On more than one occasion I have told potential employers during my interview that I would be the best employee they ever had – and it was true. It’s a goal I’ve had at every stop along my career and as I’ve become older, it’s become easier and easier to accomplish. I’ve finally reached a point in my career where I am no longer an employee of a firm but I still have the same objectives, now I want to be the most valuable person in my office …
… and I’m confident that I will make this happen, it just takes a little time and effort.
In no particular order of awesomeness, here are 5 simple concepts that you can put into place that might change the trajectory your career is on:
Make the firms problems your problems
Everybody likes the person who helps make their life a little easier. Making the effort to say “I can take care of this” and actually being able to care of things will always get you noticed as someone who can be counted on in a crisis. Solving these problems normally requires extra effort, extra time, and extra risk … but these are the only things that will legitimately get you to more responsibility.
Seek out opportunities
One thing that I always did that it seemed that few of my fellow architect’s co-workers did was go and ask my employers for responsibility. I believe that the employee/employer relationship works best for both groups when communication flows in both directions. While it is up to your employer to find you meaningful work to do, they can’t read your mind. If there are responsibilities that you WANT to do, you need to go and ask for it.
Learn the business vertically
This is an easy one – if you want to be the boss one day, you need to learn how to do the boss’s job. In order to positively impact other areas of the business, you have to step outside your comfort zone and learn some new skills … you might have to read a book or take a class. It’s what I’ve done in the past and I learned skills that I’ve been able to carry with me. You can also look to schedule lunch and learns, seminars and course materials to supplement your skillset.
Resolve problems before they become problems
One of my most favorite lessons (or maybe it’s a quote that I’ve co-opted into my own) is:
“Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.”
If you consistently fail or let down the people who count on you, why would they ever come back to you for assistance? Staying ahead of the issues is actually more important than how you are able to handle those issues once they’ve become problems.
Help hide the bodies
Sometimes, you have to tow the company line and take one for the team. As a residential architect, I have found myself in some situations that put me right in the middle between the clients I work for and the employers who pay my salary. When you think your employers are wrong, you need to stop a minute before you do something you regret and think about what happens tomorrow and the next day. This isn’t about compromising your values, this is about deciding which team you’re going to play for … and sometimes that means digging a hole and jumping in it.
These are the 5 things that I have consciously and consistently put into action wherever I’ve been employed for the last 15 years. Believe me when I tell you that it does make a difference.
Happy career advancement!