One of the best ways, if not the best, to move ahead in your company is by increasing how valuable you are to your employer. Nothing says you are material for a promotion like coming in day after day and demonstrating your value. But just being good at what you do and working hard might not suffice.
There is always that little extra you could be doing to improve your standing at your workplace. And in most cases, you should not mind doing it. The best way to increase your value as an employee is to acquire skills that supplement those you already possess. So even if things do not work out and you have to move on, you might end up being more employable.
The power of communication
Charles Phillips of Infor, a multinational software company, often highlights that he has a lot of five-minute meetings during the day. Phillips was the CEO and the person whose time was the most valuable in the company. So, if you worked there and needed to tell him something, would you waste his time or try to be as quick as possible?
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You want to be efficient. You want to be clear and concise. Get to the point. Clarity and conciseness are communication skills, and you can learn them.
They are not the only communication skills you should master, though. A large part of communication is non-verbal. It is in the tone of your voice, the position of your body parts, and hundreds of other little things like twitches and micro-expressions. You cannot master it all, but the least you can do is learn how to use body language to project confidence. And whatever you do, do not skip learning how to negotiate.
Focus your efforts
You are a part of a company because, in one way or another, you are contributing to its bottom line. If you were not doing that, you probably would not have the job. However, just because you are making some effect on the bottom line, it does not mean that you cannot increase it.
The better you understand your own position, the smarter you will be able to work. There is something called the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, that explains it. The rule says that 80 per cent of outcomes can be attributed to 20 per cent actions. For you, that means that the majority of your results at work come from a minority of the activities you perform. If you can analyze your position and determine the fifth of your activities that count the most, you will be able to focus on them.
Try to innovate
You can find a good use for your increased understanding of your position and the extra time you have on your hands. You can analyze your current position and how it relates to the rest of the company even deeper. You can try to identify problem areas that can be improved. Then, you can start thinking about improvements.
Innovation is part analytical skills, part creativity. You can practice your analytical skills by engaging in problem-solving activities. Doing math can help you, but so can doing different kinds of puzzles. Brain games are a fun way to boost your cognitive abilities, as is reading. The sharper you get, the better your analytical skills will be. Your creativity will also get better as you expose yourself to an increasing number of new things and activities.
Sing your own praises (with style and measure)
All the good work you have been doing might get noticed. It can also go totally unnoticed. The third option is that it gets noticed, but no one can track it back to your efforts. You want to be sure that the things you do are taken into account and are clearly linked to your activities.
The problem is that a lot of people are not too fond of singing their own praises. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you fail to link the results to your work, you will fail to link the value of the results to yourself. So, you need to find a way that lets you express your ideas and take credit for the work you have been doing.
Training and expanding your work-related hard skills is not the only way to increase your value as an employee. You can also practice soft skills that enable you to have better relationships with your coworkers and the management. You can also develop skills that make you more focused and efficient. Developing a knack for finding and solving problems will also help. And if you do all that work to increase your value as an employee, remember that you have the right to take credit for the benefits you bring to your company.
Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.
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