Getting Ahead at Work - Five Things To Move You Forward
The Monthly Meeting
The Bottom Line
Have you ever owned your own business? If you have, you'll understand that every penny going into overhead expense like salaries, desks, copiers, fax machines, supplies and equipment is money out of your pocket. If you ever owned a retail business, and I have, you will soon discover that everything costs money. From the fire extinguishers to the bags you'll need to package up the customer's purchases, it all comes out of your profit at the end of the day.
If you never owned a business then wasting those bags isn't much of an issue. Or is it? If you want to get ahead of the others at work who are content to punch in and stand around wasting time and supplies, you'll need to open your eyes to the realities of owning a business. Coming up with ways that will reduce cost in the workplace will set you apart from the ninety percent who just don't care. You'll see them wasting the paper towels, tossing out things that can be re-purposed or recycled and generally oblivious to the bottom line.
Making a Difference
How can you distinguish yourself? Begin by thinking of the business as your own. Take a moment to imagine you are the owner. How would you feel about employees on your payroll who spend their day making personal phone calls or playing games when there's work to be done? Would you hire more people like that? Would you give them a raise? Of course not.
The Bathtub Philosophy
Income is water coming in from the faucet with profits going down the drain. Expense is the leaks in the tub that need to be plugged to improve profitability.— Robert Allen
Reduce Unnecessary Expense
What could you do right now that would reduce the overhead expense where you work? For a moment, imagine that you'll be writing the check for the electric bill this month and that it's coming out of your paycheck.Would you leave the lights on in the stockroom where no one needs to go into for hours? Consider the water bill. Would you let the water run over in that bucket while you go outside for a break? It may not seem like a lot of money until it's your business.
To get ahead, you need to make it your business.
I worked as an executive secretary to a wealthy woman who was the president of three companies. In the previous year, her husband passed away. Following his departure, a couple of employees left the firm since their role in the business was not needed.
Beyond my assigned duties of answering the phone, sorting the bills, preparing invoices and payroll checks, I called the telephone company and asked about reducing the number of services not used but currently being billed. I discovered a way to cut the cost of the phone service by nearly half.
I presented a report detailing how much money this would save the company. They gave me a bonus of one hundred dollars for taking the initiative. This inspired me to look for more ways to cut the overhead and improve the bottom line. Key: The owner may not notice the things you do to reduce expense unless you make them aware of your actions to reduce cost.
The Confidence to Make Presentations
Is your boss willing to listen to your ideas to improve company profitability?
In some organizations, the company is willing to reimburse employees who take college courses whether they pertain to the industry or just lead to the completion of a college degree. When I worked for a bank many years ago they had a policy that for every banking class an employee successfully completed, they would get a small raise. One class at a time I was able to raise my own salary by attending class, opening a few books and reading some chapters on the legal aspects of my job.
"Educate yourself by communicating with those who can teach you the most."1
If a tuition reimbursement program is not available, seek out a higher paying job in your organization and volunteer for cross training. Offer to learn on your own time if necessary. People who are good at their job are often willing to share their secrets as to how it is done. Ask to become an apprentice to improve your skill level then offer to fill in during their breaks or vacations. When it comes time for them to retire or they get promoted, guess who will be next in line for that job.
Keeping Up with the Industry Standards
Study Your Chosen Industry
If I asked you to list the last five books you've read that relate to your chosen career what would those be? Unless you plan to become a vampire, reading the Twilight Series won't get you too far. You must be willing to study on your own time in order to get ahead.
When I was a corporate buyer for a global telecom corporation I studied the job openings that were posted on line for internal applicants. Although I held a degree and had a good paying job, I knew that to get further along in my career I would need more education.
That reminds me of another quote from America's foremost business philosopher, Jim Rohn, who said, "Don't be lazy in learning. It doesn't get more simple than that." 2
I decided that a job as a project manager sounded exactly like what I wanted to do and I went about finding out what it would take to apply for that job. A couple of interviews later, I discovered that in order to get that level in my industry, I would need to earn a Project Management Professional credential.
I signed up for the coursework and began the task of completing this daunting block of information, which I did. I was among the first at my company to sit for and pass the Project Management Professional certification exam, a two hour test that was truly intimidating.
Project Management Blunders
Organize a Lunch and Learn Program
If you work in an organization where there is a standard lunch hour, here lies an opportunity for growth. Start your own "Lunch and Learn" program. Where I worked, there were several conference rooms that stood vacant during the lunch hour. I would book these conference rooms at least once a week inviting others to bring a bag lunch and get together with me.
Each week I sent out an email to my coworkers who'd expressed an interest in getting ahead and we would use this time to watch an educational movie, share a chapter from a book or listen to motivational tapes. These things are free at the library or at some companies, they will purchase material for educational purposes.
Through these meetings I learned an important fact about other people and commitment. First, that there were always those who wanted to come and who showed up regularly. Second, there were always those who said they wanted to attend but never made it.
This brings me to another quote from Mr. Rohn who said, "Some do and some don't."
What will you do to get ahead?
Five Ways to Make a Difference
- Help in controlling expense by thinking of the business as your own.
- Look for ways to reduce unnecessary expense.
- Educate yourself by learning from those in better paying positions.
- Study your chosen industry.
- Organize a Lunch and Learn Program to stay motivated.
Everybody's Working For The Weekend
- Doug Cox, Challenges of Success Seminar, Tampa, Florida
- Jim Rohn, "How To Have Your Best Year Ever", Seminar in Dallas, Texas
- Robert B. Allen, The Road To Wealth
© 2012 Peg Cole