Feeling bored or stagnant in your current role? Thinking about searching for a new job, but not sure a job change is right for you? This is an excellent time to reflect upon not only your successes of the previous year, but also to look to the future with an eye toward enhancing your job satisfaction and, potentially, your career. One question can guide this process — what perspective are you bringing to your job? While many factors impact job satisfaction, a positive, and proactive perspective can often lead to increased opportunities for satisfaction and professional growth. In determining the perspective you bring to your job, ask yourself the following:
“Where can I contribute?”
At first glance, this may seem obvious. Job descriptions map out responsibilities and requirements of the job and, often, serve as a contract between employee and employer about mutually shared expectations for the position. If you don’t know the answer to this question, look to conversations with your boss as part of your company’s performance evaluation process as the best place to start. However, the new year provides a chance to reflect upon these responsibilities, separate and apart from your annual performance review. Consider how external factors may have impacted your job in a way that didn’t previously exist. For example, changing customer needs and economic and demographic factors and industry trends can result in an opportunity to make a positive contribution that didn’t exist before. Internal factors such as a company re-organization or change in leadership may also help pave the way to contribute to your organization differently than you have in the past. Ongoing dialogue with your boss can help refine these ideas into concrete contributions.
“Where can I go above and beyond?”
“Going above and beyond” can occur in both large and small ways and means different things in different organizations. Your perspective will largely determine this — do I do the bare minimum in my job or do I consistently add value to a project, program or initiative? What is it about your job that you’re most enthusiastic about and how can you contribute to a project or initiative that you haven’t contributed to in the past? As you consider your own perspective, also consider your co-workers’ view of you. Am I the “go-to” person to get things done, or am I seen as an obstacle? Conversations with co-workers about their successes and pain points can provide insight into where you can potentially add value. Taking initiative through offering assistance or expertise to help move a stalled project forward is another way to contribute. Going above and beyond can also include mentoring a co-worker or more junior employee or volunteering to lead or serve on a committee.
“Where can I collaborate more effectively?”
As Helen Keller famously said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Collaboration is perhaps one of the best ways to expand your perspective and contribute to your job in a new way. This can be as simple as requesting feedback from a co-worker (especially from someone you don’t normally request feedback from), trusted colleague or mentor, or reaching out to another team or across functional areas to gain new ideas and insights in support of a project or initiative. New or expanded partnerships with vendors, partners and other key stakeholders may also provide the chance to contribute in a new way.
“Where can I build and share my knowledge?”
As you reflect upon the past year, are there knowledge gaps or areas where enhanced knowledge can help you become more confident and perform your job more effectively? Is this lack of knowledge holding you back? Many companies offer in-house training for free or at a reduced cost. Company-sponsored training is often designed specifically for employees with the added bonus of being conveniently located. Many companies also offer full or partial tuition reimbursement for college degrees, certifications or other training. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers this benefit, be sure to take advantage of it. Participating in training and networking opportunities with professional associations is another way to learn from others and apply it in your current role. If you’re a subject matter expert, consider sharing your expertise with others in your field by submitting a conference presentation, white paper or article to the association(s) that represent your industry. Sharing your knowledge as a thought leader can help to expand the perspective of others and may create opportunities for increased collaboration with other professionals in your field.
Identifying ways to contribute in new ways, go above and beyond, collaborate more effectively, and build and share your knowledge are just a few ways to bring a new, proactive perspective to your job in the coming months.
Rachel Loock is a career and executive coach with the Executive MBA program at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.