A surefire way to invigorate your career, job, or job search is to think in terms of projects. Anything (ranging from a routine task to a once-in-a-lifetime career assignment), when treated as a project, can jump-start a stalled career or translate taken-for-granted activities into marketable skills.
Projects force you to think of your work in units. Projects have purposes, beginnings, and ends/results. By treating your work activities as projects, you can describe outcomes and determine effectiveness. You can tell how you or your team made or saved money, influenced customer satisfaction, reduced errors, or met deadlines and budgets. Knowing the impact of your work and understanding the impact of your contributions increases your satisfaction and your opportunities for advancement.
What’s Your Project Mentality?
To determine your project mentality, answer yes or no to each statement below:
1. I treat at least 50% of my work as projects.
2. I can describe one new project I’ve worked on in the last six months.
3. I know how I add value to a team project.
4. I am known by colleagues and friends for specific knowledge or skills.
5. I have turned a small, routine task into a project in the last year.
6. I seek opportunities to work on projects with my colleagues.
To score, add up the yeses:
6=Wow! Project Maniac; 5=Project focused; 3-4=Project minded;1-2= Getting in gear; 0=Wake up! Opportunities are whizzing by.
# 1-Carl sold supplemental Medicare insurance. His company expanded into small-town areas southeast of St. Louis, but they had no plan for developing this new territory. Carl found online information about the town (Chamber of Commerce info, census info, etc.) and and scouted it by car in order to create a plan for expanding into this new market.
He documented his strategy, tracked his results, fine-tuned his approach, wrote a summary of his work, graphing the outcomes of his efforts in number and kinds of policies sold and in sales revenues. His supervisor and colleagues were so impressed with his approach that they asked him to teach it to sales teams for other insurance products.
# 2-Lisa, an operations manager who felt underemployed and underpaid in her job, tried twice unsuccessfully for a promotion. On the advice of her career coach, she began treating some of her routine tasks as projects. Instead of just routinely submitting her monthly activity reports, she changed the format to include an executive summary that highlighted results in the form her boss respected: time and money saved, areas of greatest productivity, and even prospective new clients. This format caught her boss’s attention; seven months later Lisa was promoted.
# 3-Jackie, mother of two, had been out of the paid workforce for seven years. Now that her children were older she planned to get back to paid work, part-time. She believed she’d lost her skills. But after preparing a portfolio that highlighted her writing, event planning, and fundraising achievements (including leading a campaign to finance a choir trip to Ireland), Jackie felt confident enough to begin exploratory interviews.
The examples above show how three people applied a project approach to everyday tasks and got results. Imagine the greater impact of this mentality when applied consistently and in successive projects! How will you apply this principle in your work?
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Thriving in an Amazon World
Dinah Eng’s article about an interesting business that’s been in growth mode for some time is worth reading. Half Price Books’ growth, business model, leadership, economics, and business/social ethics are distinctive.
After reading about this business in Fortune magazine’s “How I Got Started” section of the Sept. 18 issue, I visited the newly-opened St. Louis store. There I received cash for the books and CDs I took in, and I explored the local version of this very intriguing company. It’s a great example of fresh thinking, good business practices, and operational sustainability. It’s worth a visit!
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Consider a CAP (Career Action Planning) Session if you:
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results.
In this 90-120-minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it.
For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the comment form on my website.