Last week I wrote three posts packed with resources on how to go from ideas to execution passing through the internal and external skeptics. The most daunting phase of doing anything, aside from deciding you are going to do it, is getting past the start. That is also what keeps us from sticking with resolutions or promises of any kind.
Here are five tips that will help you get past the "path of least resistance" hurdle and succeed at work.
1. Ask Why -- you, the strategist
In the routine of every day work, it is easy to get caught up in tactical mode. With the scarce resources available today, especially if you own your business, you feel the need to accomplish, to get things done. Your customers may be compounding the challenge by asking you for a brochure, a direct mail piece, or to put an ad in that popular magazine. These are delivery mechanisms; they will not help you determine what you want to communicate and who your markets are. If you want to be considered and paid as a strategist, ask why first. Then take the conversation to what needs to be done.
2. Results matter -- you, the investor
That's right; there are only 1440 minutes in a day and plenty of things to do. When you spend your time on something, you owe it to yourself to capture what you have accomplished by doing it. Make your strategy work by measuring its impact. Your time is a precious asset; invest it wisely by learning from your work -- mistakes included. The return on involvement should clearly communicate value to your boss and your customers.
3. Cultivate contacts -- you, the connector
We don't operate in isolation and in today's reality of work resources can make an enormous difference when you need to hit the ground running. Dedicating time every week on getting to know people inside and outside your company and meeting with potential business partners is an investment. There is a balancing act between being too accessible to pitches from vendors and developing relationships with suppliers. Reaching out to resources may pay off in the long run, especially when internal support has been cut down to the bone.
4. Plan to succeed -- you, the master thinker
Often we just start doing something without a specific plan in mind. We may know why, we may know what we're trying to accomplish, yet we do not know how to get there. What resources do you need? What activities and tactics will you employ? What are your critical path milestones? What is your timeline? I've worked with people who needed very tight deadlines to deliver on their part of the plan. Think about the DNA of your team, including your outside vendors. What information do they need from you to be an integral part of the plan's success?
5. Act the part -- you, the business statement
I meet business people at networking events all the time and I am amazed at how few professionals act and look the part. To be sure, your attire doesn't need to be outrageously expensive for you to have credibility. It just needs to be appropriate to the environment you are operating in. There are varying theories on what that means. I would consider clean lines and clothing that makes you feel comfortable and communicates who you want to be -- if you're going for that big promotion or new account, go for it in your appearance as well. And remember that your colleagues, customers, managers, and peers will pick up what you communicate about yourself in the way you behave.