Almost a year ago, Thomas Friedman published his article Need A Job? Invent It in the NY Times. At the time it was published, I followed the comments and was surprised at the deep revulsion to Friedman’s main ideas. Whether you love it or hate it, the truth is that lateral moves within organizations and job reclassification are far more common today than the linear upward mobility that everyone seems to crave. Taking that into consideration, Friedman isn’t so far off the mark, and I’ve seen this phenomenon happen with great results in the case of Eli.
Eli had been working for several years doing various operations and HR functions, but it was a small company so it wasn’t as though there was a progression plan. Rather than jump ship, Eli got smart. He observed the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and wrote a report for the senior leaders with recommendations that he felt would make them more efficient and profitable. They took notice, and began listening when he made suggestions, and they started seeking out his opinion more often.
Next, Eli identified more gaps in operations. Again he went to senior management, pointing out holes in operating procedures and identifying how they could solve the problems. This time he volunteered to take on those responsibilities if the company would send him for the necessary training. They agreed, and his duties expanded, though he still had all of his original responsibilities as well.
Once again, Eli analyzed company processes, but this time he focused a bit more on himself. He pointed out gaps, inefficiencies and where money was wasted but positioned himself front and center as part of the solution. He was able to document how he had already been able to save them money and improve operations. This time, he requested a job reclassification as part of his solution. After reviewing the proposal and his track record with the company, the senior leaders agreed and created the role that Eli wanted all along.
Want to be like Eli? Then follow his lead:
Demonstrate your value: if you only go to your manager to point out things that are broken, or ask for something you want, then you aren’t increasing your value to the organization. Don’t bring problems, bring solutions. Make suggestions that help the organization reach their goals. It will help you build your reputation.
Step up: want more responsibility? See something that needs fixing? If it requires permission, seek it out. If you can fix it on your own, then do it and report back to your manager on the results. Volunteering yourself for opportunities will help you to expand your influence, skill set, and expertise.
Prove it: Numbers, studies, and other forms of evidence help you to build a stronger case for having your job reevaluated. It isn’t enough to want it, or think you deserve it; you have to demonstrate your worth as well as the value to the organization. Put it in writing, and focus on the benefit to your employer if you want them to undertake this process.
My congratulations to Eli, and to all of you who have redefined your jobs. Work is what you make of it, so create your own opportunities rather than waiting for someone to offer them to you.
Questions? Comments? I love them all! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation on LinkedIn.