Shontarius D. Aikens, Ph.D., AssistantProfessor of Management at Offutt Schoolof Business at Concordia College
Have you ever stopped to think about the value you bring to an organization? From a career development perspective, I believe this is an important question to ponder and reflect on from time to time. And what better time to do this than now as one begins to start setting goals for the future.:
For this month’s article, I’d like to share with you a framework to help managers think about their existing value to an organization and to begin the process to determine ways to increase that value. From my perspective, one’s value to an organization is so much more than the level of effectiveness and efficiency in completing one’s individual tasks. I believe that it also includes how one relates and connects to other individuals in the organization. Therefore, I’ve provided five different areas that managers should focus on improving along with reflective questions and recommendations as starting points to consider.
Area 1: My supervisor and leadership team
As a former supervisor, I vividly remember the increasing demands and challenges of trying to get my individual work completed while also overseeing the work being performed by those I supervised. What was refreshing was when I had employees and direct reports who were actively engaged in helping me accomplish my goals and objectives. For this area, one should be thinking about issues of concern for their supervisor and members of the executive leadership team and to take a proactive approach in determining solutions to help them resolve those issues. Questions to ponder and to pose to your supervisor and leadership team would be the following: 1) What are some things that are on your radar for this upcoming period? and 2) What are things that I can do or improve on to better support you in your role in the organization?
Area 2: Stakeholders
A stakeholder is defined as “anyone who can affect or is affected by the activities of an organization.” While this is a broad category that can include a wide variety of individuals and groups, for the purposes of this article, I am focusing specifically on those stakeholders who provide an organization with financial revenue and/ or key resources that help sustain the organization’s operations (i.e., customers, clients). Something to consider in this area is how to position yourself as the expert who has the most up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the wants and needs of these individuals. This will play a key role in your ability to keep existing customers/ clients.
Area 3: Employees/Direct Reports
The current labor shortage has increased the importance of managers in organizations. In the October 2021 issue of Fargo INC!, I mentioned how managers play a key role in the retention of employees. The key activity in this area is increasing the quality of 1 on 1 conversations and meetings with those you supervise. In addition to regular updates on work performance, topics of discussion should come from posing questions such as the following: 1) How would you like me/the organization to celebrate and recognize your achievements and accomplishments?, 2) What are the challenges you are facing? and 3) What resources and/or training and development can I/the organization provide to support you in your efforts? The value in these conversations is that it positions you as the ideal supervisor that individuals want to work for which plays a role in employee retention.
Area 4: Colleagues/Co-Workers
Getting things done and accomplished through your employees and direct reports is one thing. But what about your ability to do the same through individuals who don’t report to you? I want to challenge you to think about your interactions with your colleagues and co-workers and ways that you can improve those working relationships. Make a list of all your colleagues and co-workers that you interact with frequently and that provide essential resources needed by you or your specific area of responsibility. Then, begin to reflect on the quality of each of those working relationships by considering the following questions: 1) Overall, is this a positive working relationship?, 2) What does my colleague/co-worker need from me in the context of my work?, 3) Have I delivered on my promises to this individual in the past? and 4) What can I do in the future to improve these working relationships?
Area 5: Oneself
To provide value to an organization, it is important for managers to value themselves. Oftentimes, we can get so caught up with the wants and needs of others that we don’t take into consideration our own wants and needs. A focus in this area is to connect the dots to determine if there can be some win-win outcomes between oneself and the other areas above. Here are some questions to consider: 1) Do I have the appropriate resources to deliver what others want or need on a consistent basis?, 2) Do I have the adequate time to do everything that is needed? and 3) What do I need to do to improve my physical and emotional well-being?
Making efforts in each area is a holistic approach to increasing your overall value within an organization. I would recommend identifying a new initiative in each of the above areas to focus on. Or you may determine that you need to focus your attention in only one area in order to get it up to par with the other areas mentioned. Either way, it is my hope that this framework, these guidelines and these recommendations have given you some things to think about and to reflect on as you prepare for your work in the year 2022
Dr. Aikens can be reached at: [email protected].edu