5 Ways to Leave a Legacy at Work

Legacy at work

How to leave a legacy at work

I’ve worked with many people throughout my career. There are some that I hardly remember. They did their jobs. They moved on. And that was it.

There are other people who I remember many years after we parted ways. They are the people who left a legacy. People remember working with them because of their unselfish approach. Co-workers remember them for how they helped them, either on a personal or professional level.

People who leave a legacy do many things for other people. Here are five of the most common ones that I’ve noticed.

Praise people

People like to be appreciated. When someone goes over and above the call of duty, let them know you appreciate it. Most people suggest to do it publicly. That’s a good idea in many situations. When you’re in front of the team, announce to the whole team how that individual did a great job.

Sometimes, it’s nice to pull them aside and tell them they did a great job privately. Maybe they’ve been improving on a skill that you asked them to work on. Or maybe you noticed that they’re still pulling their weight, even though they happen to be going through a difficult time. Having a one-on-one session just to tell them how much you appreciate the job they’ve been doing lately can do wonders to improve someone’s morale, as well as their long-term opinion of you.

Related post: 10 Ways to Mentor

Say thank you

When someone does something for you, tell them thanks. Better yet, send them a note thanking them and telling you what it meant to you. A handwritten note is best, but even an email will show them your gratitude.

Most people feel good doing things for other people. But the good feeling is improved exponentially when gratitude is shown for that good deed. Letting them know they made an impact on you will make them remember how you made them feel for a long time.

Give helpful advice

When you see someone struggling with a decision or about to go down an ill-advised path, sometimes you can help them out with some advice. It all depends on how you approach it. You don’t want to inundate them. If you tell them that they’re doing the wrong thing and tell them what to do, it may not be accepted well.

Saying something like, “Can I offer some advice?” gives them an option. Try to read their receptiveness. If they say, “Yes, please.” They probably are receptive to your advice. If they pause and say something like, “Uhh…sure.” They might just be trying to be polite. Offer your advice for what it’s worth. Don’t offer again unless they ask. They may have just been too proud to want advice at the time. They may realize later that you were right. If so, they may come back for more. Otherwise, leave them alone.

Whether your advice is credible or not, you have to be credible in the other person’s eyes before they will be open to your advice.

Don’t keep score

After you have helped someone, don’t call in the favor.  It’s okay to ask the same person for help if you’ve helped someone in the past, but it should not be an expectation of tit for tat.

Helping someone should not be a transaction. Helping someone should be just that: help. Expecting payback makes it less meaningful and less memorable.

For more information, check out Career Management for Mentors

Advocate for others

Let the boss know how helpful or skillful someone has been. When their name comes up, mention “He did a great job for me.” or, “She really stepped up when we needed her.”
If you feel someone is not recognized for their efforts or accomplishments, make a special point of letting that person’s manager know. Some managers aren’t exposed to everything their people do. Some managers don’t pay close enough attention.

If you advocate for them, you help their success. Chances are the manager will appreciate and remember you for your kindness. They may even tell that person what an advocate you were for them.

I once received an award from my company. Soon after I was informed, my manager told me, “That’s because I went to bat for you. I told him you deserved it.”

I was happy that he advocated for me. But by telling me – actually bragging to me – about it, he kind of cheapened the effort. When you advocate for someone, leave it at that. Don’t try to claim credit for it. They will more than likely figure out that you helped out. It should be about that person, not you.

Related post: Why Your Legacy Matters


Sometimes, the difference between just having a job and having a career is the legacy you leave behind. There is nothing wrong with doing your job and keeping to yourself. But if you want to leave a legacy, take the extra time to help others out. You will be remembered long after you leave the organization.

What are you doing to leave a legacy at your organization?

If you would like to learn more about mentoring between Millennials and Baby Boomers, get Lew and Jeff’s book The Reluctant Mentor on Amazon.

I welcome your questions and comments.

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