Don't Just Complete Tasks: Add Value by Thinking Like an Owner

If you want to move ahead in your career, join the minority of employees who don’t merely complete tasks but also bring value to the workplace. In other words, think like a business owner.

“People essentially want to be told what to do on a daily basis,” says Blaine Loomer, chief marketing officer at Quartersoft and author of Corporate Bullshit: A Survival Guide. “A lot of people are afraid of making mistakes. Some people are afraid of failure. That really is unfortunate.”

If you want to join the estimated 10 percent of employees who add value, don’t just bring problems to your boss. Bring solutions. “I hate to have people come into my office and complain just because they don’t like the way something’s being done,” he says. “If you want to complain, fine. But have a better solution. I had a marketing lady who worked for me for 10 years. She was very good at researching things and laying out different plan. She never came into my office without two or three options and associated costs for those options. She did the research, which made my job much easier.”

Treat the company’s money like your own. “When people travel, they typically go out and spend a pile of money because it’s the company’s money,” Loomer says. “If you wouldn’t take your spouse to a $400 dinner, then you probably shouldn’t take a client on the company’s money.”

Focus on what drives the business. “One of the things I track is the opportunity cost of doing a certain task,” Loomer says. “Let’s not spend $500 worth of time on a $50 problem or spend hours and hours on a problem that can be solved relatively quickly.” One example: spending hours choosing a hotel to save $5 per night. If you cost the company $75 of your salary to save $15 on a three-day trip, that’s not a real savings.

Before saying no, see if there’s a way to make things work.  At one floral shop near Washington, DC, the delivery driver left around noon so any orders that came in after that couldn’t be delivered that day. One day a longtime client called in an order just after the driver left for an address only three blocks from the shop. The office manager delivered the order himself on foot.

But as you think like an owner, remember you’re not the owner. Loomer cautions against doing something drastic like offering a big discount without running it by your boss.
Finally as you work to add value, keep in mind that some people will try to take credit for what you’re doing. Loomer advices that one way to make sure you get credit is copying people on emails.

“Just a simple task of copying somebody on an email saying ‘Here’s my plan,’” he says. “That helps folks understand where you’re adding value. It helps them understand that value is coming from you – not somebody else.”

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