There's more to this than just making sure you turn up to your next meeting on time. It's necessary to form lasting habits to ensure that 'reliable' is something you are, rather than something you aspire to. To achieve this, make sure you get the basics right.
Always capture information accurately in meetings, phone calls, or as and when things occur to you. Then be sure to follow up on your notes in a timely manner.
Establish a consistent place and process for ensuring you check your outstanding actions. People judge you (consciously or otherwise) on what you do, not on what you say you will do. Capturing information is the first step to ensuring you reliably deliver on your commitments.
You're more astute than you think you are. Being the one who can most-quickly digest and comprehend complex concepts, will give you a distinct advantage in the work place. You'll be able to act more quickly and be better informed if you understand how to distil simplicity from complexity, at will.
Start by breaking information down into categories or steps. Then ask yourself: "If I had to express this concept (or product, problem, service) on one page, what would it look like?”
There are some great tools available to help you with this, from mind mapping software to thinking techniques (such as force field analysis, five-whys and Pareto analysis).
Remember, mastering complexity works both ways. Not only is it advantageous to be able to untangle intricate information, it's also a sought-after skill to be able to communicate complex concepts succinctly. Colleagues from anywhere up and down your organisational tree will revere you for this.
Generate great ideas
The most successful organisations over time, are those that embrace the innovation habit - and innovation stems from ideas. If the leadership function in your organisation has created a mandate for you to step forward with ideas, then great. If not, that's no reason to remain silent; a genuinely good idea will get their attention.
You should also acknowledge that any function in an organisation can and should be innovative; it's not just the design or marketing department’s responsibility. Get started by:
- Learning how to mind map
- Challenging existing assumptions
- Viewing your team’s or company's products or services from a different perspective.
Automate repetitive tasks and processes
Every day you work with the same software, using the same limited subset of its features. How much do you really know about what it can do? What if you learned a little bit more about your word processing or e-mail packages? You'd be amazed at what you can achieve.
For example, each time you receive an e-mail, (aside from the messages you delete), you ultimately make a decision about how to file or categorise it. In most cases, that means manually moving it to a folder, which in turn means going through the same thought process you went through the last time you received a similar e-mail. In doing this, you're not just wasting time, you're probably also making inconsistent decisions, so when you look in that folder, it doesn't tell you the full story. Instead, set up a handful of mail rules - you can probably automate the filing or categorisation of the vast majority of e-mail this way.
Other examples include using document templates, e-mail templates and going beyond 'bold, italic, and underline' in your office productivity tools. This kind of mastery will get you known as a slick operator with quick turnaround times and high-quality output.
Share and collaborate
In a competitive workplace, you can go one of two ways.
1: You can fiercely hoard and defend your own knowledge and position, making yourself apparently indispensable (but unwittingly making a rod for your own back).
2: You can artfully demonstrate what it really means to be a 'team player', winning the adoration of peers and genuinely creating a situation whereby your contribution is noticed and understood on a daily basis.
If your organisation does not have a collaboration platform that everyone recognises as such, then start by becoming the self-appointed 'collaboration champion'.
Yes, really. At the very least, you and your team should be sharing information and documents centrally (how long does it take an attachment to become the out of date version via e-mail?).
Better still, you should be sharing informal information, discussions, blogs, bookmarks, project progress and status updates via a central system. Social collaboration for business has moved away from the stigma of Facebook and LinkedIn and deserves recognition as a value-adding business tool.
Are you up to the task?
Systems such as Jive, Podio, Yammer or IBM Connections should form a key part of your research list.
Do you enjoy your working environment?
Finally, make work enjoyable. There are many ways to do this, but you could do worse than using engaging and attractive tools.
Do you enjoy the look and feel of your software, pens and stationery or work environment? One of the key reasons that people are drawn to mind mapping, is that it makes the mundane interesting, tactile, inspirational and simple.
In summary, remember these tips; act on them and get ahead, by finding a brighter way of working.
- Be reliable
- Conquer complexity
- Generate fresh ideas
- Automate repetitive processes
- Share and collaborate