Economic cataclysms and uncertainties have changed the face of professional and career delivery in such inconceivable and extreme ways; once upon a time we worked to earn a living but in this day, for most, it appears we simply live to work! It does not help that in climbing the career ladder of several organisations today, we are faced with the uncertainty of which way is actually up. But your job can be easier… it can be more enjoyable… you can be successful at it!!
Here are a few tips to ensure you do not become obsolete and are not the natural volunteer to help with your organisation’s cost-cutting-down-sizing strategy!
First, I’d look to Confucius’ famous quote; “If you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. True as it is, he obviously wasn’t a Nigerian and we all aren’t that lucky! But what can we take from his quote?
Tip #1: Love your Job: Why? Because you have to. It is really that simple and the only way to get through it. Give it a thought; the average white collar worker spends 9-11 hours of his or her waking day at the office, and if you live in Lagos Nigeria, perhaps another 4-5 hours getting ready for work and in commute. That is over 60% of each 24 hour day, the rest of which is for the better part spent sleeping. You cannot spend that much of your time apprehensive and unhappy about your work and expect to stay sane. You must find what it is you can love about your job and then build your focus around it. When deadlines sneak in, scopes creep, bosses nag and you feel underpaid, you can remind yourself it’s why you do what you do. Be passionate about it, know your merits, accept challenges, they are opportunities to shine.
This brings us to Tip #2: Know your Job! Shockingly many workers don’t know what their jobs really entail. They just do what they do on a daily basis and expect to swing a career. You cannot just swing it by keeping busy, if your task doesn’t add value however indirectly to the bottom line of your company, it is either redundant or it’s on the fast track there!… What do you do? Who defined its extent? Do you understand its definition? This is your job description! If you were a car, it would be the manual or brochure which defined what you were worth based on what you could do. That’s why your JD as we call it in HR jargon also sets the tone for performance expectations. If I hired you for what you said you could do, I’d also appraise you on your success or failure at same. But is that all? Many times it goes a bit beyond that! But primarily, if you are going to excel at a job, you need to at least know what your superiors are going to appraise you by, and that should be your emphasis in succeeding at it. Additionally, ask questions, pay attention, and always clarify expectations!
Tip #3: Stand Out: If you are going to be the star at your job, you’re going to need to do things somewhat differently. You are going to have to stand out for something. If you struggle to fit in with ordinary tasks, you cannot expect to be a champion. Champions are those who put in a little extra to the ordinary and push beyond their boundaries because they desire success and acclamation. This is not for everyone, how successful you want to be on the job determines the extent to which you keep anxiety at bay and beware of blunders. You have got to be known for something, the go-to-guy everyone reaches out to for a hand, insight and advice.
Tip #4: Be an Asset: Assets see the big picture and seek avenues to add value. They are the non-employee thinking employees. They take ownership of their tasks and are uber-reliable. Ever had that colleague who somehow seemed able to do anything and everything? That one person who seemed able to back up for anyone and just about everyone and not mess things up? In actual fact, you sometimes got back and found your tasks in better shape than you had left them. That’s the asset; the employee everyone usually thinks the organisation cannot do without, with up to date skills in a number of disciplines as a result of a commitment to achieving a personal best and one driven to extend limits of performance with no end to efforts due to a strive for excellence. The asset realizes that intentions are not measurable and effort is not performance so he/she is always seeking personal satisfaction and self-actualization through a broadening of skills, quest for excellence and a desire for balance.
Tip #5: Relax: This is of immense importance, and usually the assets’ greatest weakness. Even I hear the asset sounding like the guy without a life nor any desire for meaningful relationships, but this is not necessarily the case. An asset like anyone cannot really be successful if burn-out and emotional anxiety are a constant feeling, there’s thus a need to stop every now or then, take time off, where necessary reappraise your goals, re-strategise, balance your life and get back in.
Like with everything we do, to succeed, we must invest in it! Treat your career like your personal health, give it the care it deserves and you will succeed.