CAREER CONSTANTS: The core values and themes of the workplace, part 5

This is the next part of our commentary on the values and themes that keep any workplace running. Just to review, last week’s edition was about how efficiency fits into any business operation. Right, now let’s get started on part 5. TH FIFTH CONSTANT: INITIATIVE Everything has to start from something. And nothing starts from nothing. Aside from deeper contemplation of the meaning of those words, we are generally aware that events have beginnings, and that those beginnings must come some time before the end. But what we often forget is that there can be no beginnings if there are no people willing to start. So how much value does initiative have in the workplace? Having a beginning or starting point indicates the existence of a plan. Plans outline the flow of events from beginning to desired end. Of course, only the stages of the plan that are being worked on can be controlled, and stages that have not yet come to pass cannot be controlled at all. However, outcomes can be influenced through specific actions in the beginning. To see how this works, consider the simple action of saving money as an example. Saving money to buy a non-necessity or a luxury item is the plan. The person saving the money has no control on the price of the item, but can influence their ability to buy the item by saving enough money. In the same way, desired business outcomes are not automatically granted to those who make plans to achieve them. However, planners can use the first and interceding stages of their plan to make the desired...

CAREER CONSTANTS: The core values and themes of the workplace, part 4

With our commentary on accountability done just last week, we can move our curious eyes and minds onto another value that makes professionals all the more effective in the workplace. THE FOURTH CONSTANT: EFFICIENCY Workplaces everywhere operate with a limited amount of resources. Whether they’re consumable supplies, paid utilities, fixed assets, financial capital, learning & development materials, human resources or even timelines, there are always limitations to how resources can be used in terms of quantity or longevity. Efficiency is essentially a way of producing results while keeping that reality in mind. But what does that involve? The most important consideration for efficient conversion of resources into satisfactory output is standardization or benchmarking. When there is a reliable benchmark for which resources and how much of them will be spent on the accomplishment of a particular task, it becomes an indicator of efficiency. An employee who reliably produces 3 pages of output every half-hour using only 3 pages of clean bond paper can be said to have established a benchmark. Now if that particular employee suddenly produces less than 2 pages of output during a particular half-hour period, they can be said to have decreased in efficiency. When this recurs, it can be considered as a liability because the organization is not getting the same amount of output from the employee using the standard amount of resources. To achieve the original results, they may have to increase resource consumption. Conversely, if the same employee managed to fit 4 pages worth of output on the same 3 sheets of bond paper within the same half-hour period, there is an increase...

CAREER CONSTANTS: The core values and themes of the workplace, part 3

Just to recap, our last commentary on the core values and themes of the workplace took us deeper into understanding the significance of teamwork. This time, let’s look at another foundation of any stable and successful business organization. THE THIRD CONSTANT: ACCOUNTABILITY With cooperation inside an organization, it’s easy for individual and collective roles to become mixed up. The sensibility to trace whoever is responsible for what is the basis of the value of accountability. How does accountability profoundly impact the way professionals work? Accountability can help individuals or teams receive due recognition. This is important for considering accomplishment-based rewards, such as pay raises, promotions or other employee incentives. Without properly identifying those responsible for certain achievements, recognition and rewards may be given to those who had only superficial or even no involvement. This is also true for the opposite of recognition. Without accountability, disciplinary bodies may have difficulty with properly identifying and sanctioning offending employees or units. Worse, a lack of accountability on the part of the offenders may indicate their tendency to pin the responsibility on others who were not involved. Highly responsible people will face the consequences of their actions without excuses or attempts to involve anyone else. Finally, accountability is vital to problem solving. Employees who make mistakes are also the ones most familiar about the causes and surrounding circumstances, making them uniquely equipped to initiate corrective action. This doesn’t automatically mean that people responsible for mess-ups are supposed to solve them on their own; the very fact that they failed means that they couldn’t get the job done alone, let alone correct it. Therefore,...


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