How to Add Value at Work

Success means a lot of different things to different people, but I would put a safe bet on being valuable in what you do – whether that’s being great in your team, making money for your business, helping others, or some other value – being a large part of what success means to most of us.

Adding value has huge benefits. Not only the buzz of knowing you’re absolutely rocking it, but it may line you up nicely for a promotion, get you noticed by the right people or maybe win you an award at work. There’s a lot of pay off to working on your value.

You don’t have to just be a climber for this to be relevant to you. We all want to be good at our jobs (right?) Thriving in what we do greatly helps with job satisfaction, and even in less than perfect work situations, adding value can see you reap as much as you sow.

Here are five ways in which you can add value in your job.

One – Make Sure You’re Doing Your Own Job Well

Working at the company in my previous job was hard, and sometimes it was obvious that the directors had a lot of stress to deal with. When these times arose I would often ask my boss if there’s something I can do; take one of their tasks to lighten the load. She told me the best thing I can do for her is to do my job.

It was harsh, sure. But from her point of view, she employed me to do a set of tasks and when I do those tasks well, she has no need to worry.

When looking to add value, the first thing to do is look at your own work and make sure it’s of a high quality. Do people have to remind you to do tasks? Do people chase you? Are people coming to you pointing out silly mistakes? While no one is perfect, reducing how much other people have to get involved in what you’re doing helps make the workflow efficient and is the best thing you can do to add value.

Two – Use Your Initiative.

The biggest thing that will hold someone back from getting ahead is them waiting to be told what to do. If you’ve not got the confidence in your role to act without direction yet, then that’s totally fine – you’re good where you are. But for people who have the hang of what they’re doing on a daily basis, there will be times when you can see problems you can fix without having to ask for help.

To give you an example, I was recently working at an event where there was a new process being trialled for students speaking with academics. The flow wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, so I stepped up to work out how it could be done slightly better. With my input, the customers (visiting students) had a much better experience of the event and the academics felt much less stressed as I was managing the flow. My extra efforts were seen, reported back to my manager, who thanked me with the director in cc – meaning that my hard work is visible (it also means that I have a manager who is excellent at recognising good work; I am very grateful).

Of course, we shouldn’t be on the look out for opportunities like that purely because we want to be seen to do a good job. I didn’t step up so that my manager and director could be told about how awesome I am – I did it because I wanted the event to go well, and this difference in intention is very noticable.

Three – Find Solutions, Not Problems

I find that in work there are two types of people. The first type will stand and complain about stuff. They’ll spend an hour of their day in the kitchen complaining about people, tasks, projects. And then do nothing more. 

Then, there are people who will see the issues and come up with solutions. They see that so-and-so isn’t doing something correctly and instead of bitching in the kitchen about it, they help that person understand how to do it better.

It takes some real skill to change your mindset from seeing problems, to seeing solutions. But every time you catch yourself discussing what is going wrong, challenge yourself to suggest one thing to make it better as well. This change of mindset will help demonstrate that you are thinking as a whole team, not just as an individual.

This also goes for finding problems in colleagues’ ideas. I always say that the devil has enough advocades; when ideas are thrown out there we should find ways to build on them instead of tearing them down through faults. By building together, everyone feels more at home making contributions and you can actively help in creating that positive environment.

Four – Help Others

Look. Here’s the thing. We ladies are particularly bad at helping others. We have this scarcity mindset where we think that there’s only a few places at “the top” and so when we move up, we blow a big “fuck you” raspberry to those we leave behind. 

We need to stop this nonsense.

Helping others can be a million different things. It could be running a skill-share with your team. It could be mentoring a graduate in your company. It could even be saying yes to the request of helping someone else, even though you’re a busy person yourself.

It could EVEN be outside the office, volunteering to speak in your local school about your job, or offering to your local university to speak with students in a certain field. Or in a soup kitchen, or stacking shelves at the food bank.

Helping others not only gives you warm fuzzies, and helps you learn new skills (mentoring is damned hard, yo) but it also helps put things into perspective for you, whether it’s comparing yourself to someone more junior and appreciating how far you’ve come, or allowing a colleague to be vulnerable with you when they ask for help.

Strong people bring people up with them as they rise. They do not push people down so to appear to be getting ahead.

5 – Be Curious

What if you’re bossing your current job, being helpful, finding solutions and just being generally bad-ass? What if you don’t really know what you want to do next but you’re beginning to wonder what may be out there? 

One of my biggest regrets is that I quit my job at Sony as a Personal Assistant, because I knew I didn’t want to be a PA any longer. When I told my boss I was quitting, I told him so. 

He was surprised. “But, if you wanted to do something new, you could have shadowed people in the departments around us, until you find something that fits!”

I had totally overlooked the teams around me and the opportunity to quiz them about their roles.

Of course, in hindsight I know that I’m motivated by helping others succeed, and if I’d have stayed there longer working in financial services I may not have found this path. But who’s to say that in another universe there’s a Charlotte rocking it in shares and things like that?!

Find out the ins and outs of people around you, whether that’s in house or people around you. I really enjoyed the series on this blog where I interviewed friends about their jobs I found it so interesting, and I learnt about so many more jobs than I knew were available. (Find the series in the bar to the right). 

By understanding about what’s out there you may be able to edit your own job description to include new things that will allow you to grow and help your team further. Besides having a complete picture of a company only makes your position stronger as you have greater understanding.

Final thoughts

In this digital age we are all so thirsty for the next. The next pay rise, the next promotion, the next job, the next appreciation. But how many times can we say we really go above and beyond at work, and not just clock the hours like a zombie.

Adding value and creating a bigger impact doesn’t require a bigger workload. This isn’t me saying to work more, it’s me saying to find ways to work better. Most of the time it’s a mindset issue.

Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments if you have!

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