You want to grow your brand, you want more opportunities, you want to be in the inner circle where the action is, and you want to call the shots. Fine. But first you must learn where to have impact, and to do that you must produce results.
Are You Getting The Right Stuff Done?
In the early 60s Mr Herzberg posited Motivation-Hygiene theory, or Two-Factor theory, to explain how you can motivate staff, and despite not being perfect, it's a useful way to look at where you should focus your impact. Herzberg suggested there wasn't just one lever to make employees happy (i.e. pay), but two: the hygiene lever and the motivator lever. It looked a bit like this:
|Hygeine Factors||Motivation Factors|
|If you don't do these things your employees will not be happy. But doing more doesn't really inspire them further. This stuff is just expected.||This is how you get your employees excited. If you don't do these things your employees won't be disheartened, but if you do they will be stoked.|
|i.e. A clean working environment free of distractions||i.e. Yearly team offsites in Cancun|
Because these are separate scales, Herzberg said it's possible for employees to be both disgruntled and happy at the same time. But note that it's really hard to focus on being super motivated when the hygiene factors aren't even in place. As in, I love the trips to Cancun, but I'm really worried about the spreading mould in the corner of my office and I don't really want to come into work anymore. (Herzberg used different examples, probably.)
We can use this same model to review your impact in your current role. Because there's not just one lever to have impact, but two and they should be treated very differently.
|Hygeine Factors||Motivation Factors|
|If you don't do these things your boss and peers will not be happy. But doing more doesn't really inspire them. This stuff is just expected.||This is how you get your boss and peers excited. If you don't do these things no one will notice, but if you do they will be stoked.|
|i.e. deliver 100% of the project on time and on budget||i.e. deliver 100% of the project ahead of time and under budget|
Before you focus on anything else, you have to take care of the list of things in your job description, the hygiene factors. No one is going to be excited that your project came in early and under budget if you only delivered 50% and annoyed everyone in the process. But importantly, no one will celebrate with you when you do what you were hired to do, so don't draw any attention to the fact you are doing your job, or people will question how high a bar you have really set yourself. But start here and don't move on until you have achieved 100%, because NOT doing anything here will get you fired.
Once you have the hygeine factors covered, you can start to work on the motivator factors. This is what you want your network raving about, so feel free to draw attention to this. This is where you go above and beyond the call of duty. It's also where you get to play, where you get to build a brand over and above the safe pair of hands that you are. Don't take on extra projects unless you have the basics down cold, or you will be overextended and overexposed.
Putting It Into Practice:
So, with this in mind, when was the last time you evaluated what you are working on? When did you last ask your stakeholders what is expected (either formally or informally)? Being clear on this can teach you where you need to focus your time this week, and where you should be building your brand.
Focus on the core, take on everything that is expected of you and don't drop anything, ever. When you have that solid chose carefully where you want to have additional impact. Because you get to chose the extra credit, so chose wisely.