Raising your game – how to be a high achiever
It is often said in business that everyone is replaceable - but that is true only to a certain degree. Each professional brings his or her own unique set of skills, attributes and experience to the job.
What determines your ‘employee value’ - i.e. what makes someone ‘irreplaceable’ in the eyes of an employer - is ensuring all of those things remain relevant, and continue adding value, to the business.
This doesn’t mean you suddenly have to double your workload, try to lead every project or work longer hours than all of your colleagues. There are many ways you can raise your game and increase your employee value without completely upturning your own routine or stepping on others’ toes.
As you go through your workday, make it a habit to consider whether something could be done smarter. Don’t get comfortable with the status quo. Questioning yourself forces you to think deeper and possibly come up with better strategies.
Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK, says: ‘Asking others questions helps you consider and realise different perspectives. Pick colleagues’ brains about what they do, how they do it, their best practices, the mistakes they have made and what they have learned from them. Digging deeper can uncover new opportunities and keep your strategic-thinking skills sharp.’
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Think about how you would like your career to progress and in which areas you might need to build new skills. Today, the finance function is going through the biggest era of transformation.
In recent research, CFOs identified the most important areas the business will expect support by 2020 as ‘commercial business opportunities’ (32%), ‘efficient time management and higher work volume’ (23%), and ‘internal and external stakeholder communication’ (20%).
Keeping your skills current for the future, and showing your personal motivation to do so, will help to show your manager that you are prepared and thinking about your future.
Recent Robert Half research reveals that, over the next five years, it will be ever more important for finance professionals to develop their soft skills, particularly in leadership (33%), communications skills (25%) and commercial acumen (21%).
The roles within the accountancy and finance profession are often expected to interact with a wide range of people, both inside and outside their organisation. Strategies for growing your abilities include taking a public speaking course and volunteering to take the lead on an important project.
Getting to the next level in your career can be easier with advice from someone who is already there. Before identifying a mentor, however, make sure you are clear about what your professional goals are and what you hope to gain from the relationship.
These factors will determine whom you tap on for assistance. For example, if you hope to earn a promotion, you might look to a manager within your firm who has risen through the ranks.
While you can expect you to receive constructive feedback during your performance review or appraisal, there is nothing stopping you from asking for feedback when you feel it could be beneficial.
Sheridan adds: ‘Often asking for your colleagues’, manager’s and key stakeholders’ feedback directly after a project comes to an end means you can receive tailored, relevant feedback.
‘The most important point of all is to make sure that you act on the feedback you receive. Discuss the steps you are going to take to improve. Then demonstrate to the person who rated your performance how you are going to take it on board, in the spirit in which it was meant.’