almost always unnecessary. Some people complain their enemy is a “bad boss.” But is that really the case, or is it an illusion? Most people, including bosses, are trying to do the best they can given the situation they are in.

While there might be some bad actors in your company -- one of those might even be your manager -- he or she probably is working through challenges, too.

If you perceive your boss is "bad," reflect on why you feel that way and what role, honestly, you can play in making the best of a difficult relationship. If you’re doing things right and managing that, most likely someone will notice.

After all, everyone loves a superhero.

Dan Kessler is president of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed nearly 3 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2018. Energage is the research partner for Top Workplaces. Nominate your company as a Top Workplace at

About The Top Workplaces Program:

The Top Workplaces program identifies organizations that excel at organizational health and employee engagement. Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business Magazine, in partnership with Energage, formerly WorkplaceDynamics, offers a free assessment through a simple, scientifically sound, and anonymous employee feedback survey.

The Top Workplaces program recruits organizations, walks them through the survey, and creates the list of top-ranking companies. Why participate? Consider the benefits:

Shout out, stand out: Encourage workplace pride. If you work at a great company, give colleagues a morale boost with something to celebrate. And give your employer well-served credit for creating something special.

Assess, reward, and improve: The results from the Top Workplaces survey can help assess the health of companies. They validate achievements, reveal problem areas, and set a foundation for new goals.

Boost recruiting: Attract and retain the best talent. Employees want to work at companies recognized as leaders that operate by a strong set of values.

Raise the business profile: The Top Workplaces logo on company materials and websites helps spread the word about successful work environments. Customers and business partners will take notice. That awareness can help create new business opportunities, too.

Earn public recognition: Achievements are recognized by Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business Magazine.

“Top Workplaces is more than just recognition,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage. “Our research shows organizations that earn the award attract better talent, experience lower turnover, and are better equipped to deliver bottom-line results. Their leaders prioritize and carefully craft a healthy workplace culture that supports employee engagement.”

To participate, go to or call (864) 501-9699.

Energage, founded in 2006, is located in Exton, Pennsylvania. A leader in organizational health research and SaaS-based HR tools, Energage has reached more than 17 million employees from 50,000+ organizations through its employee engagement platform, Top Workplaces program, and workplace improvement solutions.

Contact: Bob Helbig, Media Partnerships Director Energage 414.207.1648