Career Resilience 4: Be Part of the Bottom Line
Employers measure us by the value that we add to the company. After all, commercial organisations are there to make money and Government organisations want to deliver services in the most economic (low cost) way possible. So, we are there to contribute to their bottom line. Our Career Resilience, beyond mere survival, will depend on how well we contribute to our organization’s sense of value. Here are six tips to help maximize economic value
- Wise up: what is value? First, let’s be clear what ‘value’ means to our organisation. We should do the research and understand what they mean by ‘economic value’. It could be throughput in a process, or revenue from sales, or even cost reduction. Whatever it is, get to know it and begin to live it. We need to ask “How does my personal activity contribute to the organisation’s bottom line? Revenue up; costs down?” Then, we need to make sure our activity is aligned to the organisation’s principle goals. Finally, we need to demonstrate our clear economic value in terms of the organisations principal goals. This way we’ll be seen as indispensable to that success. The clearer the link, the more resilient our careers will be when things get tough. Career resilience is a matter of value in other people’s eyes, so we need to measure up.
- Firm First: be a ‘Company Man’. We have chosen to invest large parts of our time and energies in work. We have struck a deal that is based around an exchange of value: creativity and labour for cash and benefits. For that time, our long term goals become unimportant. Right now, we need to apply ourselves to our immediate commitments and know that our future career resilience will take care of itself. In short, we need to survive the short-term before we can reach the long-term. Of course, we can’t lose sight of our bigger goals, but they will only be achieved one step at a time. The only step we can take is the one in front of us right now. So, we need to step up to the organisation’s needs and subsume our own, for now. Our dream career will happen as a by-product of us helping the organisation achieve its dream goals. This kind of shift in commitment will show up in our communications, our interactions, and our approach to work. Do this for one day, our management will take notice; do it for two weeks we’ll become an invaluable asset. Career resilience happens in every moment, not at year’s end when we have our annual review.
- Time is Money: it’s the scarcest commodity we have. If we want to maximize our value to the organisation, we need to make sure that we are spending our time wisely. That means two things: firstly, focus on what’s important (to the organisation) and, secondly, work effectively. Notice I’m saying effectively, not efficiently. Career resilience and Added Value is about delivering outcomes: effectiveness focusses on the outcome while efficiency focusses on the process. If the process is heading off in the wrong direction or is convoluted and awkward, doing it faster is of less value than making it better. So, if we focus on results, we’ll embed ourselves tighter into the organisation’s fabric. Our career resilience will increase even further.
- Constantly add value: increase the pace. There’s an old adage, “You’re only as good as your last performance” and it’s never been truer than in the modern workplace. Yesterday’s income has been counted and taken to the bank already. So what are we going to do now to add value? Of course, doing more of the same is essential… keep delivering the expected value. But those are basic table stakes and the bidding is going up, not down. Organisations are constantly looking for increased value; delivering more today than we did yesterday. Part of our value will be in how we can deliver growth more than ‘business as usual’. So we should always be looking for ways to add to extra value, not merely contribute to today’s success. Our career resilience and growth will be aligned to the organisation’s growth.
- Strategic Change: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. We understand that improvements and adding to value will help our career resilience. But change is scary; it’s disruptive of smooth operations and can undermine the power bases of those we’re trying to support. So we need to be circumspect in what we seek to ‘improve’. Peripheral process that cost money and effort, but that deliver very little value, are easy targets. Nobody ‘important’ will worry about eliminating those marginal tasks and cost reductions will be welcomed. Core processes, on the other hand, are fraught with dangers. They are highly visible, they have major contributions to the bottom line and they are probably ‘owned’ by someone very important. So we need to tread carefully when seeking change here. Win support and sponsorship before attempting change here. However, if we can pull it off, the changes can deliver significant added value and our prestige should climb accordingly. Strategic change is risky but, when chosen wisely, can pay dividends to the bottom line and to our career resilience.
- Future net worth: be a keeper. Job security is largely about the here and now. Career resilience, however, is all about the future. Are we the kind of people our organisations want to have around in the future? If we are, we’ll be seen as assets and be invested in: if not, we’ll be treated as resources and consumed in the operational processes. Once spent, resources are replaced as commodities. Our longevity is based on what we can deliver in the future, not what we do today. We need clear communication, direct positioning and clear speaking with a vision. Our understanding the future plans of the organisation will allow us to demonstrate, today, that we should be part of the future. We should always be reassuring about our contribution to that future vision. Our career resilience depends upon being viewed as an asset, not a commodity. That’s the difference in being a Human Capital rather than a Human Resource.
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