For a while now, I have been developing a workshop on the Business of Being You, where we look at your personal value chain and examine what you do to see where value can be tweaked, added, or in some cases taken away if the activity adds no value.
In the process, I have been doing a lot of research and came across this quote:
If what you are doing is not valued by someone, then how are you of value?
The harshness of it immediately caught my attention. And yet to a large extent I think it is true with a minor amendment! I would rephrase it to:
If what you are doing is not valued by someone, then how are you adding value?"
Does this still come across as being harsh? Perhaps!
But the point is, that there are so many people these days competing for so few opportunities, that each person needs to stand out from the crowd, and each person needs to add value. But what is value?
Well the saying goes "Value is in the eye of the beholder" doesn't it?
So for anyone that is looking to be employed, looking to be included on the team of an exciting stretch project, looking to make the next leap in their career, looking to sell their skills to someone, the "beholder" is your future employer, your current employer, the project manager in the next department, your colleagues, a connection on LinkedIn. In essence the beholder is anyone that might ever consider giving you work, working with you, employing you, being an ambassador for your brand.
If a business offered products and services that were not wanted by anyone, do you think they would remain in business? No. So why then is someone going to employ you, work with you, promote you, put you on their amazing project, mentor you, sponsor you, send business in your direction, go out of their way for you, if you are not offering them something that they value?
So if everyone values something different does that mean I need to be a chameleon, a people pleaser, be all things to all people? No it doesn't mean that at all.
You need to understand what is of value to the company/boss/colleague that you want to work for and with.
If your boss values facts and information to make a quick decision, she is not going to value you spending four hours telling her every tiny detail with the emotion and drama fit for a stage production. No, she is going to value a concise, factual presentation and some suggested solutions that will help her get to a decision quickly. What she values is her time, not the drama that may be interesting but not necessarily useful. So look for cues in how she communicates - that will generally tell you how she likes to be communicated with and what she values. And if all else fails, ask her!
You need to remain relevant
You need to remain relevant by investing in your own development, by staying current on your industry, being aware of trends and changes, being up to date with shifts in technology.
When I started my first student job 23 years ago - everything was done manually. I worked in a town planning office as a student here my responsibility was to work with the land use maps. If you are imagining maps stored on a computer in ARCGIS, nope, think again. These were A0 paper maps - there was only one master copy of each! When my boss wanted to update land use maps, he had me cut out intricate shapes of sticky coloured plastic and fix these to the map to indicate a changed land use. So what was of value 22 years ago was my ability to neatly cut out shapes and accurately place the sticky plastic on the map.
Would that be of value now? Not so much!! Thankfully my skills have since advanced in relevant ways - and I have probably lost my "sticky-plastic cutting" abilities as they are no longer useful.
Treat each of your colleagues like a client
It may be worth your while to look at your colleagues and see a client or customer instead of someone who is a team mate at best, and an annoyance at worst. Customers and clients are not necessarily only those people that work outside of your organisation - there is potential for a large proportion of your work to come from internal customers a.k.a your colleagues.
If you work in a project environment, your project manager is your client. If you are a consultant in a multidisciplinary firm, many of your colleagues are potential clients who may need your advice at some point in the future, and who may introduce you to their clients and help you build your network. Yet, so few of us treat our colleagues with the respect that we give to external customers. So few of us take the time to build relationships with colleagues until we need something from them - and often then it is too late.
What we should be aiming for with all our colleagues is to meet their basic human need to feel important and valued. When we understand what they value, we can position ourselves to deliver on that value, and in the process develop colleagues that will act as ambassadors for us now and later in our careers. Think about those colleagues that you would recommend every time you are asked - they behaved and worked in a way that you valued right?
So in the same way that a business does market research, it refines its products, it identifies who its customers are and finds out about their preferences, if you treat your career as your business, it seems to me that the same approach should apply.
Questions to ask yourself
How am I staying relevant in an ever changing market?
How am I differentiating myself from everyone else and am I doing it in a way that is responsive to (or better yet, getting ahead of) changing way that work is done?
How adaptable am I to market needs?
Who are my potential clients and customers?
Am I missing out on potential customers by only looking at clients that my company works with?
Am I communicating my value in a way that resonates with my clients and if not what changes do I need to make to my communication style?
I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.
I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself. I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.
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