This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Excelling at your job

Amidst all the unemployment statistics, a Finweek piece today gives valuable tips on how to keep your job. Although has an edge of cynicism and when I'm reading it, makes me feel like I should walk on a tightrope around the office, it gives some valuable reminders on how to excel at my job: sometimes I forget this in the quest just to survive the day to day.

UNLESS YOU HAVE A JOB where your output is clearly measurable, you may wish to consider the guidance provided below. It would appear such measures - as ludicrous as some may seem - have been proved to work over the years. Donna Rosato, of Money Magazine suggests the following:
"It all starts with profiling. Does your boss's boss know who you are and what you do? If he doesn't, you may well be in trouble. It's no good if your immediate line manager or supervisor alone knows you're good. You have to make sure that at the uppermost echelons of the organisation the right people know your name (and game).
"Stephen Viscusi, author of Bulletproof your job: four simple strategies to ride out the tough times and come out on top at work, warns that 'the invisible guy is the first to go'.
"How do you raise your profile? Suggestions in Viscusi's book include: "face" time (arriving at the office a few minutes before everyone else and leaving a few minutes later) and making yourself noticed. You do that by making convincing statements and asking appropriate questions at meetings and other public arenas. Dressing more professionally. How about volunteering for those assignments nobody else wants?
"Then there's the question of money. You have to be making money. If you're not - and you happen to fall on the support side of the business - you need to be seen to be adding to the bottom line. Companies tend to cut jobs in support areas first. You need to be seen to be sharing leads or ideas to generate revenue.
"You need to network and you need to ensure you network with the right people: align yourself with those perceived to be top performers - those who have the boss's favour. Be careful about backing the wrong horse, because when his race is done, yours may very well be too. On the other hand, hanging out with the top performers may just leave you looking good, even if it's just by association. Some gurus don't agree: we'll leave it to you to decide the best course to follow."
Chris Kalaboukis, CEO of Advice Trader, a leading expert advice marketplace, suggests now's the time to be politically neutral. "If you ally yourself too closely with your boss, you could be in trouble if he goes. Be very aware of what's going on - but don't ally yourself with anyone," says Kalaboukis.
Most importantly, don't complain. Nobody likes people who complain all the time, especially when times are strained and profits are down. Rather be seen to be the one coming up with new, creative, cost-cutting ideas.
Kalaboukis agrees: "That's a sure job buster. Management is strung tight: stress is at an all-time high. Money is barely trickling in, if at all. Now isn't the time to complain. Bottle it all up and never say a single word to anyone at work - or anyone who knows anyone at work - no matter how unfair or wrong things are."
He cites the importance of wearing a mask when at work. "Smile, be happy and never give anyone a reason to ask: "What's wrong?' That, my friend, is the beginning of the end. You may as well get your resumé out."
You need to be seen to be going beyond the realms of responsibility for which you were hired and to position yourself as a "team player". The reality is employees worldwide are being expected to do more with less. You can choose to embrace it or complain about it: either way, you can't change the outcome - which is that you have to work harder. If you embrace it, you're more likely to remain on the team when the short straws are drawn.
However, Kalaboukis warns: "If you excel at your job you'll get noticed. Your co-workers will notice you're doing well and start talking to the boss about it. They'll gang up on you and try to take you down. Excellence makes you different and 'difference' is a negative. Don't be different - but don't let yourself slack off in any way either."
Last, but certainly, not least - be on time.

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