Personal Rebuttal: Responsibility for Self-Improvement

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After posting my last post, I began to think of the other side of the coin. I am often playing devil's advocate with myself, so I hope you don't mind my indulgence here.

In my previous post, I mentioned the necessity for management to keep an open mind when looking for employees by looking past their current position. Now, I want to say something in support of management: personal development.

As I had mentioned in my previous post as a qualifier, it is the responsibility of the employee to develop themselves and keep working at whatever position they are in. In this post, I want to delve more deeply into that subject.

Self development is more than just looking for ways to improve your knowledge and skill, it also includes improving your image. Many a well-qualified representative can lose out on advancement if it is perceived that they are not hard working, or have an attitude that can be a barrier in getting projects done.

The days of the "Prima Donna" employee are out the window. Employers are realizing that employee turn around, and in some cases counciling, is more of a cost than the results of a bad-attitude employee that performs well(As reported on NPR). Also, those well performing employees often leave the company, and do not perform well at all. This is because the support group and team surrounding the "Prima Donna" were the real strength.

So this begs the question, what does an employee do to increase their hiring potential?

First, be a great performer. This means be willing to work hard, work often, and take a hit for the team. Far beyond just doing your own job, look for ways to increase the overall productivity of the team. Management loves to see someone that goes on a limb to help a fellow employee.

Second, work on projects in addition to your own work. Don't let your own work suffer in your attempt to get a few extra points from a project. This does more harm than good. If you can succeed at both the project and your own performance, then you show that your potential is far greater than your current position.

Third, diversify your experience. Don't try to be an expert in only one area. One-trick ponies generally stagnate within a hiring pool. If you can program a web page, design it to look nice, and run the networking behind it, that's great! What's better is if you can manage the business, check marketing strategy, and analyze performance based on real numbers. The more diverse your experience is, the better your chances are for being selected for higher management positions.

Fourth, know how to interview. Often times, it all comes down to the interview process. While I don't personally agree with this philosophy, it's a reality of the corporate world. Focus on specific situations, actions, and the results. Be ready to answer the hard questions ("Is there a time when you didn't get along with anyone?") with a real answer that includes the problem, actions taken to resolve the issue, and the results.

Also, if you are asked to role-play, look for the important trends. If information is vague, assume that you are new to the team and go from there. Write down any committments you have made, and a date for follow up. Keep in mind that even if you don't think the interviewer may practice good management skills, they definitely know them when they see them. Following up is a major bonus. ^_^

Ultimately, a person's success is completely up to them. Whether or not one stays at the same job or moves on to other positions, the only thing they can take with them that is a true measure of success is what they have developed on their own. No one manager, supervisor, janitor, CEO, or even World Leader is responsible for one's success. If one can develop this ability, then advancement and success is enevitible.