When working as an IT Staff Analyst for a major insurance and investment company one of my duties included collecting budget data from several managers. The managers were often busy with meetings, which meant that I would approach leads to see if they could supply the information. The numbers I needed were operational in nature, which meant that most people in the department had access to them. However, when I asked the non-managers for assistance, in most cases I was told that I had to wait for the manager to provide it. They made it clear that since this item was not in their job description, they weren’t going to help me.
I understand that people are busy, and they have the right to tell me to go fly a kite. However, I know that top performers are going to do what is possible to provide the assistance that I need. In the example noted above, the information would take about 10 minutes to secure. Unfortunately, when the manager was busy, no one was available to help me.
Focus on Solving Problems
I once attended a professional development seminar, and the speaker made a comment that has stuck with me. He said, “The reason we’re hired to work in any company is to solve problems. If you want to increase the amount of money you earn, figure out a way to solve bigger problems.” While this advice is simple, it makes a ton of sense. In my first job out of college, I was hired at Shell Oil Company as a Revenue Accountant. I spent most of my data updating oil and gas lease accounts. The work was straightforward, and once I learned the process, I could do it in my sleep. Given that the problems I was solving could be handled by any other entry level worker, the pay was average.
My goal was to become a meaningful participant for the organizations where I worked. I knew that becoming a subject matter expert (SME) was going to make a big difference in the hourly rate I could charge. As I improved my skills, and solved higher level problems for my clients, the compensation improved. Of course, it’s important to know that big problems require a significant investment in time, and they carry more risk. By taking the lead in these situations, the person is going to be on the radar. It’s imperative that we find the best possible solution given the factors that are present.
Work is What Matters
I’ve had the opportunity to work with high-performers, and I find that they are focused on getting the work done. If someone approaches them for assistance, they will either take care of the request, or they will find the right person to resolve it. These individuals do not complain about the extra effort, as they know that meeting the requirements is essential, even if the issue is minor. The key point here is that company leaders know who are the take-charge people in the organization, and they will make sure to consider these individuals when advancement opportunities arise.