The Fundamental Secret To Career Success
The two of us were standing in her kitchen, in her house, as she gets ready for her new job, post graduating college this past May.
The two of us, my daughter and me.
She got her first full-time job, the one she was dreaming of, 2 weeks prior to heading out of the country for a 5-week mission trip. These first two weeks she put her toe in the water of a full-time career job.
She is wondering what work will be like when she goes back tomorrow. For her, I want to give the eternal wisdom of working life all in one or two nuggets of advice.
As I am stirring the butter, garlic and onion on the stove, I smile inwardly. The earth-shattering, deal-breaking, you-will-be-set-for-life career advice that came to mind was so simple.
It is incredibly simple, written about copiously, looked for on resumes, yet failed at more than any other skill in the work world.
But, I knew as soon as it entered my mind, this was a fundamental secret to career success…in any career or business.
Communicate regularly, proactively, relevantly, responsively and timely.
As a small business coach, I realized that the single most requested help from my clients is what to say in a given situation or how to handle a certain communication.
As a small business owner, and in talking with small business owners, much of the concerns stem from some sort of lack of communication or miscommunication:
If I don’t follow-up, I never know if the responsibilities I delegate ever get accomplished, and many times, when I do follow-up they haven’t been accomplished.
I didn’t know if they took care of it, so I went ahead and did it.
The employee was surprised when I fired them, they said I never told them anything was wrong.
The examples are endless.
As my daughter embarks on her new job in marketing, I wanted her to know that if she just communicates, things will always be better than not communicating. Even if the news being communicated isn’t good news. Here are some of the situations I pointed out specifically.
- Respond when you receive a request or a communication of any kind. Sometimes just a simple, “I got it,” helps the sender know that their communication was received.
- Proactively communicate what your coworkers can expect. If someone makes a request, give them back a timeline or scope of work. Set their expectations up front and you will have a much easier time meeting their expectations.
- Give updates. Not everything is a ten-minute task. It is expected that many jobs or tasks will not be complete at the end of the day or before a weekend. Giving an update proactively, creates the true sense that you are on top of things, you have the responsibility covered, and this, again, is what they can expect.
- Give updates, even if it is bad news. People always respond better if you communicate problems as early as possible and set expectations back if there is going to be a delay. Even if it is a client, it is better to communicate rather than try in the background to fix issues and make up time. With clients or bosses, we don’t want to deliver bad news, but when the worst case scenario occurs and they were not expecting it, this is much worse.
- Communicate if something is going to be late. The worst is when you were promised something from a colleague or vendor and you realize the due date was several days ago. Not only did you not receive the deliverable, you haven’t heard from them. (As I typed this, I remembered a programming piece of a website project that was due to me from the vendor a couple of days ago. And…I haven’t even heard from them. Very frustrating.)
This is the quick list regarding tasks and responsibilities that have been delegated or assigned to you. There is a whole other realm of communication that is important if you are a small business owner or manager that has to do with communicating with employees. We will cover that on a separate post, but just know…if you are not sure…the best rule of thumb…always communicate.