May 23 2005

How to Succeed in Your Job

Published by at 5:08 pm under Uncategorized

Getting that raise or promotion is not simply a function of showing up to work each day. For that matter working hard isn’t the key to success either because you are expected to show up for work and put in the required effort. Here is a technique that has routinely resulted in raises and promotions.  It has six simple steps.  Look at those who have promoted or are the ‘shining stars’ in your company and you’ll usually find whether they knew it or not, they’ve followed these steps.  You can to.  This article is also good to pass both up and down in your organization to those who need it.Success in any job takes a fair degree of luck, but also has the prerequisite of standing out from others. If promotion is your goal (either financially, technically or with a better job title) you need to be perceived and the ‘go-to Dude <or Dudette>‘ to get that raise or promotion. Here’s a proven technique that has a high percentage of success.

 

LEARN IT

This is where you are taught. You read about it, someone demonstrates it or you acquire this information by some other method. “It” is the technique, skill, procedure, or concept that will directly improve or affect how you do your job. This is strictly at the ‘Monkey see Monkey do’ level. You are learning this by rote simply as an addition to your skill set.

 

UNDERSTAND IT

After acquiring the ‘What’ or ‘How to’ part of this equation we now must understand the concept and question why it works. Learning any by rote is something like programming a spreadsheet. So long as you put all the required data into the proper cells, the proper answer is calculated. But what happens if you don’t have enough inputs or someone slipped in some new ‘important’ variables? If you don’t understand what the spreadsheet is doing you won’t know what to do with incomplete or excess data.

Anything you learn you should be able to challenge with the simple question “Why?” If the answer comes back in one form or another “We always did it that way” or “It just works”, the person who taught you doesn’t know either. You need to look for better information. Do your homework. Everything works for a reason. If you were taught that the way to get rid of a short shot is to increase the pressure, what happens if you ran out of material? Would an increase in pressure help? But what if you were taught there were several causes of a short shot, with insufficient pressure being one of them. You’d probably solve the problem quicker than wondering why what you learned by rote didn’t work.

 

DO IT

I’ve been in perhaps 100’s of companies. While they all have the same basic equipment, products and practices; they are all different. Each shop has it’s own special way of operating, expectations on quality, productivity and profit. This means determining what you can apply has to be adapted to your particular operation.

This takes us back to why you shouldn’t only just LEARN. Suppose you’ve just come back from a convention and attended a seminar on process control through using microprocessors and pressure transducers. The speaker captivated you. You read the handout like it was Holy Writ and after buying the speaker dinner and picking his brains all night you thought you had a good understanding of the process. Unfortunately, your plant doesn’t have any of the equipment shown in the presentation and the President informs you that it isn’t in the budget nor did he expect it to be. This knowledge isn’t useless; it merely has to be adapted to your operation. OK you don’t have a cavity pressure transducer. But you still want to see the pressures during the process to apply the concepts of Disciplined Molding. Look at the machine’s screen. Yes, it will be second hand because the oil pressure is trying to tell you what the plastic pressure is and other inaccuracies; but you can still apply the principles.

 

IMPROVE IT

Very few things have been taken to a place where they can no longer be improved or adapted for use somewhere else. As you apply what you’ve learned you’ll find little tricks or techniques that will make what you initially learned, thought you understood – – just a little bit better. If you have five people sitting around a table and each of them look at a tray of donuts in the center they all see the same thing differently. It’s the same way with problem solving. The ‘group’ IQ is usually higher than any individual’s. Ask questions, solicit opinions and listen to the answers no matter how goofy they seem at the time. Usually you’ll learn something new. Sometimes you’ll find you learned something that was based on complete bogus data (some enduring examples are ‘The earth is the center of the Universe’ or ‘it’s magic!’). Understand what you’ve learned so that you can apply it or stop people from spreading bogus facts. Lesson: Pay Attention.

 

TEACH IT

Teachers are interesting people because they are ‘Learned Communicators’. It is very difficult to communicate a concept if you don’t understand it. The very act of teaching will allow you to deepen your own understanding. I’ve taught seminars for more than 20 years and each time I teach one I always come out with a new idea or another facet of understanding I didn’t have before. Many times the person who gave me this information couldn’t explain it or understand it but by working together we both came out a little smarter.

 

REPEAT IT

This is a continuous process. The more you learn, understand, do, improve and teach, the more you have to start again but this time with a higher level of expertise. Those who think they’ve learned (know) it all will be beaten by the folks who merely try to keep up. Learning is a continuous process and the mind has an almost infinite capacity to absorb knowledge.

That’s it. There is nothing more complex than what I’ve just described as your career promotion path.

 

If you are a Tech wanting to become a Lead Tech, Lead Tech wanting to be Supervisor, Supervisor wanting to be Manager; being the Guru who dispenses knowledge only when necessary will force you to stay at your job and never promote: You are too valuable in that position and the company cannot afford to put you elsewhere (this is why you TEACH others).

 

On the other side of the coin there is nothing more useless than a manager that doesn’t have at least a working knowledge of the operation he or she is managing. While management doesn’t have to be able to outguess the folks below them or be able to do their jobs, management should be able to understand and guide (dare we say ‘manage’?) the workforce to continue learning, improving, and developing more talent internally.

 

By using this simple technique you can ‘promote your boss’. Naturally if it is your efforts that have caused him to look like a Greek God, you’ll be the logical replacement because you’ll have a competent staff of those under you who will continue to improve as you coach them. As part of your management philosophy make sure you encourage and reward those below you to use this process – there’s an interesting side benefit: In plants that use this technique everyone tends to pitch in. You don’t hear a lot about ‘those morons on midnight shift’ or the bigoted comments about having women or various races in supervision. It doesn’t matter who your teacher is so long as you learn. It further doesn’t matter who your pupils are when you teach so long as you teach them.

 The important piece of corporate politics everyone should remember is to “Take care of the people who take care of you, and stay away from those who don’t.” No, this is not a perfect world, and while using this technique is generally successful there’s no guarantee the president’s fishing buddy might be moved in as your manager. Stuff like that happens. But never forget you always get paid two ways in every job. First you get the paycheck you take home and pay the bills with. But improving the skills and techniques you learned on the job also has value. They can’t take away the knowledge you’ve acquired and it can always be used profitably elsewhere.

Bill Tobin

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