Every morning, when I get up to go to work, the first question I ask myself is: “How can I create value today?”. Truth be told, the answer doesn’t always come easy. However, I try to ask myself this question regularly so as not to lose sight of my objectives.
Working is not just about making yourself available during business hours. You get paid for the value you bring to a company, not the time. Value makes the difference. How to create value in your job?
Going in search of value is a bit like a treasure hunt. Take your map and discover 3 steps to create (actual) value in your job!
Step #1 Clarify what your actual missions are
When you are hired for a position, you are given a more or less exhaustive list of missions. Before you want to exceed expectations, make sure you meet your minimum objectives.
As an employee, you must master the tasks entrusted to you. These missions are your roadmap. Integrate them well and understand the context in which they are given.
Control your territory:
- What is your role? Why are you chosen for this job?
- Are you the only one in charge of these missions or are there other people in charge of them too? What is your scope of action?
- Do you have to collaborate with others to accomplish my missions? If so, who?
- Are you totally autonomous or do your decisions depend on a third party?
- To whom are you accountable? Who assigned you these missions and why?
- How do these missions fit into the company’s strategy?
These missions are a starting point in your journey and if they seem broad and vague to you, don’t panic. It means that you will have the opportunity to go beyond what is expected of you in the first place.
Missions are not set in stone. It is up to you to make them evolve toward what you consider most relevant for the company and for your career. If you are not sure which way to go, talk to your manager.
Step #2 Meet the expectations of your job
Once you have clarified the missions that have been assigned, you must carry them out in the best possible way.
Align with customer needs. At the end of the day, customers satisfaction is a primary concern. Will you contribute to make the customer more satisfied? Provide better customer service or offer better quality. Always keep an eye on competitors and ask yourself how to challenge them or stay one step ahead.
Improving what you produce also means optimizing the way you produce. Also, improve the way you work every day, step by step.
Maintain a positive attitude. Leave your personal problems aside (unless something is really wrong and in that case, you need to take a break and step back). Always be the positive person, ready to motivate the troops.
Keep your feet on the ground. Be the person who understands where you are, where you want to go and how to get there. Know the right people and activate them at the right time.
Find the shortest path to get to the treasure. Make sure you simplify processes as much as possible to be more efficient.
Gain trust. No one is going to take the risk of giving you big responsibilities right from the start. It is up to you to prove that you are a competent and trustworthy person by carrying out increasingly complex projects.
Learn new skills and learn from mistakes. Keep developing yourself. Your three masters degrees will not be enough for your entire career. You’re never done learning and that’s a good thing. Similarly, a company must constantly learn and adapt to its environment. There is no failure, there are only lessons and you must use them to keeping doing better.
Once you think you know what your missions are and how they can serve the company’s interests, try to go a little further if you want to stand out and really bring value to your job.
Step #3 Execute a plan to exceed expectations
Think like an entrepreneur. Your job is not just to react on small day-to-day problems. Connect micro-tasks to a higher purpose. Have a vision, see the big picture. What is the “Why” of your job? What are your short term goals and your long term goals?
Stop wasting time, prioritize. Ask yourself: what is keeping me busy? If the answer is not aligned with your vision, it means that your priorities should be reviewed.
Ask yourself: what is keeping me busy?
Dig deeper and think about the work that really matters to your managers and to the company.
If what you are concerned about is not a concern for your hierarchy, it means either:
- that it’s not a major problem, and in that case you should leave it out;
- that it is a problem that has not been identified and it needs to be discussed.
Think in terms of “momentum” rather than “goals”. Re-evaluate the way you measure success: understand and measure momentum. To go further on the topic, I invite you to discover an excerpt from a lecture by Simon Sinek about creating value based on momentum.
Master the art of asking questions. Get your inspiration from Socrates teachings. Asking better questions is getting better answers: what are the goals, the audience, the stakeholders, the roles, the capabilities?
Albert Einstein himself was convinced that the solution to a problem lies in the formulation of the question and not in the formulation of the answer.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
— Albert Einstein
Challenge yourself to be better. Be excellent in what you’re doing. No one wants to be average and no one wants to buy average things.
Take on new responsibilities. Foresee problems before they happen and address potential issues.
Make a difference. Don’t follow the crowd, be the influencer in the group. Think outside of the box and be a visionary: constantly come up with new ideas, exceed expectations and become an above average person.
Be the connector. Connect people to each other, collaborate across departments. You’re not alone in the company. Build a cohesive team that can generate ideas together.
Add value to others. Creating value is not about being number one or making money. Creating value is about helping people. Ask yourself: “How can I be more successful in my job by adding value to other people and to the world?”.
Creating value is about helping people.
Make the invisible visible. There are two types of work: visible work and invisible work. Visible work is the work that everyone is able to see and evaluate. On the other hand, invisible work is the tasks that no one sees.
If you want to give weight to the value you create, the invisible work you do must be evaluated and measured at some point. It must therefore be made visible in one way or another.
Don’t keep things for yourself. Inspire others. Communicate about valuable things you, your team and your company do. Use simple words and visuals to make it as clear as possible.
To create value in your job, capitalize on your own value
After having read the map and clarified what your actual missions are, after having ventured beyond the missions entrusted to you and executed the plan, you finally reach the treasure.
And what you find out is that creating value is not just about the revenue you have been able to generate. Creating value for your job is increasing your own value first. So capitalize on your own value: work hard on yourself to make yourself more valuable. Develop skills and focus on your personal development and on your personality.
Working on yourself will allow you to bring value to your work as an individual, by extension bring real value to the company and, eventually, to what it offers to its customers.