Why Sell Yourself Short? Position the Business Value of Your Work

success
March 12, 2010

Performance improvement begins with business goals. What are the strategic priorities of the organization? How do the tasks I perform in my job role help to satisfy those strategic priorities? Perhaps, we don’t ask ourselves these questions every day. So, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When we do, the business value of our performance becomes less of a focus. I was reminded of that when I met with a former student of mine earlier this week.

I met with this student so that we could review her resume and discuss her career aspirations. She is now in her junior year in college. As we discussed the tasks she had listed under various job titles, I noticed that she began to look more and more chagrined.

“At this job, I only filed patients’ claims,” she said. “It really doesn’t seem like much. I doubt a future employer would be impressed by this work.”

Now, think about it. What would you say to this student? Would you say, “No, no, don’t think that way. It’s very important work.” Well, I did. And you know what? It’s the truth. The tasks she performed helped her employer satisfy a business goal. While the work might have seemed mundane, it was vital to the success of the business. I told her so.

“I never thought of it that way,” she said.

Widening her perspective helped her to see the relevance and importance of her contributions. It also gave her the confidence to position her work for this employer as being significant and noteworthy. Suddenly, “Filed patients’ claims in accordance with legal statutes” took on greater meaning and purpose.

The lessons I took away from this conversation are two fold. First, we tend to regard our everyday work rather myopically. Who’s to blame us? Deadlines have a way of keeping us focused on the task at hand, rather than the larger business benefits of our hard work. And second, we need to remember that in order to position ourselves effectively – say, in a conversation with our superiors at work – it’s important to lead with those business benefits of our hard work.

I can hear the conversation now… “I saved the company over a million dollars by effectively filing patients’ claims in accordance with legal statutes.” Now, that type of performance will get any manager’s attention.

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