Add value first. Do your job second.
The first week of my first job out of college my boss’s boss called me into his office to ask how things were going.
“How has your first week been?”
“Great, I’ve learned a lot…”
“Stop right there. I don’t care about that. I’m not paying you to learn. If you want to learn you can pay me tuition. I’m paying you to do things. So, start again.”
Aside from learning my boss’s boss can be a jackass, it was also one of the best lessons I’ve learned about working in client service. You always have to add value.
Marketing and communications is strange in that our “product” is largely intangible. Sure you can point to a final video, script, or other visible work, but for the most part the value we can create is less obvious. As a result, it’s easier to do your work without adding more value. And because most of us work in multi-disciplinary teams, it become easy to focus on tasks. A better way is to focus on value and make sure what you are doing is adding the most value you can. Add value first. Do your job second.
How can you make sure you’re contributing value?
1) Solve problems.
The most obvious way too add value is to work toward solutions. Problems are everywhere. They’re what clients pay us to tackle. They’re what keeps us from getting a job done. It’s easy as part of a multi-disciplinary team to get insulated in your specific tasks, but addressing every challenge with a problem-solving mindset will quickly make you the most important (and desirable) person on the team.
2) Think smarter.
Don’t just follow the status quo. Innovate. Can you do the tasks in a different and better way? Can you step back from the immediate task and see if there is a faster/smarter/better solution? Taking the time to plan your work upfront is a surefire way to make sure that the work you do is the best it can be.
3) Iterate happily.
Nobody ever gets to final product the first time. You have to do versions. The first version is universally bad. So is the second. Do as many versions as the time allows. Then find time to do one more. Versioning feels tedious. It feels like extra work. It’s not. Iterating on your work product is how you make it better. And iterating happily will go a long way to your overall satisfaction.
Switching your mindset from “tasks” to “value” takes a little getting used to, but at the end of the day it makes you a more valuable employee and colleague.
Contributed by Jon Clements.