Everyone starts somewhere in their career. For me it was at the very bottom as a Payments Clerk in Glasgow earning £1,500 a year. Although most start of the bottom, there is often a huge variation between those who go on to achieve the success they want and those that struggle.
One thing I am very clear about that there really is no instant success formula or blueprint that somehow takes you from base 1 to base 10 in one step. The reality is that career success is achieved over the long term.
While achieving the success you desire might well be a long term project, what you do along the way makes a big difference. So what impact are you having at work right now?
When we are busy it is very easy to get into doing mode. By that I mean we think that we are making an impact because we are getting a lot of stuff done.
Now let’s not pretend that getting things done is not important. It clearly is. Otherwise your job would not exist.
On the other hand when we measure our impact in terms of what we are getting done, it is easy to lose sight of whether what we are doing is really making a difference or having any impact on short, medium and longer term performance.
Most of us if never take time to stop, take stock and think about whether our contribution is as good as it could be. I am sure like most professionals you face the struggle of too much to do and too little time.
Yet it is at these times you get greatest value from stopping and considering whether you are making the impact you want. More importantly to discover whether the impact you are having is being valued by your customers (internal or external) and those that you report to.
So how might you make a greater impact at work?
Find Out What Matters
Most have a job description, objective setting sessions and appraisals so one might assume that what matters is blindingly obvious. Yet when I have asked clients to define their 5 most important results, they struggle. Even more alarming is the disconnect between what they think and what their boss thinks, even with a good appraisal system.
Start To Think About Allocating Your Time Differently
In any role there is the work that needs to be tackled now. We might call this the maintenance aspect of the job. There are also projects which might not be going to deliver immediate results but are critical in the medium term. There are also staff who really determine whether you are successful or not. You need to make time to train and develop them.
The point is that if you only ever focus time and energy on the maintenance aspect of the job, you probably are not seen as someone who can initiate change and improvement. So if there is the chance for promotion chances are you will not be identified as the person who has the right qualities and attributes.
Play To Your Strengths
You might think that you can be great at everything. The truth is you can’t. We all have areas in which we excel and areas where we struggle. You want to discover what those areas are. Once you do you want to play to your strengths and do what you do best.
I for example was never brilliant with spreadsheets. There were others on my team who were. It would have been easy to be stubborn and try to become brilliant in this area. Yet I knew that it was far more beneficial to me and organisations I worked for to focus on what I did well.
The challenges facing organisations and those working in them are not getting easier. What this means that if you are going to be an asset and make an impact you have to keep developing.
It surprises me just how many people from professional backgrounds who often have access to no or low cost professional development do little or nothing in this area. The reality is you never know it all. None of us does.
The Bottom Line: There are never any guarantees in terms of career. At the same time there is an awful lot you can do to stack the odds in your favour.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals achieve more career success. Learn more here
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.