by Kemi Asika, Lead Consultant & Projects Team Lead at RS Hunter Limited, May 23, 2016
Just as we come across lucky breaks in our private lives, we are also presented with similar situations in the workplace however in many instances, we fail to recognise these opportunities for what they are.
To evaluate how open you are to workplace opportunities, ask yourself these questions:
- How do I respond to more responsibilities being added to my job schedule?
- What do I do and how do I feel when asked to take on tasks outside of my job description?
As we pursue our daily activities, it is important that we recognise the wealth of opportunities presented to us at work. While having to carry out a task that is not part of our primary assignment may appear to be a distraction from what we are engaged to do; such activities often enable us to learn new things and develop additional skills. Also, we must not forget that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” so the responsibility is on us to actively seek development opportunities and/or create them whenever possible. Below are a few tips on how you can better increase your ‘Opportunity Success Rate’:
1. Actively seek out new tasks: Don’t be content with what is assigned to you. Where possible request for new tasks. Yes, someone out there is saying “There just isn’t enough hours in the day to take on more than I already do.” But seeking out new tasks on your own demonstrates initiative. This is a much desirable attitude in every employee.
2. Broaden your horizon: Volunteer to work on projects outside your job function. This approach presents a number of benefits. Firstly, you learn the business of other departments/functions and their processes which gives you a better understanding of how various business processes impact on each other. Secondly, your knowledge of different functions within your organisation enables you appreciate the dynamics of the business as a whole. In such instances, not only does the company benefit from the employee having a better understanding of the business and being more productive, the employee is likely to develop new skills which will improve their career progression prospects.
3. Keep abreast of trends in your industry: Make sure you stay informed on developments within your industry. Gain a better understanding of the key driving factors and how they impact your company’s financial performance. Know what your company’s competitors are doing that your company is not. Understand what your clients’ desire to enable you proffer services that meet their needs. Gone are the days when having an understanding of the financial aspects of a business is reserved for management. Today, an employee who wishes to rise to executive management positions or better still run their own establishment must be well rounded.
4. Update skills and knowledge: Are you waiting for your learning & development unit to release the training calendar for the year before you improve your communication skills? Some of us already know our weak areas but are waiting for company sponsored-trainings to improve on them. Don’t wait to be told before you invest in yourself. Enquire about the professional certifications and/or degrees that are sought after in your industry and profession and put plans in place to obtain them while keeping up-to-date with new developments in your chosen profession.
5. Look for a mentor in-house: If your organisation is not running an in-house mentoring programme, you are encouraged to identify someone within your industry whose achievements you admire and who you believe will provide you with valuable guidance and support based on your chosen career path and identified development needs. This relationship which has equal benefits for the mentor will expose you to new ideas and ways of thinking as well as increase your visibility and recognition within the company as you develop your strengths, overcome your weaknesses and develop new skills and knowledge.
While opportunities abound for those who work hard, positioning is all about being in the right place at the right time so don’t be too hasty to take on additional responsibilities when you haven’t done the ground work that is required. If you have benefited from promotions despite poor performance in the past, make sure to plug the gaps first before you seek greater heights.
On a final note, don’t forget to periodically evaluate how often you are asked for your assistance by your subordinates, peers and supervisors. If the answer is ‘hardly ever’, then this post is definitely for you.