“Did you add value today?” If I could wave a magic wand, I’d have that question written on every whiteboard in every office around the world. Or if not a whiteboard, in a similar place where each person has to look at the phrase every day he or she comes to work.
My guess is that everybody’s knee-jerk reaction to the question would be, “Yes, of course I did. I went to work. I was in the office and went to meetings. I interacted with my co-workers.” Pushing aside all of those basics, after some deeper thought, many people will still truly be able to say they did add value. But some employees should and will say, “No I didn’t.”
First off, hats off to you for being honest. Being self-aware and honest isn’t always easy. Second, think about why you said no, because there are many potential reasons. Too many unproductive meetings. Too many personal obligations. Too much time spent on Twitter.
If we are all honest, we’d say there are days where we aren’t at our best and we didn’t add much or any value. So let’s expand the question. What about yesterday? Or the day before? Or the day before that? Did you add value during those days?
What I am going to say now may seem a little harsh. If you aren’t adding value the vast majority of the days you come to work, and you either don’t care or don’t care enough to do anything about it, then you need to find another job.
Many people think this, but not enough say it out loud. Maybe if more people did, more companies would have happier employees and happier customers.
The most recent Gallup State of the American Workplace Report found that highly engaged business units are linked with:
- 21 percent greater profitability.
- 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.
- 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales.
Companies are chains of individuals who bring their value to work every day to build strong products and strong customer relationships. The damage that weak links cause is more than making everyone else work harder. It’s when the chain weakens that the integrity of the product and customer relationships break down.
Some may say, “Well, I think I’m adding value, but I don’t know because my manager never tells me.” If your manager never talks to you or gives you any feedback about your job, then that’s a problem in itself. It’s perfectly valid to talk to your manager and say, “Hey, I just need to understand where I fit, what you think about what I’m doing, and do you think I’m adding value?”
Others may say, “I do believe I’m adding value. However, I am unclear as to whether the company thinks what I do adds value.” If you are unsure, again, have a conversation with your manager or possibly with your manager’s manager. It could very well be that you are doing a good job and you are clearly adding value in your manager’s eyes, but it is just unclear to you. Sometimes the project you’re working on or the task you are assigned is really building for the future, and it may be hard to see the value currently.
The important thing is that employees are constantly striving to bring value and aren’t growing too complacent or jaded. Sometimes improving customer relationships can start with looking inward at your organization to help the weak links grow strong again.