As I sat on a plane this morning and read over a hundred emails I have received in the last few days, I noticed there are a lot of ‘how should I…’ and ‘what should I’ type of questions coming from you all. I have now distilled a lot of the answers I could give in to 5 things you need to be doing today which can transform your performance ‘on the job’, so take notice and if you want to go further then sign up for my free 3 day course but in the meantime you need to get these going:
1. Start a ‘Business’
Create the ’ You’ business. Your business is your baby, you look after it, you are responsible for it, you decide it’s outcomes, not others like line managers and their appraisals, not the economy.
This business of yours has traditionally been operations (i.e. do work at your desk) only but now you need a sales and marketing division. I.e. you are going to learn to sell yourself and selling yourself is not limited to finding new jobs, you’re always persuading others…
2. Learn to be more persuasive
Now I don’t mean learn the dark art of hypnosis and I don’t mean to imply you should read a book on ‘picking up chicks’ or ‘how to bag a husband’. In the professional world what works is not fancy shiny talk as you dazzle with your whitest smile. What you need is SUBSTANCE. The best way of doing this is of course doing your work but don’t be someone who just does what is expected of them, the real substance comes when you dig deeper in your work and find and effectively deal with problems that no one else can or will. And you do this by
Once you do this extra value add work and make sure the right people (I.e. senior leadership) knows what you have been up to, then you will become persuasive through a reputation for being a person of substance. Your opinions will hold greater weight and your personal motivations will get greater support. So forget about all the pop psychology and neuro linguistic programming you’ve read about. Nothing will ever replace substance as the ultimate in being persuasive. Make sure you do both parts.
3. Adopt a Growth mind set
As per step 1 you now operate a company and that company needs to improve in order to remain competitive and increase its profits. Growth is a process centred around continual improvement. Since I deal almost exclusively with professionals i.e. people who sit in offices and usually work in Banking, Finance, Energy, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Government etc. the growth aspects are very similar, mostly quite timeless and broad
By broad I mean that most professionals are for the most part problem solvers, having understanding and experience of your particular company/department/business/function etc is the first battle; beyond that everyone is some hybrid of analyst/project manager/subject matter expert. Part of growth is to begin to specialise during our career, so we converge to one or two areas of expertise built on a foundation of broad abilities.
Some key things that should be in every professional’s foundation are
4. Improve your Communication
Technically, communication could have been lumped with the list above of foundational attributes/skills you need to cultivate and it is, but such is its significance I saved it for its own section.
Everything you do is underpinned by communication. Get this wrong and you undo great work, get it right and it will accelerate your growth more than any one thing in the list above, let’s delve
5. Be a Minimal Imposer
You should make things very easy for people to complete; this is a big secret to getting things done. In order to get things done we need to get people to do what we want, but it’s another thing on their plate so you need to make your requests as dumbed down as possible so their input is minimal, ideally just essential stuff. This is a big but often undiscussed method to getting the most from people; it goes a long way in effectiveness and productivity. It should always be a part of your checklist for interacting with others.
Equally, if you are offering your assistance i.e. to a senior leader then the worst way to offer is ‘let me know if there is something I can do’, it will often be met with, ‘I think we’re good, thanks’ or ‘sure, I’ll let you know’ both of which never materialise and you remain as unmemorable as you previously were.
Don’t just offer your help, frame it in some context and position yourself. i.e. ‘John, I’ve heard you are looking to get project X unstuck, well I know that the Developers are struggling to interpret requirements into specs, since I’ve done a lot of business analysis and am familiar with the data, I’m going go ahead and sit with the gang all week until we’ve got things flowing. I’ll report back next Tuesday unless we need your input.’ Now, that’s more way more meaningful than ‘Let me know if I can be of any help’, it shows that you have understood the problem, have familiarity with the data, you’ve positioned yourself as an expert (Business Analyst) and are offering to provide update.
That’s how you win over a senior influential leader.
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