A 2012 Gallup study says that 70 percent of American workers are not reaching their full potential causing the U.S. to lose $450 to $550 billion (with a “b”) each year in lost productivity.
If you are in the 70 percent, you are working for a company not reaching its profit potential. This company will very likely look at downsizing or layoffs to lower expenses and therefore enhance profit. And when this happens, they will look at the 70 percent of their workers who are not reaching their full potential to cut.
So what can you do about this to enhance your position and move into the top 30 percent? Here are a few steps to follow that will help you stand out in a positive way:
Understand your strengths and/or talents. If you need to, get professional input to be sure you know exactly what they are. Talk to your boss about them to be sure he/she knows.
Work with your boss so that he/she knows your strengths and/or talents and gives you responsibilities that allows you to do your best work.
Continue to learn more about your company and what it is trying to accomplish so you can add your part.
Also, continue to learn more about your job and your strengths and talents so you can do even better work.
Network well within your profession to enable yourself to be aware of the latest thinking and technology in your field.
Keep yourself in good physical shape for you to maximize the potential to have the energy to do your best.
Support what your company is trying to do at all times, be committed to its goals and communicate them to others.
Commit yourself to an unrelenting quest to make yourself better at what you do.
If you do these things you make yourself better at what you do and therefore better at contributing to the company’s success. And, you will own yourself and your future.
But if you are stuck, or your immediate boss does not want to help, or sees you as a threat, keep on doing the things that will make you better anyway. This may not guard you from being downsized or laid off, but it does guarantee you will be better at what you do for your next position whether at your current company, another one, or your own.
In my book, The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business, I share the lessons learned along the path of my 56-year business career. The purpose is not just to tell my story, but really to help readers learn from my successes and mistakes. Many lessons are rooted in my dealings with business professionals and public servants, all of whom helped to shape these lessons, and ultimately, this book.
Some lessons are way more important than others. Here are the ones I consider to be the most important.
Be honest. Honesty will make you a better person and professional.
Listen. When you are talking, you are not learning anything. So, listen! Listen to family, associates, clients or business partners and advisors. Once you do, you are better able to make decisions that include all their input.
Respect everyone and everything. If you do, there will be a better chance of others respecting you. If you do not, you will not get much if any cooperation.
It can be done. Most things can be done. Find a way. Do not give up.
Work smarter as well as harder. We have all known people who worked 12 hours and got eight hours’ worth of work done. A smarter way is to work eight hours and get 12 hours’ worth instead. How? Prioritize. Do what is important first. By prioritizing, you will find some of the least important tasks fall off your “to-do list” before you do them.
Teamwork.Any two of us is smarter than any one of us. Use the team you have to get more done all the time. This helps the product as well as your teammates to be better. If you must operate alone, work smarter as well as harder.
Continue to learn. You need to be a student your entire life. Make yourself a better person each day through constant learning. You will be amazed at how this improves your efforts over time.
Constantly learn to recreate yourself. If you are not doing this as a person or business, you will be passed by. Also, continuously recreating yourself and learning new things go hand in hand.
The book includes more detailed lists of lessons I learned, ones focused on career and business. I encourage you to read, adopt and share them when the book goes on sale this coming June on Amazon.