There you are: manager, specialist, director, producer, editor, chief. You’ve put in the time, taken diligent mental notes as well as hard notes, produced reports, managed teams, led discussions, and became the thought provoker everyone looks to for answers at a meeting. You are owning it at your job, but are you helping yourself and the company as a whole in the long run? Are you really the game changer you think you are?
Sure, you say: I’ve created X number of things that have generated Y number of sales. That’s great! But what will really take your company and your job to the next level is if you create something that helps it grow. Think about it in terms of William Pollard’s analysis of success: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” The idea of continuous learning and success is what brings me to my point. You have to learn more than your job to bring innovative thinking to the table. You need to know not only your job, but everyone’s job in your chain of command and outside it. If you don’t know what other people do at your company, then you don’t fully understand your job and your impact on profit.
Baking is a great analogy here. If you leave out just one ingredient in cookie batter, the cookie is going to turn out poorly or at least not be what you wanted it to be. To drive the point home now that I’ve distracted you with sugary goodness, quickly check out this science of the best chocolate chip cookie article: Do you see that even if you change the ingredients slightly, you get a drastically different product?
That different product is what you’re looking for. Can you produce something novel, provide unexpected insight, shake things up just a little bit that it leads to innovation within the workplace? It doesn’t have to be huge. Just utilize small insights from what you learn from others’ day-to-day work to improve your own.
For example, in my job I work with ads, a bunch of ads—digital, print, vanity—on a variety of platforms: social, search, and environmental. Each specific ad platform has a manager with insight into their ad platform, strategy, and budgeting, but at the end of the day if their ad doesn’t work with the other ads out there to create the best awareness campaign, then we’ve just missed an opportunity to maximize our return on investment. If our managers don’t know what the other managers do then they have the potential to mistarget a demographic, to miss messaging, and overall just miss out on the full picture.
To sum it all up, here are my suggestions on really owning at your job.
- Talk to people, all kinds of people from the junior to the director, in every department that you can to really understand what they do and how that adds to the company’s goals.
- Learn what makes them tick and what gets them excited about their job. What about a given task or what they provide on a day-to-day basis gets them excited?
- Try their approach in coordination with yours. Try one of the tools they use with your data, try to replicate a macro they use in a new way, just try to think outside the box. You may be surprised to see how many new things you can create that may change things for the better.