We all like to think we are considered valuable at work and that what we do is recognised as adding value to the end product or service. And of course, every role is created and exists because it is a needed function in order that the business can provide the product or service that our clients buy. To this extent your role is of value – but this doesn’t mean you are adding value to the role. And this is important, not just from a career progression perspective, but also for your own self esteem.

Don’t take my word for it, Abraham Maslow, whose model has been cited and built upon since 1943, recognised the important of self-esteem to the human psyche as part of his research into motivational theory.

We want to be valued and recognised for adding value, but how do we know whether we are just ticking our employer’s boxes or if we are genuinely creating value?

A critical question that will help you assess the value you really add is to ask if you truly know which elements of your role impact on your customers, your colleagues, and your supply partners and how they are impacted with your interactions?

Based on years of experience managing, coaching and developing large teams of people in cross functional organisations. I would venture to say that only approximately 15-20% of the workforce really have a clue how they impact others in the supply chain or what they supply chain has to do to fulfil their roles. Interestingly it is these 15-20% that are always the people you will see being promoted and taking the top jobs.

So, what do I mean by this and why is it a valid question? 

Let’s take the administrative functions within your organisation. What happens in the accounts department; the post room; on reception? Physically what do they do – not just top line, but step by step what happens in there? What challenges do they often face? What would make their job easier? Where does what you do fit in with this and what can you do in your role to contribute to easing their challenges? (I’m not asking you to change the world here or get involved in others changing what they do – rather what can you specifically and quietly do?) 

Apply the same questions to your external supply partners. 

Let’s take your customers (who may be internal). Where does what you do contribute to their ultimate experience? And then ask if you could improve an element of your service by just 1% what would you have to do? (and when you have done that – ask the same question again so that you are building a number of 1% incremental improvements). 

Let’s take the organisation and its overall goals. Aside even from your primary role, if you could contribute to 1% of each of the goals what would you have to do? And its critical here for you to move away from ‘its not my job syndrome’ because in this fast moving and competitive world, whilst we all have functions that we are employed to perform, we are all responsible for doing what’s needed to move our organisations forward. New business for example may not be your forte, but that should not stop you from being curious about the wider industry and looking for opportunities where your organisation could make a difference. Quite often one person spotting a market gap or opportunity will spark another finding a solution that another is able to pitch and win.

This not only makes you instantly accountable for being part of the total solution (and organisations are crying out for ‘accountable’ employees), but it also opens up the opportunity for innovation to take place. You see we can only offer innovative solutions when we have a full picture of the parts and how they link together.

I’m not suggesting for a second that you become a master interrogator or a manipulator to make yourself look good, but that you follow Ken Blanchard’s lead and adopt an attitude of genuine curiosity and service to others – an approach he calls human servership as opposed to human leadership. Trust me, you will reap the rewards, not just professionally (although this will surely follow) but personally with massively increased self-esteem and a renewed love and passion for what you do!

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