Investing to Get Ahead at Work
Square-1's managing director Travis Smith is co-host of The Business Wingmen Show, a podcast covering business behaviors, strategies, leadership and much more. This week's episode...
EPISODE 89: Investing to Get Ahead at Work
Making advancements in your career or your business means investing in yourself and the people with potential. But, how do you know it will pay off? Listen in as your Business Wingmen podcast co-hosts, Steve Smith & Travis Smith dissect why investing to get ahead at work makes sense, and just as important doing so proactively can change the game!
Listen in to episode 89 here:
[This article is also featured on episode 72 of the Business Wingmen Podcast Show]
Successful performance is everything! Our ability to execute at work is something we as professionals need to strive towards every day, yet many of our colleagues seem to have forgotten this time-tested reality of business. As Rory Vaden, bestselling business author and leadership speaker, accurately shares, “success is not owned, it is rented - and that rent is due everyday.”
Vaden hits on a key piece which would serve all of us well to keep in mind as we come to work - our ability to successfully perform our job is what keeps us gainfully employed. I’ll take it a step further, what got us the job was our credentials, the things we’ve done in the past. What keeps us in the job thereafter is 100% our ability to get things done – the things that matter to the company and our respective performance.
The same is certainly true in the consulting world, frankly I would argue it’s even more focused on performance and execution than a normal 8-5 full-time job is. The world of consulting can be summed up in 3 words: execute, execute, execute! Anything less and you’ve missed the mark.
Consultants, like many of our fully employed brethren, has a tendency to forget the reason they are there, the reason they have a job – it’s to fix, solve and solution other peoples’ problems. Our inability to do this will inevitably lead to a consultant, or consulting firm, finding themselves unemployed or not getting asked back to continue supporting their customers. It’s for these reasons we need to employ the below five ‘best practices’ in our daily work. Your ability to do so will do two things – help keep you focused on what matters (successful execution of your task or job) while separating yourself from the competition and or your colleagues.
Best Practice #1 – Proactive Communication
If you’ve ever had some one say to you, especially someone in management, “can you give me an update on where you’re at with X”, you’ve just failed the first lesson of communication. Professionals who operate at a high level understand the importance of fluid and consistent communication. They know it’s important to communicate proactively, ahead of time. They don’t wait until the last minute to spring an urgent matter on the team or their boss, they don’t procrastinate, and they certainly don’t wait to inform those around them they are going to miss a deadline the day the deadline is due. Proactive communication is all about respecting the process and those around you.
Best Practice #2 – Positive Mindset
The beautiful thing about the way our minds work is we have an incredible amount of power over most of what happens in our heads. In particular, our outlook on things, our attitude, is 100% within our control. If we show up to work with a bad attitude, closed to others ideas, not welcoming feedback and or unwilling to collaborate with others we quickly will build a reputation as a person on the fringes. There’s no quicker way to alienate oneself from a team or your boss than by having a poor attitude. Yes, we all have our bad days – it happens even to the best of us. What’s important is to have your moment and then move on. Focus on what you can control and be open to ideas, different approaches and perspectives. An open and positive mindset is contagious causing your colleagues to feel invigorated working with those of us who can come to the table and leave the sourness at the door. Positive thinking also boosts our health by reducing stress!
Best Practice #3 – Ownership
We don’t need to be in management or the owner of a company to operate in a capacity of owning our work. Those of us who employ ‘ownership’ in our work don’t make excuses for shortcomings, we don’t worry about excuses because we’re busy finding solutions. When we own our work we don’t wait to be told what to do, we seek work proactively and or ways to improve things around us. People who operate with an ownership mentality have a tendency of being able to make decisions quicker while experiencing success more often. If you’ve ever said “that isn’t a part of my job description” you just failed the ownership best practice. People who own their work get promoted more, are typically paid higher wages and increasingly get called back to help with projects. They take responsibility for how they show up and encourage others around them to do the same.
Of all the best practices listed in this article it is my humble opinion the practice of owning ones work and being accountable for it carries with it the biggest positive impact on our jobs.
Best Practice #4 – Accessibility
In the dawn of everyone working from home these days, or remotely, being able to get a hold of someone during normal working hours is critical. Simply put – if your boss has to track you down every time they need to reach you it probably isn’t going to end well for you in that job. Same is true if your company uses communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These tools are used to improve communication amongst the team, if you aren’t logged into the tool and or are unresponsive, you’re setting yourself up for a quick career death in your job. This doesn’t mean you need to be chained to your desk or phone eagerly awaiting the next hopeful call by a colleague or boss. What it does mean is that you need to be mindful of the various ways in which your company communicates and be attentive to those processes. If people feel like its easy to get in touch with you and or you respond quickly, they will invariably feel you are on top of things and are a reliable person to work with.
For example, our company practices the ‘1/24 rule’ during standard business hours. We expect our teammates to acknowledge a communication with a response within an hour and provide an answer, or what to expect next within 24 hours. We aren’t perfect at this down to the minute (as that would be unrealistic) but I’ll be the first to say this practice makes our teammates highly proficient and therefore their jobs easier.
Best Practice #5 – Systems & Tools
Whether you’re a consultant, an employee or just new to your job, in today’s world there’s no excuse for not learning a company’s procedures, systems and tools. Those of us who choose not to work within these parameters typically find ourselves making careless mistakes, coming up short on our projects and irritating the heck out of our colleagues and management. Why is this? Well, when we don’t use a tool right, or don’t follow a certain SOP accurately it inevitably makes more work for someone else down the road. Trust me when I say every one hates having to fix other people’s inaccuracies, especially when it’s documentation related. If you’re new to a company do everything you can to quickly spool up by learning the tools, systems, workflows and documentation processes. The quicker you learn it the better your work product and output will be. People may just like working with you better as a result.
While there are many things which lead to someone being successful in their line of work, I firmly believe these five best practices are things all professionals can do, regardless of their experience, education level, etc. We have a choice to make every day when we show up to work – be the best at what we do or simply be average. As the job market continues to tighten up those of us who are average will find themselves unemployed far more frequently than those of us who choose to operate at a high frequency. It’s a choice – do you have what it takes?
The Future of Business in California
TODAY AT 4 PM pacific!
Business owners of all industries and sizes have had to battle many challenges over the last year; pandemic, economic, societal, technological and political, just to name a few. All of these challenges have served up their own unique obstacles to deal with.
The hosts of Business Wingmen Podcast Show Steve and Travis host a special guest, Major Williams, who will talk about today's business climate and his vision for the future of business in California.
Join us to meet Major Williams - a seasoned entrepreneur, business owner and now candidate of Governor of California!
Listen in on the discussion at www.businesswingmen.com
#podcast #business #california #majorwilliams #economy #future #leadership #businesswingmen
We’re living in some wild times right now. Wild in the sense that life is changing rapidly around us, so fast in fact it can be challenging to keep up with it all. This is certainly the way of the world and what we can expect for the foreseeable future.
While change is inevitable, some change isn’t always for the best. Enter LinkedIn.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of LinkedIn you may be surprised to know it actually went live in May of 2003. You read that right, LinkedIn got started even before YouTube and Facebook. In the beginning LinkedIn’s mission statement was ‘connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful’.
This is the foundation, the bedrock, of what LinkedIn was supposed to be.
Fast forward to today, LinkedIn now owned by Microsoft since 2016, still has this same mission yet the actual user experience of the platform is anything but business focused. A quick scroll down LinkedIn’s running content feed reveals content posted by people and companies covering literally every spectrum imaginable from business, politics, religion, personal pictures and even cat memes. Lots of memes.
This, in my most humble of opinions, is an unfortunate perversion of the platform.
Today there are literally dozens of social media platforms offering us the opportunity to connect, speak our minds, share content while being paper tigers and internet trolls. So why is it LinkedIn keeps going the way of everyone else and allowing content that isn’t business related? It’s lost its competitive advantage. Why also are we as users adulterating this platform making it like all the others?
As a daily user of LinkedIn my soul purpose for using this platform is for business purposes, so naturally this is my bias.
I don’t use LinkedIn for anything else except business and on a daily basis wish that was the case for everyone else on the platform. I’m aware this is a big wish, perhaps colossal. There are dozens of other social communication platforms available for non-business purposes including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, Tumblr, QQ, etc. If you want to post something non-business related you have a never-ending list of options at your disposal outside of LinkedIn.
About a year ago I made a personal decision to remove myself permanently from all other social media platforms as I felt like the time I was spending on them, along with the negativity, wasn’t providing good value in my life. Fast forward to today, it’s hard to discern the difference between LinkedIn and other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. This, again in my most humble of opinions, is a sad statement as the idea and original intention of what LinkedIn was supposed to be is a great thing. One which I believe is greatly needed in the world of business.
So here is my ask – please stop using LinkedIn for non-business purposes.
Take your cat memes, politics, religious statements and personal content to Facebook where it belongs.
That being said, in the nicest way I know possible, here’s what I’m not saying in the above statement:
I’m also well aware of the fact that one can simply pass by unwanted content on LinkedIn they don’t like and or remove the connection or hide the content for future purposes. While yes, that is a possible solution it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. Hiding or just passing by unwanted content is a form of indifference. E.W. Howe is quoted as saying “The most destructive criticism is indifference”. I agree.
I remain convinced, even more so today, LinkedIn should and must remain focused solely on business. No exceptions.
If you feel the same way about removing non-business content on LinkedIn I ask you to join me in using this hash tag any time you see content that isn’t business related.
Perhaps over time we can turn the tides and get this platform back to the way it was intended to be – for business purposes only.
Be well & live wisely.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.