‘Solve This’ #1 – How to Get into the Flow of Better Work
post # 239 — November 14, 2006 — a Careers post
In a previous blog post discussion on avoiding negativity, it was suggested we start a series of posts called â€œSolve Thisâ€ where we invite everyone reading this to pitch in and offer real-world, practical advice to solve a particular situation.
Hereâ€™s one to get us started.
In the â€œAre You Having Fun Yetâ€ chapter of my book TRUE PROFESSIONALISM I reported on a survey I have done for more than twenty years around the world. I ask people what percent of their work they would put in the â€œI love thisâ€ category versus â€œItâ€™s OK Itâ€™s what I do for a living. It doesnâ€™t excite me.â€ Thereâ€™s also a third category called â€œI hate this part of my work life.â€
I also ask people what percent of their clients they would put in the category â€œI REALLY like these people I serve and find their sector fascinatingâ€ (as opposed to: “Itâ€™s OK, I can tolerate them.â€) The third category here is â€œBy my taste, theyâ€™re idiots in boring businesses.â€
The â€œtypicalâ€ answers I am given (by people at all levels) are about 20-30% for â€œI love thisâ€ work, 60% for â€œcan tolerate itâ€ and 10-20% for â€œitâ€™s junk.â€ On the client questions, typical numbers are 10-60-30. (Iâ€™m not making this up. By and large, people donâ€™t REALLY like those they serve, bosses or clients.)
My message has always been that these are depressingly low numbers – I don’t want to spend the majority of my life doing tolerable stuff for tolerable people just because they pay me. I’m going to work to change that!
One young person wrote in to ask: â€œPeople will wonder what your message is if they really cannot find favorable numbers where they currently work, or at least on the tasks they are currently assigned to. Can someone in a junior position influence the flow of tasks that he / she is assigned so as to increase the proportion that is stimulating? What can a junior person do?â€
Some obvious first thoughts:
- Build RELATIONSHIPS WITH POWER PLAYERS who can get you in the flow of work you would prefer to what you are doing now? (Go be helpful to someone.)
- VOLUNTEER for challenging activities so you can say â€œNo, sorry, Iâ€™m too busy, when the bad assignments come along?â€
- PROPOSE and INITIATE suggestions for innovative projects that will get you assigned to things you would like to do?
- TALK to those who are currently doing the work you aiming for in order to find out if it truly is as satisfying as you think it is?
- Talk with OTHER STAFF MEMBERS in your firm, to find out which senior people you can learn from and which ones will just exploit you and dump you?
- Go get friendly with CLIENT PERSONNEL. Any client intelligence you can pick up and bring back will mark you out as a go-getter, and it mike lead to more work for your organization.
Alright, everybody, weâ€™ve all been juniors in an organization at one time or another, so letâ€™s help. How do you get more of the interesting work and avoid getting stuck on the dull stuff? Whatâ€™s YOUR top 3, 4, or 5 suggestions to an individual at the lower levels of an organization that would help him / her bring about a better future for him / herself?
Your list is pretty comprehensive from my experience. I would opine that your last bullet, getting to know client personnel better, is the most fertile area for exploration/leverage. It gives you better insight into how your firm can better serve the client, and how you can help your superiors personally become more valuable to the client (the ticket to bullet number one, which opens up opportunities to volunteer for interesting new things).
The other thing you can always do is find the challenge in the stuff you don’t like. There’s probably a better way to do it or a way to eliminate the drudgery if you spend time ON the process instead of IN the process.
posted on November 14, 2006