How You Can Create Value For Your Company
No matter which organization you come from or go to, you would always be told to ‘create value’ – but what does it really mean? As employees, we are expected to contribute to the growth or expansion of the company, it could be in terms of revenue, innovation, or expertise. We get the idea of what it means to be an asset to the company, but adding value is always easier said than done.
If you are struggling, here are a few practical ways to start creating or adding value to your bosses, colleagues or company as a whole.
1. Be a good listener
Whether you are a manager or just a colleague, one of the best things you can do is to be a good listener. Of course, as a manager, you have more of an obligation to put into action the complaints or interests you hear. For example, if your team is interested to grow in a specific skill set, you should inform your Talent Development personnel to organize training for them (or provide on-the-job learnings yourself). If you have subordinates informing you that they are at the brink of burning out, you should be more lenient with time-offs or allow them a day-off.
On the other hand, even just as a colleague, all you have to do is lend a listening ear. A lot of times, people just need to rant or vent. Offer to bring them out for lunch, maybe buy them ice cream. Be there for them and just listen.
Listening doesn’t necessarily mean you need to offer a solution, instead, just be an active listener! Here is how:
Intentionally provide your attention
- Put down your phone, ignore your work alerts for just a few minutes. Your friend needs to realize that someone actually cares for them.
Acknowledge their position
- Their situation might be trivial to you, but everyone copes with stress differently, so don’t belittle them by telling them that their emotions or experiences are not valid.
- Unless they asked for it, do not try to shove your opinions down – offer advice, but do not push them into doing anything they are not ready for or uncomfortable with.
Reframe or recap the situation
- What would be helpful is to try to offer a different perspective (upon obtaining permission to do so) – try helping them see things from a different angle and help them realize that it might not be the end of the world after all.
2. Improve existing processes or create new ones
I am sure there is an existing process (or a lack of process) that frustrates us all. It could be having to manually fill in physical forms rather than electronically; or having to send in a budget request just to buy A4 paper. It could also be that meeting rooms are always double-booked. Whatever it may be, you can create value by suggesting a way to improve the workflow. Stop complaining, do something about it!
Here is a process or a few approaches you can consider:
Start by identifying the problem
- This might sound like an easy step, but it’s actually the most difficult (and crucial) one! This is because it’s important to identify the root cause of the problem – which can be more complicated – than just addressing the issue itself. From our previous example of budget requests, more than just giving out petty cash, there are documentation and auditing concerns when it comes to money.
Talk to the right stakeholders
- Let’s say you want to implement a more seamless budgeting process – who would you need buy-in from? Perhaps you need to start with the Finance department. Help them understand your struggle and also obtain insights as to why it may be difficult to introduce new processes.
Build a business case
- Once you’ve identified the root cause and obtained buy-in from relevant stakeholders, it is time to work on a business case together. Do your research and help decision-makers understand why you are introducing such changes. For example, having a petty cash system would allow your organization to work more efficiently, giving such autonomy and trust would also boost morale.
Roll it out well
- Now that you have been given the green light from top management, make sure you communicate the changes. Your effort to obtain buy-in would go to waste if no one ends up practising your new processes.
3. Predict needs before they are needed
If you watched Suits, the best embodiment of predicting needs is Donna. Because she knew how to predict and attend to the needs of her bosses, she managed to position herself strategically and gained the trust of upper management in the law firm. She may just be a secretary, but she possessed a huge influence over important decision-makers.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t have it all figured it out or are unable to predict everyone’s needs from the get-go. It’s a craft that takes years to perfect (it requires a lot of effort, too). However, here are some practical steps to get you going:
Take note of basic needs
- It may just be simple things like identifying your boss’s preferred coffee flavour or eating habits. Humans are creatures of routines. If you observe enough, you will definitely be able to spot some patterns and attend to them accordingly.
Analyze the variables and consequences
- Perhaps when your manager misses their morning jog, they are in a crankier mood than usual; or, maybe after certain types of meetings, they are more approachable. When you are able to identify these variables, you would also be able to prevent certain negative emotions (such as scheduling a wake-up call while on business trips to ensure they wake up for their morning routines).
Have the end in mind
- In Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit 2 is ‘begin with the end in mind’. In a game of football, you know which side of the goal-post you’re supposed to kick the ball towards. If not, you would just end up in the wrong direction and score a goal for the opposing team. Whether it is a task or long-term project, it is important to establish goals and a direction. Once you understand the target you are working towards, it is just a matter of reaching the finish line in the most efficient way possible.
When I was interning, I was told to continuously improve – both myself and the processes or world around me. I hold this amazing advice close to my heart and know that this growth mindset is what sets me apart. There is no doubt that creating or adding value is often a tedious, tough, and complicated process. But if you don’t take the first step to make a change, then your role or organization might just end up obsolete one day.
Don’t be afraid of challenging the status quo. Instead, do your best to push for the workplace you want to see.