Many of us grew up with parents who always challenged us to be our best. “Take pride in everything you do” “Do the very best you can before turning in your assignment” “Check your work!” Given the many times these lessons were repeated during our childhoods, it’s a reasonable assumption that the outcome just might be an attitude of high achievement that comes from within and lasts a lifetime. If this is the case, why is it that the impact of so many of these lessons seem to be absent from the workplace?
Most careers begin by starting out in an entry level position and progressing forward, as skills and competencies develop and opportunities for advancement emerge. One of the important factors that employers consider in this regard is the degree of self managed initiative and “ownership” that a staff member exhibits in performing their job. In other words, are staff members challenging themselves to generate the best possible work, or are they simply putting in a marginal effort and passing their output to the next level without any real accountability for the results?
Experienced executives know that there are a number of skills that are crucial for achieving success in their role; consistently demonstrating high quality results is certainly on the list. Taking the initiative to understand and adopt these important skills can differentiate you from others in your peer group and generate better results today, while helping to prepare you for advancement tomorrow. In this series, we have already considered the importance of comprehensive reading and clear communication. Here’s more about why taking ownership of your role to generate great results is so important.
Where it Goes Wrong
Here’s some information that might be a bit of a news flash to those who fail to advance in the workplace: it is not your supervisor’s role to find the mistakes in your work- it is your responsibility to do so.
Yes, it’s true that supervisors and managers do find errors in the work of others, but quite frankly, this often occurs in the course of performing their actual role (i.e., being responsible for a particular area of a business), and also, unfortunately, because too many staff members don’t take enough care in completing their work. As a result of this situation, staff members who live by the rules of always putting their best effort forward are easily differentiated from their peers and often have the best opportunity to advance to more senior roles.
Put yourself on the executive path by remembering the good advice that many of us received years ago- take pride in your work! Gain the reputation of bringing quality and reliability to everything you do; here’s how to get started:
- Understand the requirements first. When approaching any task, take the time to fully understand what is required. Read instructions fully and make the effort to ask for clarification where required (flashback to our first article in this series: it’s amazing how many people don’t take the time to read thoroughly!). Time to prepare well is time well spent.
- Take notes. Experienced executives recognize that the corporate world is complex and the number of tasks at hand can be extensive. Thinking that you will remember it all doesn’t make you look smart; it makes you look inexperienced! Taking notes on how to complete tasks and workplace assignments is an important support to generating a quality result. It also allows you to build your own reference manual.
- Check your work. Once you have completed a task, step back and review it from a fresh perspective. Make yourself accountable for finding any mistakes or areas of improvement before passing your work to the next person.
- Learn how supervisors and managers approach their review role. Take the opportunity to speak with your supervisor to learn more about what they look for when reviewing the work of others. Ask them what success “looks like” for the particular task in order to visualize and better understand what you need to do to generate a successful outcome.
- Document and learn from your mistakes. Treat every experience where feedback is received as an opportunity to learn and improve. Remember that supervisors expect staff members to learn from these experiences and not make the same mistakes in the future. Challenge yourself to never make the same mistake twice.
It’s often been said that work that is done quickly, but not correctly, is of no value. This is true. Add up your time to complete the task initially; your supervisor’s time to review your (substandard) work; and the time to revise and review the work again and this lesson becomes crystal clear. The real risk, however, is situations where poorly completed work somehow makes it through the review process into a larger realm, potentially damaging the company and, perhaps, others. This risk alone is reason enough to check your work!