The Importance of Providing Value - December 2013
As we strive to be successful in our careers, we are driven by many motivating factors that shape the way we do business. There are many factors that influence us throughout our journey and they often change significantly depending on what stage you are at in your career and your life. The motivator that has been most beneficial in my career, however, has been the desire to provide value. I have often confused this concept with the idea of doing a good job, receiving a raise, enacting significant change in an organization or receiving praise. But what I have found is that these may be the results that come from my hard work and effort but are not value by themselves.
Exploring the concept of value starts with understanding its definition both in an objective and relative sense. The objective definition of value in this context is the estimated or assigned worth, value, merit or importance of the productivity you provide to another. Applied in a relative context, however, the concept of value has a tendency to flex according to that person’s experiences, culture, background, race, gender, etc. I believe that, at least in the business context, value has a more static definition than we think. My definition in an organizational context is the net improvement that an organization receives from an individual’s production that it would not otherwise have received without that individual’s personal contribution. This is a simplified version of a complex subject, but exploring this definition in depth has been significantly beneficial to me.
The second half of the relative definition stated above is most critical to my understanding of the distinction between the objective and relative definition of value. It is easy for many of us to get caught in an entitlement mentality of deserving benefits because of the role we fill or the time that we give or the metrics that we hit. But this typically leads to dissatisfaction on our part, on the part of our employer, or both. The primary reason for this dissatisfaction is that one or multiple parties in the relationship are focused on what they are receiving and not what they are providing. I have found that the converse of this is much more effective in creating overall satisfaction on both sides. When both sides are focusing on the value that they are bringing to the relationship without expecting a benefit in return, the relationship achieves its most productive state.
The starting point in a move towards implementing this concept is gaining an understanding of an organization’s goals, structure, and history. After that understanding is achieved, the application of this new lense to the future state of the company can provide significant benefits (this can also be applied to a division, a team, a job, or an individual relationship – I have found it’s applicable at all levels). Identifying a problem that is affecting an organization is also a very effective starting point. By aligning my goals towards solving a problem or enacting change creates a platform for my effort to impact the organization in a positive way. This is different from just feeling like I am performing well at my job or accomplishing the duties that have been assigned to me – unless I am sure that my job is perfectly aligned to the overall goals for the organization and that my efforts coincide with its changing needs. Otherwise, I am just doing a job well and not necessarily creating any value for the company or for myself.
By focusing on the benefits provided from our productivity rather than one that centers on the results or benefits received, I think it is possible for each of us to discover the best way to find and provide value in our work. I try to apply this approach to all types of work that I take on, whether the work comes in the form of implementing a solution for a client, managing an employee, or working around my house. My goal is to try to produce value in even the most mundane or tedious tasks, which allows me to find satisfaction in the work itself, not in any result that I may or may not receive.
- Ryan Neal, President
Blueprint Consulting Services