Succeeding in the workplace is the same as succeeding in any free market. Unless your employer hired you for some other reason than to help them turn a profit, you are operating on the same principles as every other small business. In a previous article I touched on how you are your first business, and as an employee the same holds true.
Remember, you are your first company. You have an input, and you have an output. The process or you may exist within the scope of 9-5 employment but that does not change the way success is achieved.
So, how does a business succeed again? By identifying a need that can be facilitated by your core competencies and maintaining a competitive advantage! What are the factors of competitive advantage? A competitive advantage exists when offering a product or service at a lower cost, higher quality, or shorter lead!
There is no employer in the world that wouldn’t love to hire you for a lower rate, if you do quality work, and if you finish your tasks quickly. That is the dream employee. Wait, work for a lower rate..? That is in direct contradiction with the goal of a business (To make money now and in the future.) Well, yes and no. Depending on the saturation of a market there are times in which lowering your price is required in order to make a sale. This is especially true in a highly saturated job market. I would suggest against getting into such a market but some people find their passion in a place like this.
If lowering your wage is out of the question, which for most it is, concentrate your efforts on providing quality results in the shortest amount of time possible. Price is only one metric of your competitive advantage. In fact, if you have the ability to do a job faster than anyone else you may be able to charge a premium for your services. An example of this may be a CPA charging an additional fee the closer they get to April 15th.
The same holds true for quality work. Perhaps you have a skill that allows you to perform a position better than anyone else in a given price range. The quality of your work could possibly push you into a new echelon. Hair dressers see this all the time. Women pay a ton to have their hair done by a quality stylist because they know they will get a quality cut. So, if you have an ability that is not common it may be possible to use that to set you apart from the rest.
To recap the three metrics:
A quick caveat, the only time anyone will have the advantage in all three areas is in a new market. This means unless you are the only person who can do what you do it is only possible to have a competitive advantage in at most two of the above areas. Understand though that whichever area you focus on will come at the expense of the other two. An example of this would be a seasoned airbrush painter who can paint custom bikes. The level of quality will likely come with a long lead and a steep price. You have heard the phrase, “you get what you pay for” well, this is why.
If you are starting a new position understand that producing the highest quality work in the shortest amount of time may take a while. As your intuition of the position grows you will learn where you can speed things up or increase your quality. Employers know this and won’t expect you to know everything right out of the gate.
There you have it; the secret formula to succeeding in the workplace is the same as succeeding as a small business. Do a quality job in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable fee and success will follow. Don’t forget that markets change, and demands change so be sure to flexible in all that you do and don’t be surprised if your obligations today are not your obligations tomorrow.