Thursday, May 1, 2008

How to Fortify Your Job: 10 valuable (and challenging) Tips

10 invaluable skills which are even more crucial today

With each month bringing more news on additional job cuts it seems more focus should be placed on fortifying our careers and jobs in this economic slowdown, recession or whatever you'd like to call it.

Fortifying our jobs, careers and place in an organization is necessary and just might make the difference between successfully navigating the current slowdown or struggling through it. Taking the right steps is a wise pre-emptive step which just might save us significant trouble and potential hardships in times to come.

I believe there are some invaluable skills and characteristics every employee should adopt which will make him virtually indispensible. These are true for prosperity as well but play a more crucial role in a recession.

I must say I doubt each person has the ability or capacity required to adopt all of these but we must to our best with what we've got. We all have at least one or two strengths where we can really stand out in.

#1 Solve problems - Be solution oriented

In my experience there's nothing as valuable as having an employee which is solution oriented. The majority of times we just don't have all the data, options, decisions and guiding available. Sometimes we just have a task to complete.

As a manager an employee which does his best with what he has and produces a solution, no matter how weak, is more valuable than an employee who just keeps returning with more and more questions. A solution can always be corrected and advice can always be handed out. An independent employee with the ability to figure out complicated tasks and missions and provide solutions is invaluable.

Adopting a solution oriented state of mind isn't easy. It's especially hard for perfectionists who'd like to see everything completed perfectly and by the book.

Adopting a solution oriented state of mind requires understanding that sometimes all we have to go on is what we have in hand and to make the best out of it.

It's important to understand it's easier for a manager to correct a path or a solution than to draw a new one from scratch. Most managers don't have the time required to do so and rely on their top employees to do that for them. These are the same employees which are considered valuable to the organization.

#2 Adopt an organizational point of view

Not everyone is cut out for working in the confines of an organization. However, if that's what you do, and you don't have anything else lined up adopting an organizational point of view is a very smart move.

Sometimes organizations as a whole, or managers as individuals, make decisions which seem odd at best and downright not rational. Protesting and making your voice heard is always good but it should be done within the organizational ball park and in accordance with the organization's accepted behavior and culture.

Identifying with decisions we don't agree with is regrettably (or not) a required character trait of managers and valued employees. The time or inclination to explain decisions is not always available. Keep in mind there's usually a good reason, in the organization or manager's eyes, to that decision.

Managers, as human beings, naturally value employees which see eye to eye with them and feel safe around them. Keep that in mind.

#3 Arrive early, leave late

An oldie but goldie. We'd like to think that if we get our job done it doesn't matter when we arrive and when we leave. Well, it does. We can't really control the basic cause and affect our minds draw automatically. If someone arrives earlier than us and leaves later he must be working harder and therefore must be more valued by management.

Managers will also be aware, whether in a conscious or unconscious manner, to the time you put in. The same goes for arriving late and leaving early. Even if you get your job done, and more, you will always have to apologize, even if it is done with humor, for your hours.

#4 Get involved

If you haven't shown interest, now it's time. Detached employees don't do themselves any good. In times of prosperity doing your job is enough. In a recession it isn't.

Getting involved is a very basic advice and is key to creating added value for you as an employee. A general good tip is to put yourself in your manager's seat. What would you like to see in your employees?

An involved employee is much more valuable as he has a better understanding of the goings-on in the organization, understands it better and represents it better.

#5 Strengthen and protect your niche

Have you carved yourself a niche in your organization? That's an excellent start. It's time to deepen it and protect it. A good niche expert is virtually irreplaceable in the short term. Developing your own niche is an entirely different story which would make a great post.

Don’t be afraid to let other people in you niche as any refusal to do so will not be welcomed. Instead, share some of the less relevant experience and create synergies with new and potential partners.

Another good idea is to constantly keep in the mind of the organization your valuable experience and expertise.

#6 Be a team player

Unless you're a genius or a great salesman this is definitely not the time to be a lone wolf. Team players empower an organization through synergy and mutual enrichment. If you're colleagues favor you chances are your manager have noticed it as well.

Lone wolves naturally threaten the rest of the pack and draw attention and fire. As I've written, unless you can compensate for it in some other fashion it is recommended to join the pack (and maybe lead it).

#7 Stand out

Marketing has a lot to do with success. Standing out has everything to do with marketing. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. We don't need to test this saying but it does hold a certain truth. Be noticed and heard. Bring a new voice to staff meetings, new ideas and new initiatives.

Remind yourself and others of your recent success and of your current undertakings. Don't brag as it doesn't do any good instead just point out the facts in relevance of your current undertakings.

#8 Generate Business

This one's intuitive and goes without saying: increase your productivity. Manufacture more, write more and sell more. Meet and surpass your goals.

Naturally this should be done gradually and at level you can keep for a while but with some effort anyone should be able to work harder.

#9 Show increased initiative

Highly appraised by managers, employee initiative is a sort of an added bonus for an organization. Employees usually get paid to do their jobs be good at it. If an employee successfully initiates more business, research or anything of value to the organization his own value increases significantly.

#10 Have a plan B

Starting your search for alternatives in a recession is not wise. Keeping your options open at all times means higher bargaining power, more self confidence and will keep you cool and relaxed.

Keep in touch with friends, colleagues and business partners. They may be very important if all else fails.

Have your alternatives planned and mapped out at all times.

Image by: Texas lan

1 comment:

Jesse said...

I think your post about fortifying your job is very good and very sensible information. I would agree with everything you said. Often times people take for granted that everyone understands these types of things but in realizty alot of people don't.

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