I see (broadly, for the sake of this discussion) two types of people in their careers.
- People who see their job description as a minimum requirement, and respond with the minimum effort to collect a paycheck.
- People who see their role as a contract with the business to deliver value, and they are always looking for ways to add more value, both to improve the business, and to raise their level of commensurate compensation.
Do more than your job description
If you are in the first group, you are probably not reading this blog, but it’s important to realize that you are at risk if you never invest additional effort, or if you never think about what more you should or could be doing.
You can’t count on your job description, as written, to be the right job over time.
Your job description is valid for a moment in time — the moment when it is first given to you. As soon as you start doing the job, what the job needs to be evolves as the business grows and as the world changes.
If you do your job as written for too long a period of time, you will become out of date. You will begin to lose relevance to the business.
When it’s time for layoffs, as we are all too-frequently experiencing these days, the people who are the ones at risk are the ones who are standing still, doing only their job description as it was written years ago.
Don’t wait to be asked or directed
You need to figure this out for yourself.
Yes, you need to do your job, but you also to think about how to improve the way your job is done.
High performers break through the limits of their job description and figure out how to do BETTER.
Don’t give this extra work of figuring out how your job needs to evolve to your boss. Sort it out on your own and YOU make a recommendation.
So, what adds value?
I have collected some questions that will help you figure out how to tune your job over time to make sure you are increasing the value you deliver, and you are evolving with the changing business needs.
1. Who uses my work & what do they need most?
- Who are the consumers of each piece of work that I do?
- Do they still use it? Do they still need it?
- Do they pass it on to others? What do those people need?
- Can the content I deliver be modified to be more useful or relevant?
- Can the manner in which I deliver it be improved to be more useful or relevant?
Note: Stop producing work no one cares about.
Check! I know so many organizations that are over-busy producing reports, analysis, or sales and marketing that no one uses. Don’t burn up your time on things that no one cares about. DO actively learn what they find most useful, and tune what you produce to be more valuable.
2. What business outcomes does my work drive?
- What is the business outcome that happens as a result of my producing this work?
- How does my work impact profit?
- Does my work impact quality, innovation, efficiency, competitiveness, cost reduction, process improvement, sales effectiveness…
- Can I tune my work to create a better or different business outcome?
Note: If you can’t connect your work to a business outcome, you are in danger of not being relevant.
If you are not relevant you are not adding enough value. You need to stay educated on the most important outcomes the business is driving and stay connected with them.
Even if you are a cost center providing an internal service, you need to find ways to improve efficiency or usefulness.
So even if you can’t connect the dots from the internal service you provide to a specific business initiative, if you increase efficiency, you impact profit. That is a business value.
3. What does my work cost?
- How much does it cost the company for me to do this work?
- Can it be done for less?
- What happens to my work after it’s delivered?
- What are the downstream costs of the things that I do?
- Who else does my work cause work or costs for?
- Is there a way to make my work more efficient for others?
Note: Own improving the outcomes your work causes, not just delivering the work.
Always be finding ways to take cost out. If you produce 50 reports, maybe 20 BETTER reports would do? (Everyone will like 20 reports better than 50!)
If you do things manually or in a chaotic reactive mode, how many people are impacted by this?
How can you create a process to streamline the work, make it less complicated, and require fewer touch points, questions, or follow-ups?
4. What has changed?
- What has changed in the market since I started this job?
- What has changed in our customers’ business since I started this job?
- What has changed in our competitors’ business since I started this job?
- What has changed inside our company since I started this job?
- Do these changes require a change in the way my job is done?
Note: If you are not evolving your job, you will no longer be qualified when the game changes.
Or you will be doing the wrong job, and your job will get eliminated. Be the one to recommend changing your job to meet the evolving business needs.
5. Growth & Scaling
- How much has the company grown since I started this job?
- How much does the company plan to grow in the future?
- What still works in the way I do my job if the company is much bigger?
- Which things about how I do my job don’t work if the company is bigger?
Note: When companies get bigger all the jobs change.
You can’t keep using the same way of working. It doesn’t scale.
You can be the one to build a new process that will scale, or you can be the one who gets pushed aside by someone with experience at a bigger company.
6. Help others
- What can I do to communicate better?
- How can I share more knowledge?
- How can I teach someone to be more effective?
- How can I help someone step into a bigger role?
- How can I help someone believe that something bigger is possible for them.
Note: If you are not helping others, you are not adding enough value.
The other upside is that helping others can put a meaning into an otherwise unfulfilling job.
If you are feeling unsatisfied about being in a corporate role that doesn’t make enough difference in the world, help someone. When you help someone else, you change the world for that person.
I see a lot of people thinking that answering these questions is not part of their job. They wait for others to answer them, and await new instructions from their manager.
It’s dangerous to rely on your job description to tell you what to do, or to wait for your manager to tune your job along the way. It’s much safer (and you are adding more value) when you do it yourself.
Take that weight off your manager. You decide what needs to get done to drive the future goals and continue to add the most value.
This was originally published on Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. Her latest book is Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life.