A Look at Some of 2014’s Best Advice for Doing Your Job Better

As you scrambled to finish your work in 2014, you may not have given much thought to all the lessons you learned this past year and how they could benefit your career. But never fear! The elves at The Fast Track have been busy putting together a last minute gift for you.

So, here it is. A tidy package of some of the best strategies, advice and insights that will ensure your 2015 sees you striding forward in your career.

If you’re in a leadership position, consider these insights:

  • Before a meeting, use your empathy skills to get in the right frame of mind. What is that person thinking, feeling, and dealing with this week—personally or professionally? Put away email, project plans, and notebooks and really listen and relate for the first couple of minutes.
  • Employees shouldn’t have to wonder how they’re doing or wait until a formal performance assessment to find out; they should be receiving steady, regular feedback throughout the year.
  • Leaders should get out of their comfort zone and relentlessly look at themselves with a critical point of view. Some say they should fire themselves on Friday night and try to get re-hired on Monday morning.

Looking to move up in your career, become more productive or make better decisions? Then you need to pay attention to this advice:

  • You must set goals that are realistic and attainable but also goals that cause you to stretch. There should be a short-term, medium-range, and long-term aspect to your goals. You’ve got to know where you want to be in a decade, where you’re going to be in a year, as well as what you’re going to do today.
  • Don’t make excuses for the people who continually dump their problems on you. While we can all provide a sympathetic ear now and again, that doesn’t mean others should take advantage of you and expect you to drop everything to listen to them and even solve their problems. That’s a form of manipulation that does them – and you – no good.
  • People seem to have this all or nothing mindset about getting their ideas adopted. I won several times in the past and have taught many more company superheroes to win by showing them how a good pilot with desired results well documented and displayed wins many arguments.

If you’re a sales managers, consider:

  • Over-servicing is not as much of a problem in B2B as it can be in B2C, but you do have to worry about meeting sky high expectations. If you return a client email at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, it’s impressive initially but then becomes the expectation. And when you drop the ball, you’re in trouble.
  • The biggest mistake is not asking the customer for feedback. You have to engage with them while they are using your product or service and find out what they’re thinking. Another mistake is a failure to up level products and services. In order to generate repeat business, the next offer or product needs to be in place.
  • The sales manager should be more concerned about whether or not the strategies the team members are using are solid enough to succeed, not in demanding they do it the same way the manager did it when they were in sales. Their job now is not to sell, but to coach, identify gaps and help develop their team.

Advice that can benefit project managers includes:

  • My approach to managing a project is to delegate as much as possible so that I can empower, grow and encourage others to take on more responsibility. There is nothing worse than working for a project manager who doesn’t trust their team to make decisions and run with the detail.
  • Metrics are highly sought after in the first few months of a program, but then people tend to get metric-itis. But the one time you don’t check the metrics, something important will pop up that you’ll miss. One helpful tool is a web-based dashboard report that provides a consistent look at your metrics and gets stakeholders into the habit of doing regular quick checks.
  • Don’t assume that work is progressing as you’d planned simply because you’ve given assignments to others. Instead, make a point of engaging regularly, so that you’ll know if the work is moving forward on schedule or whether course corrections are needed.

If you fill the operations manager role, then insights to help you include:

  • I am not a big fan of people giving Powerpoint presentations to show progress, I like to see data extracted from systems.
  • There are a lot of smart people in a lot of industries. It’s time companies brought in those who are able to think digitally and put some of these things in place. Let IT be part of the conversation, because it will cost you more if you work around them. You need a tight link with IT.

No matter what challenges you will face in 2015, rest assured that The Fast Track team will be here to offer more great advice and insight from top experts and leaders in their fields. Happy holidays!



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