At the beginning of every year, we all get charged up and come up with goals we want to accomplish that year. There is nothing wrong with having lofty goals. The problem only arises when you don’t have a concrete plan to execute them. If you don’t spend the time to work out a plan to achieve your goals, they will soon turn into wishes. In order to accomplish your goals, you need a workable plan and an unwavering commitment to follow through on your plan.
An average American spends near 40-50 hours every week at work. H
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1. Identify the gaps in your skillset
If you have been eyeing that promotion but haven’t been able to secure it, this can be the best time to put a plan together and execute it. It can be very frustrating when you are already doing an excellent job in your current position but still haven’t been considered for a promotion.
A lot of times, you don’t get the promotion you are eyeing for, not because you are bad at your current role, but you don’t have some key skills required for the new role. Always remember that a promotion typically involves increased responsibility and requires additional skills to succeed in that role. If you wish to get that promotion in 2019, you need to identify those skills, prioritize them based on their criticality and come up with a plan to acquire those skills.
- If there is an online course or certification that can help you acquire a skill, enroll for it. It not only helps you in your current role but also can help you become more valuable in the marketplace. It can be one of the best investments you’ll make in 2019
. Attendmeets up in your local area that focuses on the skills you wish to acquire. These can be an excellent opportunity to network with peers in your community and can open doors for future opportunities. Attending meetups can help you identify the resources others are using to acquire the skills you lack and can help you avoid re-inventing the wheel.
2. Don’t just identify problems, provide a solution
We have all been on teams where people just report problems or issues and there is no real effort to solve them. The reasons for not solving can range from lack of bandwidth to lack of skillset. This year, I invite you to change things around. Instead of merely being a messenger who breaks the bad news, become a problem solver.
If you are a team lead or a manager, and you have team members always walk up to you and dump their problems on your desk and go back, how would you feel? Pretty awful right. As a manager, you’d definitely not think very highly of them. You want problem solvers on your team and not merely problem reporters!
So the next time you run into a problem, avoid the temptation to walk up to your manager or team lead and deliver the bad news. Instead, spend some time researching possible solutions and arrive at several options to solve them. Once you have a few solutions, share them with your manager and arrive at a final solution.
- Identify one problem area in your project and volunteer to fix it. Research the problem and possible solutions to fix it. Identify the impact your solution would have on your project. It will help you substantiate the efforts you’ll put in to fix the problem and prove to the team how much value addition this fix would bring in.
- I mentioned earlier about being a problem solver. This is a bonus tip. Everytime you stop by at your manager’s desk to explain the solutions you have for a problem, don’t just list the choices. Make it a point to share the solutions with pros and cons of each approach and pick one solution which you think is the best. If you receive some feedback from your manager, pay close attention to the “why” a particular solution was accepted or rejected. It will help you understand how to arrive at a solution better. Use this next time to improvise your solution.
3. Expand your visibility
Whether you work in a small company or a large multi-national corporation it’s very important to market your work to your supervisor. Unless you work a manager who is a “unicorn”, who has your back, you are pretty much on your own. Remember that no one can represent you better than yourself. In 2019, I invite you to look for ways to expand your visibility in the organization. This is one of the best ways to open doors for yourselves and let others know of your skills.
- If your company offers events like a Hackathon or you have a conference that you attend to represent your team or product, volunteer for it. It can be as simple as manning your company booth for a few hours and answering questions of people who are at the booth. It can be an excellent opportunity for you to work with other team members from different departments and you can learn a lot about how your product is used by others in the industry.
- If you are passionate about an area of work, explore the opportunity to submit an entry for a tech talk at a conference or a local meet up. This can be an excellent way to get noticed in the community and can also help you gain visibility within the company. Attending a conference can help you can make a lot of connections that you can leverage later on in your career.
4. Differentiate yourself with a wow factor
When I used to work for a leading consumer electronics company, one of my immediate managers used to say, “You know the difference between good and excellent? It’s the last 5% you put in after your done completing a task.” The secret sauce that most extraordinary performers add to their work is that extra 5%.
Have you ever been to a hotel or a restaurant and have been floored by the customer service? The room staff or the waiter did something very small but thoughtful that made you feel wow. I am talking about that small gesture. That 5% extra that you put in at the end will make a world of difference between you and others in your team. Leave a mark of yourself in everything you deliver. Go over and above what is asked and wow your team.
- Pick up your current assignment and look at all the ways in which you can bring in a wow factor to it. For e.g., If you are delivering a piece of code, look at how you can improve your design documents and add test cases to cover all the different uses cases. Also look at how you can document any APIs you are going to deliver so that anyone who comes across your work feels “wow!”
- Just before you are done delivering your work, visit it one more time, to self-review it. If your work involves peer reviews or your team lead’s review, anticipate what kind of comments you might receive and fix them. It might not possible to identify all of them but you can make an educated guess and fix them in advance. This shows how meticulous you are in your deliverable and your attention to detail.
5. Under-promise over deliver
One of the common ways people disappoint themselves and those around them is when they over commit on their deliverable. When you chew more than you can bite, you are bound to fail. I have done this myself early in my career and have since then learned from my mistakes. If there is any time you need to curb your enthusiasm and not over promise, it’s got to be now.
This might seem exactly opposite to what I just listed above where I have asked to go out of your way to deliver, but trust me on this. I am not asking you to deliver anything short of what you are capable of. But I want you to do it in a way that makes it appear you over delivered. I am not asking you to cheat. All I am saying is to curb your enthusiasm a bit and under promise.
E.g. If you know you can finish the project in 6 weeks, agree to do it in 7-8 weeks and deliver more than what you promised at the end of 7th or 8th week. You will still deliver at the said time, but with more than what the client asked you do. It always works!
- Add some buffer into your estimates on all your deliverable. Go back and identify that “additional” thing you’ll deliver within that time. This will leave a positive impression of you in the minds of your customers.
- If you find yourself with customers who are tight on budget, it might be worthwhile to look at ways to deliver same or superior results while actively looking at getting the work done within the budget. If you can save money for your clients with the work your deliver, you have under promised and over delivered. You not only saved money on the work you billed for but your deliverable also continues to save them more money. A happy and satisfied customer will always come back with more orders.
I hope these steps will help your make 2019 your best year ever for your career. All the best!