Make Yourself More Valuable at Work

Jobless claims fall to 5-year low, but hiring still sluggish – that’s today’s latest headline. Good news yes, but still troubling, because it’s mostly fewer layoffs not more jobs. Things may be improving but few believe that it’s a great time to be looking for work. So, what can you do to make sure you keep the job you have?  Here are some steps you can take right now to make yourself more valuable at work.

1. Make a “line of sight” connection between your job and a critical company result.
One good example comes from an L&D department. This function used traditional measures like program attendance and participant reactions, which were relevant but not powerful. When they switched their focus to increasing profit through better performance management skills, the function’s perceived value improved dramatically.

2. Make sure that your performance expectations are clear and shared.
Too often, employees have unclear or ambiguous goals. If this is true for you, then you may not know what successful performance looks like or, even worse, you and your manager will have very different pictures. If your expectations are not clear or shared, then have a talk with you manager to reset expectations together.

3. Make sure to discuss HOW, not just WHAT.
Most organizations spend too much time on targets and too little time on methods. In many companies, goal setting begins in August and often isn’t finished by January. Once the goals are set, the typical message seems to be “just do it” – with little discussion of methods. However, come appraisal time, managers suddenly seem to care about how you did your work, especially if you struggled or even missed your goals. Make sure to spend some time discussing things like preferred methods, boundaries on solutions, and potential roadblocks to avoid.

4. Make sure to engage others if you’re struggling to succeed.
Q – who’s the one person at work that’s never supposed to know when you’re struggling? A – your boss. That tired, old joke hides a sad truth. In this economy, it’s bad to struggle and even worse if your manager finds out. However, your manager may the best person to help you improve your performance. If you’re struggling – raise the issue quickly, focus on improvements, and ask for specific help. (Can you help me influence John? Not, John’s a pain, and I can’t get anything done with him.)

5. Make sure to explain HOW you did it.
There is a lovely old saying – victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. Everyone wants to claim success, but few people make the claim in a way that others can test. When you are successful, don’t just claim success, but also help others understand exactly how you achieved that result. When you explain how it worked, other can see that it was your actions that created that success and, when relevant, they can share those methods with others.

Times are still tough, but I hope that these ideas can really help you create better results and also claim your true value at work!

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