Title: An Autobiographical View: A Solid Foundation (Part 2)
By: Darren R. Weinstock, MBA
Today’s post is about creating a solid foundation in your career. I have built this “solid” foundation by doing three things pretty well:
- striving for informal mentors
- performing like an internal consultant
- maintaining credibility with my work
By putting your own spin on these three topics, you will grow as an employee. They are only ideas that work for me. 😉
I once had a sorta new (<1 year tenure) co-worker ask me, “hey don’t take this the wrong way, but how have you made it 12 years here”. I replied, “Well I don’t know, doesn’t seem like 12 years. I just do my work and I have a handful of really close coworkers that I can rely on and learn from”. In all actuality, these “close coworkers” are really informal mentors. I made a conscious decision towards the beginning of my career to always stay in touch with people I deem as trustworthy, hardworking, loyal, helpful, kind, cheerful, and knowledgeable. Sounds sorta familiar to the Part 1 post (the Scout Law), now that I think of it. These coworkers are at all levels of the organization; from Executive VP to Marketing Associate. I interact with them on a weekly and/or monthly basis. Their values (above) tell you that they help me understand the lay of the land, bounce ideas off of, train in software that they are experts in, and/or just shoot the breeze. Notice that I mention multiple informal mentors. This is for a couple of reasons, coworkers come and go, different skills, different needs, etc.
I perform like an internal consultant. That being that I don’t work like a “black box”, data mule, or an order taker. For those that don’t know what a data mule is: It’s a person that spits out data without adding any value to it for the requester. By the way, that’s my personal definition. I look to add value to the project by acting like a consultant. Whereas, I will review the person’s request, communicate to uncover more details, and then fulfill the request. This process minimizes the need for rework. If I were to simply take the request at face value and spit back the data/report, then I would be basically a drone or computer. This way I get “skin in the game” and help navigate to a solution that is best for the company.
I maintain credibility by checking my work, tying out the numbers, and the following process. I learned very important thing about 3 years into my career, whereas my VP had me add a “Title, Request, Assumptions, and Results” tab to every single report that I created.
- Title- A general sentence of what the request is about.
- Prepared by: Darren Weinstock
- Prepared for: requester’s name
- Date: obvious 😉
- Version: obvious (this is more for a report or project that is refreshed)
- Request- A copy/paste from the requester’s email (or paraphrased meeting content).
- Assumptions- This is where I put all of my assumptions. Basically what the report covers and what it does not. It can also have some SQL, criteria, explanations.
- Results- Most of the time this area is a very high level summary. I leave the rest of the Excel file’s tabs as the results.
- Screen shot of tool used- Depending on what tool I used, I will put a screenshot. This allows me to later determine what tool I used and sometimes what server.
Another part of credibility is the ability to stand behind your work when questioned (yes, that does happen sometimes). This process above allows you to use the data as your “foundation” to stand upon. Without it, all conversation is subjective nonsense. Just my point of view. Sometimes the “telephone” game can occur and the requester did give you the right request, but it wasn’t anything she/he or you did wrong. The request misinterpreted the request from his/her higher up. Rework then is inevitable.
In summary, this post hit upon three topics that will help you succeed at your career. No matter if you are a financial analyst, marketing manager, administrative assistant, or Vice President. You can take your own approach on implementation, but using these tools will only help.
Thanks for your time and have a great week!