Welcome to part 5 in our 10-part series, we are half way there!
Today we will discuss the 4th way on my list of 10, which is to now learn, and know, what is critical to your company, and how to impact it.
This may seem similar to the 3rd way we discussed in the last blog, however it is immeasurably different, in that now we are discussing what is “absolutely critical to your organization, AND how to impact it”. What I mean by that is that there are several initiatives and programs that are important to an organization, but what is absolutely critical is far more impactful. And as such has more significance to being able to impact your career. You see something that is absolutely critical, basically means your company can’t do without.
If I was talking to someone working at an accounting firm, law firm, or some other professional firm, I can assure you that one of the most important or more critical components of their business is new client acquisition. So much so that to be someone in a role of partner or some other significant role within that organization, one of their key responsibilities is to bring in new business, often measured in revenue dollars. Now, I realize that may seem obvious for some people, but unless this is in someone’s job description, often they don’t see this as their responsibility. However, having worked for many small companies, I can assure you that it should be everyone’s responsibility to bring in new clients.
To add to this concept, let me also share that having attended college initially to get a degree in Accounting, I can assure you this was not part of our curriculum. As a matter of fact, none of my accounting classes, discussed in any detail, how important it was to market, sell, and close new clients, or upsell services. It just wasn’t something we discussed. Consequently, I would not have been trained to do this, nor would I have been comfortable with it. However, to attain the levels of success I strived for in my career, at most firms this skill would have been a necessity. Thus, I would have had to seek out more development in these skills to move my career along.
I’m not trying to debate the quality of my college education (although I’ll likely have some thoughts on that one day soon), but the reality is that many employees at the average organization would likely think very similarly regarding key components of the business, such as sales. If their role did not specifically require them to do certain tasks or know and understand new skills, they would not proactively make that effort. My point here is that, if you want to get ahead, you need to make it your goal to know what is critically important to your company and then position yourself to be someone who can impact that.
Having also been someone who migrated in to sales early in my career, realizing that all the money or promotions to be earned, at least most at that organization, would come from the sales field. Seeing this, I strategically positioned myself as an influential employee in a sales role initially. Then I sought training and development for myself, within the organization as well as outside, to enhance those skills so I could train others to do what I did, even better. Ultimately, I was not only considered a top producer, but I could hire and train even more top producers, which is a recipe for rapid promotion in just about any industry.
Now to this point, I have discussed mostly sales, as that is my background, however, this also applies to other key components of organizations, such as, Information Technology. The Tech world is advancing at an amazing rate, so much so that people who complete their bachelor’s degree in IT, by the time they reach their Senior year, much of the information they learned in their Freshman and Sophomore years is somewhat outdated. Understanding this, it would be imperative to make constant development of new technology imperative to your development in such a role.
Again, I understand that this likely goes without saying, however, something happens to many people when they transition from student to employee, they seem to think the learning stops and now you just work. That just isn’t how it works at all, unless you don’t care to move up or get ahead at your job, or in life, for that matter! Recognizing what is critical to an organization should be relatively easy. Pay attention to the key players at your organization, follow what they are focused on, see where they are investing their time and energy, and you will be able to quickly ascertain the critical components of your business. This practice will serve you well, next simply learn how to be able to impact these parts of the organization. Either through training, development, coaching, or even learning new skills, but don’t chalk it up as “not your job”, as many people do.
Finally, something that I need to reinforce here that may not be so obvious to many people, is the idea of Moore’s Law. Moore’s prediction, which is that microchip technology will double every 2 years, and has held for almost the last 40 years, makes this a relatively steady indicator of what we can expect in the coming years regarding technology. This means that, to get ahead in business you will need to adapt and embrace technology. You will need to be looking to what is coming, before it gets here. What I mean is, if you want to have the upper hand on your competition, you will need to invest time and energy into what is new and coming soon. Because if you wait till it’s here, it’s too late. So, if you are looking to get ahead at your company, learn what is important to the organization and invest time into understanding what is coming before it gets here.
Someone who makes such a commitment will certainly be well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities, almost before anyone else knows they are coming, potentially even before the decision makers themselves know…
Thanks for reading and we’ll get Part 6 out here shortly.