Many people fall into a complacent mindset and feel if they are performing at the minimum standard then they are in a so-called “safe zone”. The truth is in business there are no safe zones only profits and losses, and breaking even is one step away from a loss. Therefore, the safe zone that some feel they occupy is not safe at all, but a step from purgatory and termination. You need to know your worth at all times and the best way to do that is by ensuring your presence and name is always on the list of assets. In volatile economic climates or competitive environment, it is best to be known for your outstanding performance over how well you make coffee or run errands.
Performance does not simply entail production output or being employee of the month. Your performance can be judge on several different spokes and levels of your specialty or job description, so do not make the mistake of thinking your position is secured because you have achieved the minimum standard or consistently hit your quota. A healthy organization can be compared to the human body that sheds dead cells, regenerates new cells, fights off infections, and is in need of nourishment. In the process of going through its life cycle the body sheds, attacks, and destroys good cells in order for the entire organism to survive. The key to survival is being in the category of becoming a major organ. Plainly put you want to be an asset to your organization by becoming a needed part of a valuable team. A player that is essential to the on going success of the organization.
If you have that feeling like you are below the radar and in that safe zone, then you are living in the shadows and not truly integrating yourself into your organization. In this mindset, there should be no shock when your name or position is chosen as disposable and nonviable. The key to becoming an asset is knowing your current position and the positions below and above it and strategically becoming an inspiration to one and a supporter to the other. You see you do not have to be the top producer in your department or organization to be an asset you want to be the catalyst that contributes to an environment that creates the opportunity for top performance to exist. Please don’t mistake this with being the designated cheerleader or lead brown-noser in your organization. Your objective is not to be simply seen or become your supervisors yes person or coffee runner.
The biggest thing you can start with is your down time. First off there is no such thing as downtime. Every moment of the day you are projecting an image of yourself to your supervisors and your peers, so whether you’re telling jokes at the beverage machine, lunch, or simply smoking a cigarette during a break you are communicating whether you are an asset or liability. Take these times to learn more about the two job positions discussed, which are the positions beneath yours and the ones above. Create a circle of influence within both groups by taking the time to listen, learn, and extend assistance to each level that overlaps your duties or responsibilities. Simply committing to having a better attitude will up your game and create a bridge out of the shadows.
You may not be the CEO or lead person in your department; however, this doesn’t mean you can’t lead by example. A small task such as making it a habit to greet everyone within a certain distance from you with a smile and the appropriate greeting of the day puts you in a favorable position in people’s minds. Spend an extra 15 minutes after work to prepare your area or task for the next day. If you’re on a clock, punch out then spend that extra 15 minutes prepping for the next day. Make your way into work 5-15 minutes early, if you can’t do both at least commit to one. That extra 15-30 minutes out of your day will be perceived as hours to others and marked as dedication and commitment.
During your downtime personally deliver messages face to face oppose to using emails and postings. Your intention is not to waste time, but to give others the opportunity to recognize your existence and offer you the chance to get to know others in different departments or within the two job levels mentioned earlier. Make your appearances meaningful and short loitering and prolonged stays are a good way to increase the probability of being seen as an unwelcome distraction and as an un-respected opportunist. Always be aware of your actions and keep your communications positive and your opinions neutral. Your words are very powerful tools or weapons and can have an everlasting effect especially when written, so be sure whatever you communicate is meaningful and valuable to the entire organization.
Your association will make or break you in your organization, so be in control of your circle of influence (C.O.I.). We have a tendency to want to be in what we consider the “in crowd” or associate with others who are admired. The golden rule is to avoid being heavily associated with cliques or give others the reason to attach you to certain groups. You achieve this by staying focused on your end result of being an asset to your organization, and govern your activities properly. Be the first to give a colleague a helping hand and praise those who are doing well. Offering your assistance does not mean taking a colleague under your wing as a personal project. This is important to remember because not all people play by the same rules and you could find yourself in a situation of betrayal. Your assistance should stay within the scope of your overlapping positions discussed earlier and remain focused on the objective of accomplishing specific organizational missions over wining the acceptance of your peers or supervisors, which leads to your performance.
As mentioned before you do not need to be the star of your department; however, you need to shine brightly enough to be considered a vital part of the organization. Know your job, responsibilities, and duties and how they effect the levels above and below your position. Invest in learning more about your organization and its history as well as keep in touch with its objectives and future plans. See yourself as asset and you’ll eventually act as if you are and position yourself to grow beyond the position you currently hold.
You don’t have to play office politics, but you do need to understand how it works, and don’t forget our goal is to help you grow.
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