The original version of this was posted on Hektechnologies in 2017 and was called Take It to the Next Level: Stop Losing to Competitors. I’ve made some changes and updates, moving the post here as this post will be helpful for knowledge workers.
In business and life, we think of others as competitors but often fail to realize we can be our own worst enemies. When you seem to be getting behind others, be it a business or another person, it could be due to them doing something better than you are. However,
However, is that what is happing?
Over the following few paragraphs, we will examine how you can ensure you are not standing in the way of your business or your success and the tactics and strategies that will take things to the next level.
Are you losing out to competitors?
Whether this is in a business sense or on a more personal level knowing the answer can mean a lot for how you choose to handle things. I can tell you, with confidence, most of us are pretty bad at managing our image and presenting our best face. This image management can include in our business. Many business owners have been disappointed to learn that their clients don’t even realize all of the services they offer.
So here are a series of questions and solutions that can help you potentially correct some problems. Each is broken down by employee vs. business approaches.
Tip # 1: Clearly Demonstrate Your Value
Clearly, demonstrating value can be challenging, especially for knowledge workers and businesses doing non-physical jobs.
When your job involves doing physical tasks, which involve repetition. Managers and bosses, and clients can easily see when things are going wrong and give guidance and correction when necessary. For example, “produce these widgets” comes ingrained with an easily measurable metric of X many widgets over some period as being the norm.
However, for the knowledge worker, “produce this software” or, more often, “fix this problem” often comes into new territory. When something new happens and has not been done before, we have very little to measure it against.
I have lost jobs and contracts due to poor predictions…
The first and best defense you have in this area is managing expectations. Make sure your predictions are not too lofty, and do your best to account for all of the things that might go wrong. It has been said that when you are making predictions about how much time something will take, the best method to use is to come up with what you think it will be and multiply that by 2 or more often 3.
I can say that my recent predictions have all worked out this way. Unexpected problems and other things get in the way of slowing down the production and threw everything off track.
Communicate Clearly (Effectively)
Another way you can ensure you are demonstrating your value is to communicate clearly. Let your client or boss know when problems arise. Be honest about what they are, and the cause, then deliver a plan to deal with the issues.
This sounds simple enough, but it is our human nature to let fear keep us from doing this as we should.
It’s the old fight or flight syndrome, except now the fear and adrenalin are misplaced. Your client is not about to eat you, and your boss is not about to kill you… It’s time to take a deep breath to think about what you are going to say. Formulate a plan and then communicate that plan.
A word of caution: often, people get tripped up on what they say, focusing on the words that they plan to have come out of their mouths. This is a huge mistake. Focusing on the plan of action will give you clarity of thought and allow you to say the proper things.
Know Your Value
You might think, “why didn’t Spencer list this first?” The thing is, I want and hope that you will remember this point. It is imperative.
This is also often the thing people have the most trouble with. I’m going to give you some basic pointers here, and later I will write a full post and link back here.
You have two robust approaches, metrics, and deliverables. You can use both or pick one based on your strengths. I used to think these were pretty much the same, but now I think each communicates something different depending on your situation.
Let me try to exemplify this:
When used correctly in marketing campaigns, metrics are a great way to demonstrate value. The trick here is to show something of value, such as client conversions from your efforts, and not what is called vanity metrics, such as visitors to a web page. The trick here is to figure out what indeed serves your client or business and make that the parameter you measure.
However, if you are the one building their website, deliverables are the apparent measure to demonstrate value. The trick here is to figure out what deliverables your client or boss cares about and ensure you are delivering.
Tip # 2: Become the Trusted Adviser
When a company or the person that supervises you have questions about the most critical issues in their business, do they seek out your opinion? Do they look for you when they need advice on the most important projects?
Becoming The Trusted Advisor to your client or boss means doing what we just talked about and positioning yourself as the authority they need…
Many people get hung up thinking it takes years of building trust before you can gain this position, but this is not true. If you manage your image as we are talking about, you instantly gain a little more trust, and you can demonstrate your knowledge and skill a little faster.
It’s important to remember when you don’t know the answer… see the person that does. Calling on someone who knows more in this situation still leaves you as The Trusted Advisor because you have pointed your boss or client in the right direction.
Jay Abraham calls this the strategy of preeminence, and I plan to write on this in the future.
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