Tag Archives: self-improvement

Preparation Breeds Confidence: Four Strategies to Prepare for Success

By Jill J. Johnson, MBA

Most people want to take shortcuts; however, the more thorough your preparation, the greater the likelihood is that you will have success. Preparation is essential to having confidence in yourself no matter what setting you are in—this will build your confidence when you are in high pressure situations such as interviewing for a job or dealing with higher-level bosses.

It takes time to build your skills to a deep level of mastery. It does not happen overnight. With practice, you will build deeper awareness of yourself. You will develop greater confidence. You will demonstrate your emerging growth in mastering your new skill. This preparation will prepare you to maximize your opportunities for success.

1) Daily Efforts are Essential for Success

If you aspire to leadership in any area of your career, you need to invest time in each of the many components required to be effective. By engaging in your practice on a daily basis, you create a more manageable method to prepare yourself for success.

Breaking your skill development down into smaller components so you can practice your progressions in more manageable chunks is essential. This is especially true with all the demands we have on our time and attention.

Each day you must determine at a micro level what you need to do to be prepared for your advancement to your next level of success. How you then practice those required skills is your preparation.

As you elevate, your opportunities will get tighter. Fewer people move on to reach the highest-level leadership roles. Those who decide they will progress to higher rungs of success figure out a path to get there, and beyond. They’re confident in what they know because they are prepared.

2) Build Your Skills Before You Need Them

You know the saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” It is so true. If you’re not prepared, you won’t have any confidence in yourself when the opportunity to move forward toward your dreams presents itself.

You must always be preparing so you have developed your skills before you need them. To be prepared to progress to a level beyond where you are now, you need to look ahead. Pay attention to what others at that level are doing. Ask yourself, “What else is going to be needed from me as I move up to my next level of success?”

You can practice your skill development anywhere—at home, at school, in your job, in a church group. You can even practice while you are interacting with your children, shopping at the grocery store or coaching soccer. Anywhere.

Finding opportunities to practice new skills are all around you. You should plan to practice your new skills both inside and outside of work.

3) Volunteering Accelerates Your Preparation For Success

You probably think you are too busy to volunteer for a leadership role in an association, community group or non-profit organization. Work and family responsibilities likely leave very little room in your schedule for taking on any kind of outside leadership role. Yet this view limits your opportunities to accelerate your potential for success. The truth is, engaging in volunteer leadership experience can have an exceptional impact on your entire career.

By agreeing to serve in any leadership role, you will have an opportunity to practice skills you need to work on and helps you gain exposure to new skills you will need for long-term career success. Confidence comes to you faster when you practice in a lower risk environment when you volunteer.

Whatever you need to practice, you can do this when you volunteer. You can practice some element of a skill you will need to prepare for your next promotion. You can use a volunteer role to practice speaking up with confidence.

Your confidence will compound because you will have multiple opportunities to develop your expertise. Volunteering allows you a venue to learn to work more effectively with different generations. You will expand your network of contacts, as well.Make the effort to find people who can provide you with new insights about other possibilities you may not have considered. Click To Tweet

4) Working Through Learning Curves

As you build your skills, you will have learning curves. There will be times when you’re going to fumble and bumble. Mistakes happen to everyone. You must always be willing to learn from the experience. No matter what the skill, you will need to practice.

Sometimes you’ll blow it. It’s okay. Chalk it up to a learning curve. Resolve to do better next time. Don’t make a habit out of the failure. Don’t let a mistake or lack of expertise shatter you. Move forward and learn from it.

You cannot take big leaps toward success unless you first take small leaps to build your confidence. The success you learn in those leaps compounds over time. By repeatedly testing yourself, and by preparing yourself for your next opportunity to win, you’ll be ready because you’re practicing and you are progressing in your skill development. These two confidence keys are now intertwined.

Final Thoughts

Always have an ongoing focus as you practice. This will deeply embed your skills so you can call on them with growing ease every time you need them. Then you can work on mastering them to develop your skills to a highly refined degree of finesse.

Consider how you will prepare for your next level of success. To consistently move forward, you need to intentionally develop new skills and probe for deeper insights of understanding as the issues you address become more complex. The search to understand what it will take to propel you toward your next leadership challenge never stops. Each one is a progression for you.

Make the effort to find people who can provide you with new insights about other possibilities you may not have considered. As you see the greater possibilities for your life, you will begin searching for opportunities to make them real. As you practice and prepare for your future, you will build more confidence, and the sky can be your limit.

Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.

Serve This, Not That…

Five Things You Need to Know About Planning a Menu for your Next Business Meeting

 By Tracy Stuckrath

In the past when you scheduled a business meeting you had pizza delivered or ordered sandwiches from the local deli. Sometimes you splurged by taking the group out to a local restaurant. It was never a concern about what was offered or served to the group.

As someone in charge of planning a company function these days, however, ignoring the needs of your employees or clients could potentially send some to the hospital or break a sale. David learned this when he was preparing for a lunch presentation and had a couple of new consultants at his client’s firm.

He had started a practice of sending the standard, gluten-free and vegan menus to his clients “to let people figure out what they would like to eat instead of getting stuck with another round of pizza or sandwiches.” He had heard one of the new guys was hard to get along with. Little did David know, that by sending over different menus, he was able to meet the new person’s dietary needs and that a consultant didn’t have to sit through the presentation watching everyone enjoy their lunches while he was “eating his second piece of lettuce.”

Sending over the multiple menus for him to choose from also allowed a relationship to begin on a positive note and he has since worked with him on other projects and has shared some of his own experience with food issues that his daughter was being tested for—win-win all the way around.

The number of people adhering to specific diets these days is increasing daily. From paleo to keto, food allergies to diabetes, celiac disease to veganism, cancer to halal, your employees, customers and potential clients may well be following a special diet.

Reasons for the increase in requests include:

  • Rotating location of events to different parts of the world
  • Increased international attendance and diverse, global workforces
  • Increase in chronic disease and aging workforce
  • Kosher attendees are asking for accommodation
  • Rise in food allergies
  • More attendees are choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan
  • Diverse religious dietary requirements
  • Growing acceptance of alternative diets
  • General desire to eat healthier

No matter the reason, understanding and accommodating the dietary needs of your employees and customers should be considered standard practice for anyone planning a meeting or event. But with so many requests, how do you if know if you can serve this and not that?By taking a few extra steps to ensure their personal enjoyment, safety and health is valuable and showcases your professionalism. Click To Tweet

1. Know the Needs

Managing the multitude of requests can be challenging at best, but understanding the basic guidelines for the most prevalent requests can go a long way.

Food Allergies: More than 120 foods are known to cause allergic reactions, but eight foods cause 90 percent of all allergic reactions—milk, egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and fish—by touching, ingesting, or inhaling. Food allergies can be fatal, so it’s important to take these requests seriously, and ensure your catering partners do too.

Medical Conditions: There are a variety of other medical conditions that are managed through diet—celiac disease/gluten sensitivity, diabetes, Crohn’s, diverticulitis, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Although they may not be immediately life threatening like food allergies, they can trigger serious health issues that take your attendees away from your meeting.

Lifestyle Preferences: More than 27 million people follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. Millions of others are eating gluten-free, paleo, raw, macrobiotic or vegan. The reasons for doing so can be personal, moral or health-related. No matter what the reason, meeting hosts need to appreciate and accept their preferences.

Religious & Cultural Practices: One third of the world population follows a religious-based diet, so knowing attendee demographics is important. Some may choose to eat vegan or vegetarian when traveling, but others may require a certified meal. And some religious diets vary based on the calendar and the time of day.

2. Planning is Critical

Managing food restrictions and needs can be cumbersome, but a little extra planning and forethought can go a long way.

Ask your attendees about their dietary needs when inviting them. If you have online registration, be specific by using check boxes—not fill-in-the-blank boxes—which leave room for assumptions that could potentially be fatal. Otherwise, give attendees a way to inform you of their needs.

Talk to your attendees. If you have questions about their needs, call them. Put them in touch with the chef or restaurant directly. They’re the experts on their own needs, so who better to ask? Maybe they could even help plan the menu for everyone.

Communicate with your caterer(s) in advance—not hours, but at least a week before, if possible. The earlier your catering partner knows, the more time they have to incorporate the needs into the overall menu or provide quality options. Also ensure the necessary safety steps are being taken in preparing, cooking and serving food. Cross-contact in the kitchen and the front of the house can be fatal.

3. Offer Fresher, More Nutritious Options

While chain restaurants are now required by law to provide nutrition information about the food they sell, ordering food from a local restaurant that makes their food from scratch allows for easier identification of ingredients and to make any necessary adjustments for dietary needs.

4. Foster an Inclusive Environment

The ideal inclusive environment has long been meant to allow individuals to bring their true and authentic selves to work. However, most inclusion efforts do not address dietary needs.

For example, an Indian man accepted the chicken salad plate presented to him at lunch because he did not want to ask for a vegetarian meal. Instead he ate the romaine lettuce the chicken salad was placed on. John, a vegan who was interning at a company who offered him a job upon graduation was partaking in the intern pizza lunch. When he was not eating the pizza, he was asked why not. Instead of asking if a vegan pizza could be ordered, he ate his vegan protein bar.

5. No Longer Just a Matter of Good Guest Relations

In 2008, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended to clarify and broaden that definition of the word “disability,” thus expanding the number and types of persons protected under the ADA, including individuals with food allergies, celiac disease, and other conditions that affect their ability to eat.

At meetings that are either a requirement or benefit of employment, a reasonable meal accommodation must be provided to meet an employee’s dietary need(s) or it can be seen as discriminating against the employee for their disability. The ADAAA protection also extends to any events held in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, hotels, convention and conference centers.

In conclusion

As a meeting host, you’re responsible for bringing people together from around the world to share an experience. While at your meeting, they are in, in an essence, under your care. You have taken on the commitment to plan their meals and their experience. And, as such, you’re responsible for the health, safety and well-being.

By taking a few extra steps to ensure their personal enjoyment, safety and health is valuable and showcases your professionalism.

As founder and chief connecting officer of Thrive!, Tracy Stuckrath helps organizations worldwide understand how food and beverage (F&B) affects risk, employee/guest experience, company culture and the bottom line. As a speaker, consultant, author and event planner, she is passionate about safe and inclusive F&B that satisfies everyone’s needs. She has presented to audiences on five continents and believes that food and beverage provide a powerful opportunity to engage audiences on multiple levels. For more information about Tracy, please visit: www.thrivemeetings.com.

This Year I Hope to [Insert Answer Here]

By Jeff Bush

Imagine closing your eyes, throwing a dart at the Wall Street Journal to pick a stock you had to invest your entire savings in. You can’t look at the price until the last day of the year; nervous? But yet, this is how most businesses plan. They choose one time a year, develop a plan, put it in the drawer only to review it at the same time the following year and hope they achieved their goal. This approach is not a good investment strategy, nor is it a good business planning process.

Everyone has heard the saying, “hope is not a plan”. That’s because it rings true. But equally true is that your life is only limited by the work you don’t do. You work to achieve. Achievement is the manifestation of executing more consistently and methodically. Are you ready to achieve your goals? Are you prepared to get your business back on track? Try this strategy.

A more fluid approach to business planning is more realistic in the “real world” vs. the one-and -done way you’ve always done planning. Business planning should be a living, breathing process that follows a cycle of brainstorming, winnowing, executing and measuring which naturally leads to the next planning opportunity. This process can be as short as weeks or as long as years. Each part of a business follows different timelines and the planning process for each, should match.

Just like New Year’s resolutions fall away quickly because of a lack of an execution strategy, business plans succumb to the same fate; destined to collect dust on a shelf or occupying the ignored bottom position in your inbox. Why? Because these methods lack a quantifiable execution and measurement strategy, which is a pivotal portion of the planning process—the part of the process where most fall short.

Whether you’re well on your way to achieving your business goals and you are ready to shoot for something bigger, or you’ve fallen short of expectations and you are looking to get back on track, a measurable execution strategy must be deployed and continuously redeployed through the process.

The first step in any execution strategy is to define the issue in sufficient detail such that anyone in your organization will intuitively understand the incremental activities necessary to achieve the goal. If you cannot break the goal down into actionable steps, you need to continue refining your goal. A goal is only actionable when it is evident to everyone in your business what those actionable steps are.

The most straightforward example is a sales goal. Most business plans will state a specific numeric goal, “50,000,000 dollars in product sales”. But if your organization doesn’t understand the connection of that goal to their unique job duties it will likely never happen.Your life is only limited by the work you don’t do Click To Tweet

Instead, restate the goal to something more actionable, “Maintain 100 percent client retention of profitable $1mm clients while sourcing, vetting and closing one new client that will average $5mm in sales each week.” If the goal is restated in such a way to that every department of your company understands their role in achieving that goal it is much more likely to happen. A sales goal is not going to get a person in accounts receivable to change their behavior. Arguably, an overly zealous receivables person could be detrimental to your goal by collecting in such a way that drives clients out the door. By changing the focus of the goal to an action statement, it changes the way your organization views their role in executing their part in the process. It focuses a goal into a philosophical change with obvious incremental steps. Now list the steps, as few or as many as it takes, but it must be actionable and measurable.

  • Identify five leads weekly
  • Qualify three prospects per-week from the leads
  • Close one client per-week with a potential average $5mm in annual sales per month (keep in mind, if you onboard a new client late in the year, they likely will not do $5mm in sales this year.)
  • Reduce new client onboarding time to three business days
  • Prioritize our customer service model, so we are spending 80 percent of our time with those clients making up 80% of our sales. (Once again, the old 80/20 rule)
  • 100 percent on-time shipping every day.
  • Reduce accounts receivable to forty-five days.

Secondly, you have to do the work. While this seems obvious, the majority of goals find their way to the scrap heap for the most basic of reasons. The work was done intermittently, but honestly, the work was not done.

Someone first said, “What gets measured gets done.” And they were right. So measure your action steps. Use technology to help keep track of your progress. Reminders on your phone work, but some prefer something more visual. Use a spreadsheet program to come up with a customized action tracking sheet.

A suggestion would be, at the end of the measuring period, color code the boxes to highlight successes and challenges. Distribute the finished sheet each period to all stakeholders.” What gets measured gets done”.

And finally, you need to have a consistent and honest accountability system. Accountability to do the small, necessary steps to accomplish your goal, both in quantity and quality. The fallacy of the spreadsheet of reminders is we can lie to ourselves. As human beings, we have a horrible ability to lie to ourselves and, worse yet, believe our lies.

So how do you manage this fault? Have an accountability partner. Find that person who cares enough about your success that they won’t tell you what you want to hear or make you feel better about only half-hearted work. Share with them your spreadsheet each week and go over every single event. Mutual accountability works well. Find a fellow salesperson, manager, significant other or business owner that is working on their own goals and be accountable to one another.

It has been said, “If success were easy, everyone would be successful.” While it is not easy, you have more control over your success than you think; and sometimes it is just about having a definable goal and doing the work consistently and being honest with the quantity and quality of your efforts.

Jeff Bush, Wall Street’s Washington insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics, and the author of American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues. A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Jeff works with executive teams, business owners, and high income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-market place. For more information on Jeff Bush, please visit www.JeffBush.net.

Realizing Positive Outcomes

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, EditorBy Peter DeHaan

As a publisher of trade magazines, I travel to conventions and industry shows. Before that, as a consultant, I traveled to my clients’ offices. Therefore, it may surprise you that I don’t like to travel, especially to fly—unpredictable, impersonal, and a loss of control.

I am a homebody, perfectly content to stay within the comfort of my home—my castle—which is also my office. It’s not that I am people adverse, because with the telephone, email, and text, I am always available. It’s simply that I enjoy being home and anything else, including travel, pales with the comfort of home sweet home.

Like any traveler, I have many stories.

A Private Flight: One time, awaiting a connecting flight in Detroit and anxious to return home, I sat at the sparsely occupied gate, immersed in my crossword puzzle. Suddenly, an announcement interrupted my focus, “Now boarding all rows, all passengers for flight 3512 for Kalamazoo; this is the final boarding.” Strange, I mused; I had apparently tuned out all the previous announcements.

Grateful that I heard this one, I walked alone to the gate and handed the agent my ticket. “We wondered if you were here,” she smiled. Perplexed at such a strange comment, I smiled back and inanely replied, “Yes, I am here,” and proceeded through the doorway. The door shut behind me.

Walking down the empty jet way, I stepped onto the plane; the flight attendant informed me that I was the only passenger. She asked if I would be needing beverage service. I thanked her and joked that she could take the night off.

Later, as I deplaned in Kalamazoo, I inquired if this thing happened very often. “Occasionally,” she replied. “Once the plane was empty. But we have to fly anyway, because it needs to be in Kalamazoo for an early flight the next day.” So, for the price of a commercial ticket, I had a private flight with a personal flight attendant. To realize a positive outcome: have a plan, be realistic, and make the most of it. Click To Tweet

The Captian’s Final Flight: Another time, while anxiously waiting for my flight to Chicago—where I had a tight 40 minutes connection—there was an announcement of a delay: 30 minutes, then an hour, then more. Finally, two hours past the scheduled departure, we had boarded and were ready to taxi.

Then an unusual announcement has made. This was to be the captain’s final flight for the airline, as he was retiring after 22 years of service. To celebrate, several members of his family were on the plane with him. As was tradition in these cases, we would taxi past two fire trucks, which would spray a canopy of water over and on the plane. As we proceeded, parallel to the terminal, I noticed the windows lined with airline personnel, waving their goodbyes. Soon, passengers irrepressibly began waving back.

Then came another surprise announcement, “Because this is the captain’s final flight, ground control has given us priority clearance for departure; we are next in-line for take-off.” Never before had I witnessed such a speedy departure. The runway even pointed us towards Chicago.

In seemingly no time, there was another announcement, “We have enjoyed a strong tail wind and we are getting ready to land in Chicago. Because this is the captain’s final flight, air traffic control has given us priority clearance to land.” Again it was a straight shot to the runway and we quickly landed.

Then a third unexpected announcement was made. “Because this is our captain’s final flight, ground control has given us priority to taxi to our gate.” Could it be, I wondered as I glanced at my watch. My connecting flight left on time—and I was on it!

Taking a Taxi Instead: For my final story, I was traveling with two co-workers. We were headed home, again connecting in Chicago. It was winter and we landed only to learn that our flight home, the last one of the day, was cancelled due to weather.

As the more savvy travelers snapped up all the rental cars, we sought other options; alas, the only one was to spend the night in Chicago and fly home the next day. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I anticipated sleeping in my own bed that night and anything else would be second-rate.

Plus one of my associates was ill and the other was beginning her vacation the next morning with an early fight out for a cruise. If we delayed until the next day, she would miss her departing flight and part of the cruise. There were no more flights, no buses, and no rental cars.

We were 150 miles from home. It was a desperate time. Outside, a city employee was orchestrating cab rides. “What would be the possibility of getting a cabbie to take us to Kalamazoo, Michigan?” I inquired. “We really need to get home tonight,” I desperately added.

Glancing at our discouraged and tired faces, she responded positively, “Let me find you a good ride.” After putting local fares in the next five cabs, a nice new cab, with a competent looking driver, pulled up. “This is your cab,” she smiled, with a grand wave towards our coach. She had a preliminary discussion with the now bewildered cabbie. Once I assured him that I could provide directions, we were off. Four hours later he dropped us off at the Kalamazoo airport. I paid the 380 dollars fare and we each headed home. Later the airline refunded our unused tickets, so the net cost of our 150 mile cab ride was only 30 dollars.

What I’ve Learned about Travel

Although there were other stories I could have shared—remember I don’t like to fly—I picked these for a reason. Each one is positive: a private flight, a priority trip, and an accommodating cabbie. These represent the perspective I attempt to adopt when I fly. I call it travel mode. To successfully travel, I need to be in travel mode. There are three aspects to it:

Have a plan: If you don’t have a plan to occupy the idle time when you fly, you will be bored and irritable. My plan starts with magazines to read. I don’t take ones I want to keep, as each one gets thrown away when it is finished, making my load a little lighter. Magazines are for sitting in gates, standing in line, and before take off. Naturally, there are crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazines to occupy the actual flight. Movies, another favorite pastime, are a welcome offering on longer flights. Plus there is the added benefit of the more objectionable material being edited out of the film. Finally, there are the rewards I give myself at each hub airport: food; frozen yogurt or popcorn are much anticipated treats. My plan beneficially fills my travel time.

Be realistic: I used to have the expectation that an airline schedule was an accurate representation of what would happen. The fact that airlines begin padding their schedules to boast a higher on-time arrival, did little to erase my frequent disappointment. Then I realized that a more reasonable attitude was to assume the plane would be late and to rejoice with an on-time or early arrival. Here’s why. Let’s say a trip has two flights there and two flights back. If one flight is late, do your remember the three that were on time? No, you dwell on the one that was late. Now look at it mathematically. Assume that each flight has an on-time arrival of 70 percent. That means that for the two flights to get to your destination, you only have a 49 percent chance that both flights will be on time. To include your return flights, you only have a 24 percent chance of all four planes being on time. And if you have three flights (two hubs) in each direction, your odds of all six being on time drop to 11 percent. With proper and realistic expectations, your chances of being disappointed are greatly reduced. This isn’t optimism versus pessimism; it’s realism.

Make the most of it: Is business travel something to be endured or an experience to be relished? If your perspective is one of tolerance, then you will gravitate towards the negative. If your perspective is one of adventure (I’m not quite there yet), then you will remember the positive—like I have done with my three stories. And there are many more. You meet people by chance whom you will never see again, yet a lasting impression is made. A simple kindness to another traveler uplifts one’s spirit. Even spending time to check out the airport architecture or infrastructure is not without its rewards.

I have just shared my prescription for travel, the perspective I need for a successful trip. However, this can be applied to any task or endeavor to realize a positive outcome: have a plan, be realistic, and make the most of it.

Peter DeHaan is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

Strategic Thinking: Making Yourself More Valuable to Management

By Jill J. Johnson

The management of your company is facing a wide range of pressures due to the uncertainty and complexity of today’s volatile business climate. Given this complexity, you have many opportunities to make yourself more value to them by the work you do, the ideas you generate, and the insight you can provide them. If you begin to start approaching your work with a strategic mindset, you will not only elevate your own strategic thinking in these areas, but you will also become significantly more valuable to them.

Identify the Strategic Information Management Needs from You: Management is typically evaluated on business growth and profitability. Identify what they base their decisions on in their role. Think about the strategic information they need to confidently make those decisions. Consider the decisions those they report to need to make as well. Then determine what you can do to more effectively link your daily work with their decision-making processes, needs, and concerns.

Do some homework to make sure you understand the important management issues in their leadership roles and their key responsibilities. This will help you to identify where your role intersects or connects with their issues, concerns, and responsibilities. By understanding what these are, you will be better able to maximize what you do and provide information to meet their needs. Your efforts will enable them to become more valuable to the people they report to as well. Make yourself more valuable by the work you do, the ideas you generate, and the insight you can provide. Click To Tweet

Align your thinking with their goals. How can you help them address their concerns? What do they need from you? How can you add value? Can you offer suggestions for improving productivity or profitability? Can you identify new opportunities to expand sales opportunities?

There are many ways for you to make sure you understand the key strategies of your organization. Read articles quoting the top executives from your company. Look at your company’s annual report or review your entire company website to gain more perspective. Read articles in your industry-focused publications. As you better understand the business issues, you will gain clearer insight on how to link those strategic issues directly to your role and responsibilities.

Incorporate this strategic thinking into how you engage in your job responsibilities each day. Be alert to identifying emerging opportunities to improve problem solving, expanding networks, increasing earnings, enhancing job satisfaction or increasing productivity. Look for revenue implications, customer retention or areas of community impact. The opportunities for you to strategically impact are all around you.

Use Your Knowledge to Provide Strategic Insight: In your role, you likely have access to valuable information that you either currently provide to management or that you could share with them. You might be directly interacting with your customers or are you work in a key area of delivering your company’s services or manufacturing their products. Often those closest to these areas have the best ideas to improve productivity or increase profitability. Taking a more proactive approach to incorporating strategic thinking into your job will help you transform your role into a valuable business resource to them.

Provide management with insight not just information. Information is not enough anymore. You need to incorporate your value-add of interpretation and recommendations to what you provide them. Insight can be a game changer to build your relationship with management. You can provide management with significant value if you focus on how you can help them achieve corporate goals or address challenging business issues. This will position you as a “value” center, not just a “cost” center for your wage or salary.

Identify opportunities for your company to optimize the available assets they have already invested in. These investments could include people, buildings or equipment. Consider how you can optimize the work you do and the assets you are directly responsible for managing or using. Pay close attention to the touch points your role impacts on the key metrics for your company. Where do you impact sales, profit margin, return on investment, return on assets, etc.? If you don’t understand these terms, learn more about them.

To make yourself more valuable to management, you need to know what makes money for your company and how your role fits into making money for the enterprise. This insight will help you tie yourself to the company’s business priorities. Focus on how your role aligns with achieving overall corporate objectives and creates a positive impact on revenue growth or overall bottom-line profit. The better you understand these concepts, the easier it will be for you to position yourself as a strategic resource.

Communicate Your Strategic Value in Their Language: Always position your ideas and recommendations to them in the language they use. If they frequently use the words “return on investment (ROI)” or “profitability” be sure your ideas always include a reference to how it will impact ROI or company profits. If they talk about “target markets” or “employee engagement” then you should do the same.

Communication with your managers should be short, simple and to the point. They will ask you for more details if they are interested or confused. It is critical to have done exceptional preparation on the insight you prepare for them.

Make sure your data and information is accurate. This allows you to be perceived as credible and trustworthy. This is essential if you provide them with ideas requiring the investment of time, money or other resources to complete the implementation. They must be confident they can trust what you provide them withonce burned, you will not have another chance to re-establish their trust.

Final Thoughts:Thinking strategically is a skillset that you need to actively work at trying to improve. Find resources to help you learn and practice your critical thinking skills. By spending time on thinking strategically, it will become naturally ingrained into how you conduct your work. This will make you exceptionally more valuable to management. Then you will be on the path to becoming a manager or executive yourself!

Jill Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the forthcoming Bold Questions series. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.