Extreme Job Makeover

Feature Article | March 23, 2012 by Susan Galer

The tools you need to improve your performance right away (Source: Fotolia)

As economic uncertainty lingers, employees and employers alike are searching for ways to optimize performance. Cloud-based human capital management applications make it easier for HR professionals and the people in their organizations to excel. Indeed, applications for people and talent management are a top priority for CEOs. Gartner expects human capital management products to reach U.S.$10 billion by 2015. Talent Management alone is expected to reach U.S.$4.5 billion – with 75% of available solutions expected to be cloud-based.

But not all of this is entirely new. Top performers have long known that their job responsibilities encompass much more than exceeding performance expectations. The best of the best are architects of their own jobs who develop the blueprint for what they do and how they get it done. In a continuous cycle of improvement, they hone the work they deliver, the skills they have, and the processes they use for precise alignment to their professional goals and the company’s expectations. The quest is at once intensely personal yet company grounded. The impact on success is always profound. However, what’s different now is the growing availability of tools to make everyone the chief architect of his or her own job. Here are ten ways to better your performance immediately.

1. Align your performance plan with company goals.

Studies show that 95% of employees don’t understand company goals and objectives. The trouble is the only way to execute on strategy is if the employee and company are in complete alignment. You may be talking with customers all day or embedded deep behind the scenes. Regardless of what you do, you have an important role in helping to achieve company objectives. It’s up to you to make the direct connection between your goals and the company’s. Only then can you showcase your impact on the business.

2. Have a plan and be ready to change it.

Objectives evolve over time and if you don’t stay in sync you’ll get left behind. Pay attention to what senior executives — not just your immediate managers — are saying. This applies throughout the year, not only at designated strategy sessions in January. Quarterly earnings, M&As, announcements, and events blare updates on where the company is headed and how it will get there.  Listen carefully and respond with corresponding adjustments in your priorities.

3.Stop wasting valuable time.

This may sound obvious but it’s easy to get sidetracked by seemingly urgent yet actually unimportant demands. Focus only on what really matters — to you and your company. For example, if you’re on the road, you can use mobile apps to stay connected. Real-time access allows you to quickly find experts company-wide, set agendas, schedule meetings, and follow up on tasks.

Next page: Numbers 4-10

4. Run with the right crowd.

Everyone knows loners can’t make it in today’s networked world. But are you collaborating with the right people? Continuously expand your contacts by locating and connecting with top performers beyond your familiar circle. This will accelerate your own onboarding and training as it keeps you connected to new experts over time.

5. Document, document, document.

Collaborative, cloud-based technologies are not just about connecting people. They are instrumental in sharing information with the right people company-wide. Set up a system to keep track of your agreed-upon objectives and measurements. Use all available tools to showcase your unique value to the company via examples with concrete results. Videos, articles, and other content posts function as a visual audit trail of your accomplishments. Your manager can see the work you’ve been doing as well as how many relationships you’ve established.

6. It’s your development plan. Take charge and don’t let go.

Schedule regular meetings with your manager to show that you understand changing company objectives. Use these conversations to refine your priorities accordingly.

7. Hold yourself accountable.

Don’t wait for your yearly review or even other regular meetings. Measure your outcomes against your KPIs. Be honest about how well you’re doing and where you may be struggling. Don’t hesitate to discard what’s not working so you can step up delivery on what’s most relevant.

8. Get it done more productively.

Your job isn’t just about completing the tasks listed in your performance plan with excellence. Expediency for faster outcomes is arguably one of the most powerful competitive advantages you can deliver to your company. Move beyond email and portals to online, mobile tools for immediate information sharing that saves time and eliminates redundancy. Your superior performance helps boost the company’s overall performance.

9. Look and plan ahead.

You and your company have a shared, vested interest in placing you in the right position. Like all great people, though, you need to have a succession plan so you can pursue new opportunities. Have an open discussion about your potential and where you’d like to go. Get the development support you need to stay a top performer. Push your manager to identify your replacement. And never forget, the broader your experience and wider your skill set, the more valuable you are to the company.

10. Have a real conversation with your manager.

Come prepared to performance reviews with your salary expectations backed up by proof points. Make sure colleagues inside and outside company walls provide feedback on your performance. Tell your manager what’s helped you, and also where you need more support to accomplish your goals. Walk away with renewed goals that reflect the company’s current goals.

Most of us are working harder and longer than ever. But good intentions, strong capabilities, and a great strategy aren’t enough. Everyone needs the processes, tools, and information to truly support the execution of company strategy. Make a conscious decision to be the architect of your job so you can create your better future.

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