Ob­serve, lis­ten and add value at your work­place

New Straits Times - - Business - SHANKAR R. SANTHIRAM

WHAT do we get paid for at work? Quite sim­ply, for our skills and knowl­edge.

Pick any num­ber for a monthly salary — RM3,000, RM5,000 or RM10,000. The amount you get paid is di­rectly pro­por­tion­ate to the per­ceived value of your skills and knowl­edge. Con­se­quently, if you want more money, in­crease your value. It is a fairly rudi­men­tary for­mula. But like most things in life, the sim­plest for­mu­las are of­ten the most ef­fec­tive.

And re­mind your­self that you be­come valu­able only when you add value.

It is ex­pected that you do what is listed in your job de­scrip­tion and that you meet your key re­sult ar­eas. This is very im­por­tant for you to get right. But what you do over and be­yond what is ex­pected, those are the value-added con­tri­bu­tions that will bring you ex­cep­tional per­sonal re­sults.

When your value-added con­tri­bu­tions pro­duce quan­tifi­able re­sults for your com­pany, help make a bet­ter work­place and add to prof­itabil­ity or long-term sus­tain­abil­ity; you in­crease your per­sonal value. And you be­come mo­ti­vated when you be­come valu­able.

To value add, be­gin by ob­serv­ing and lis­ten­ing.

When you take the time to ob­serve and lis­ten to your sur­round­ings and in­ter­ac­tions, you will learn a great deal about the com­pany you work for, the peo­ple you work with, as well as your­self.

Your ob­ser­va­tions will help you fo­cus on what you need to do to fur­ther en­hance, re-learn and de­velop pro­fes­sion­ally. All my suc­cesses as an ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship coach only came af­ter I learnt the art of ob­serv­ing and lis­ten­ing.

Ob­serve and lis­ten to how your bosses re­act and re­spond to var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions. Through these ob­ser­va­tions you will be able to de­ter­mine how best to ap­proach them, when best to ap­proach them, and pre­dict some of the out­comes of your in­ter­ac­tions, that will in turn help you fur­ther your cause.

Lis­ten with the in­ten­tion to un­der­stand. Lis­ten with­out the need to in­flu­ence or show them how smart you are. Ask clar­i­fy­ing ques­tions with the aim of learn­ing.

Why? Be­cause when you lis­ten with­out pre­con­ceived no­tions, it is more likely that you will ac­tu­ally “hear” what they are say­ing. If you learn this art, you will find your­self equipped with a use­ful body of knowl­edge that will make you “pro­motable”.

In­vest time to read and gather new in­for­ma­tion. The ac­qui­si­tion of knowl­edge has never been eas­ier. The mul­ti­tude of re­sources that we have at a click of a but­ton need to be put to good use.

Pick books, mag­a­zines, on­line re­sources and so on, which res­onate with your needs at the work­place. Read to learn, and learn to ap­ply.

Re­mem­ber that knowl­edge is not power; ap­plied knowl­edge is.

Next, choose a role model and choose wisely. Model your­self on peo­ple who will help you be­come the best ver­sion of your­self.

The best way to do this is to first iden­tify the neg­a­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics that you have, that you want to erad­i­cate. List them down and be clear why you don’t want these habits.

Next, iden­tify what pos­i­tive traits you would like to in­cul­cate. Again, list them down and once more, be clear why you want these habits. Now, iden­tify some­one who has these qual­i­ties, and use them as a role model.

You are on your way to­wards adding value be­cause when you em­u­late them, you are likely to achieve the re­sults they get.

When I travel around the world, the thing that as­tounds me most is when I see a per­son who does a seem­ingly sim­ple job but takes im­mense pride in what they do.

Be it the pub­lic bus driver in Perth, Aus­tralia, who is im­mac­u­lately dressed in a short-sleeved shirt, short pants, but sports a spiff­ing tie; or the briyani ven­dor in Chen­nai, In­dia, who pre­pares his rice and chicken dish at a busy street-side in­ter­sec­tion but with the in­ten­sity of a three-Miche­lin star chef; I learn how to add value from such peo­ple, be­cause they show me how they truly care about what they do.

Your work will be av­er­age at best if you don’t re­ally care about the out­come. The goals that you set for your­self will only be met if you care about the out­come. Sim­i­larly, your work will only pro­duce real re­sults if you are con­nected with the out­come.

When you con­nect with the re­al­ity that your work sup­ports your life­style goals, and the per­sonal growth you want is fu­elled by the work that you do, then it be­comes eas­ier for you to care about what you do.

I love the free­dom I have: the free­dom to travel, the free­dom to en­joy some of the finer things in life, and the free­dom from debt. I also recog­nise and con­nect with the fact this free­dom comes only if I care about my work. My vo­ca­tion pays for my free­dom.

You must re­alise that life is a se­ries of trade­offs.

The key is to cre­ate and de­liver as much value as you can. And for that you must care im­mensely about what you do.

As you do this con­sis­tently, your mo­ti­va­tion will be sus­tained.

When you take the time to ob­serve and lis­ten to your sur­round­ings and in­ter­ac­tions, you will learn a great deal about the com­pany you work for, the peo­ple you work with, as well as your­self.

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