Three weeks ago I wrote about the talent revolution (February 2, 2017). The essence of the piece is that too many organizations fail to develop talent; instead they treat employees as a commodity of “warm bodies”. However, employers do not deserve all the blame…often employees fail to take accountability for their own careers!
I spent the better part of two decades working for a few of the top professional service firms. The one overwhelming principle I learned from this experience is that I needed to show high-value results on a regular basis. Certainly, our clients were paying good money to disrupt the status quo in their organizations and they needed an expert problem solver. My first lesson in my career was to leave my “radar” on – always looking for ways to remove barriers to preforming my job and providing outstanding service to my clients.
My next lesson was to focus on continuous learning. My first large consulting assignment was reviewing the entire operations of a 400-bed hospital. I had been recruited from the operations analysis group of a large insurance company. Making an operational improvement recommendation in an insurance operation that is not 100% right may mean that your claim gets paid a day late, but in a hospital it could mean the difference between life and death. I had to learn, and learn fast, everything I could about hospital operations. My next big assignment was with a utility company, again, I was in perpetual mode of learning. By the end of each of these assignments, I knew more about the overall operation of these organizations than almost anyone else that had been working at the client sites for years.
In sharing my experiences with you, I hope that you feel inspired to reflect upon your own career. Let’s say you are a receptionist whose job it is to answer telephones and welcome guests coming into your organization. Learning those tasks does not take a great deal of effort. After learning these tasks, rather than just sitting back and doing “your job”, you could be continuously learning more about your organization, such as: what are the primary services or products offered in each department; what is your organization’s competitive advantage; who are your key clients or customers; and what are the top outside issues affecting your industry? If you would redefine your job as “professional services consultant”, you may improve your overall performance and add value to your organization.
In any job, you can develop the discipline to reinvigorate your career. Try this: invest just 20 minutes each day in you. Spend 10 minutes before work learning more about your own company and industry, and 10 minutes after work thinking of ways to remove barriers to providing outstanding customer service. That 20 minutes a day equates to over 80 hours a year spent on your personal development. The talent revolution can begin with you!