Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have moved up the corporate ladder and held some great positions. It was not always easy and trust me there have been some substantial setbacks along the way (those are for another blog post), but overall I feel that I have been successful in what I’ve done. I haven’t necessarily liked every job I’ve had, but I’ve always tried to be successful regardless of the situation. I have mostly worked in corporate settings (i.e. working for a company), but I have also owned a few businesses along the way and I consider myself to lean more towards being the entrepreneurial type. Although owning your business and working for someone else could be very different working environments, a lot of the same key basic principles apply.
Early on in my career, I stumbled upon something that I feel has helped me in all of my roles. During my first job, I was working on a high profile service for the phone company, which provided Toll-free telephone service across the country. Without getting into very boring details, there was a deficiency in the system that caused some grief to anyone that supported it, but everyone who worked on the system just learned to live with it. Multiple times a day, a file needed to be removed from the system and sent to the accounting department. It was dumb – very dumb. I was new to the seasoned employees saw an opportunity to offload this work to me. After a couple of weeks, I saw what they were talking about and since I had a fresh outlook on the situation, I came up with a VERY simple solution which would basically automate the task. I was kind of surprised it hadn’t been done yet, but nonetheless, I figured it would help everyone. I booked a meeting with my manager to discuss before implementing any changes.
After the first 5 minutes with my manager, his response was simple – “Thank you!”. I didn’t really understand what he meant, I hadn’t even finished explaining what I wanted to do.
I smiled in a curious way, not entirely sure if he was being sarcastic or genuinely thanking me.
He continued, “We have over 20 people working on this system. All I hear are complaints about doing this particular task. Nobody wanted to do it. You came in and presented me a solution, not a problem – not a complaint!”
I thought I was kind of complaining about it, but I quickly understood his point. I presented the problem but proposed a way to fix it.
As I’ve moved through my career, I have held onto this lesson tightly and I feel that it has served me well. I have also used it as teaching moments for my employees.
I have also learned that not all solutions work out or are actioned upon. There may be reasons or factors that prevent your proposal from being accepted, but that’s OK – don’t take it personally.
There are problems everywhere you look, that’s not the hard part of your job. Finding problems is not normally what people are paid for. Figuring out novel ways of solving them (or coming up with a plan of how to approach them) is what most organizations value.
Maintaining a positive attitude and fighting the urge to feel like it’s useless to try and change anything will help you not only help you enjoy your workday but will allow you to shine to the people who make decisions. Managers love positive employees that are able to solve issues without much handholding. Those are also the types of employees that are given bigger and better opportunities.
These traits will help you in other aspects of life as well and as an individual, it will allow you to grow, something that we should never stop doing.
I hope this little piece of insight helps you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.