Here's how you can win the workplaceBY CHERYL NG
If you think you are equipped with all the skills that are required for the workplace today, think again. There are thousands of new graduates each year with the same set of qualifications or better.
How can you differentiate yourself? This is the same question that we often ask our clients. In the business context, it is important to differentiate your products or services from your competitors to create preference for your brand. Likewise, as an employee, it is equally important for you to stand out from the thousands of graduates out there in order to get ahead in your career.
In the modern workplace, more employers are looking at the quality of the employees. This begins in the early stage of the recruitment process where employers are focusing on the quality of hire; getting the right people to do the right things the right way to support the company’s strategic objectives.
According to a paper put up by SuccessFactors, modern employers are focusing on the business value associated with hires rather than just increasing the number of requisitions and reducing time-to-fill. There is a shift in recruiting’s focus from hiring efficiency to an emphasis on staffing effectiveness1. Employers these days are working towards succession planning and management.
The quality of an employee may comprise of his or her competencies and attributes. Competencies describe the behaviours that the employee is expected to display on the job whereas attributes are the characteristics of the employee which include academic qualifications, job experience, aptitude and attitude2.
As a B2B brand strategy consulting firm, we are constantly seeking like-minded people who possess the right attributes for the job. It is relatively easy to identify the skills and experience from the applicant’s CV.
But to identify whether the applicant possesses the right attitude may not be that straightforward. So what kind of attitude are we looking for? We would love to have someone who is willing to learn, responsible, positive and committed to his/her work.
For employees who possess relatively the same set of qualifications and skills, we give more opportunities to the one who displays a better and positive attitude. Why? Because we are more likely to groom that employee for the succession of our business.
In the article “Excuse Me, Are You A Brand Consultant?”, our principal consultant Jacky Tai, also highlighted that the most important attribute to be a successful consultant is to have the right attitude. If you have a lousy attitude, you will not get far.
This is true. More often than not, we manage employees out of the firm because of their less-than-desired attitude even though they are extremely smart and competent. We found the same applies to other organisations which we have informally spoken to.
Furthermore, at the National University of Singapore Global Talent Forum held on 31 October 2011, senior executives from Google, Tata Consultancy, Kelly Services and IBM reiterated that more often than not, companies hire because of a person's aptitude and fire because of poor attitude.
To excel in any career, besides having the right attitude, you need to constantly upgrade yourself with the latest information, skills and knowledge in order to stay competitive. Most organisations are more than willing to invest in training and developing the career of any individual whom they have singled out as part of their succession planning.
So even if you don’t start off with a degree from Harvard University, you will still be given a chance to move up if you continue to maintain the right attitude.
In contrast, even if you have an MBA from a top school and some working experience in a well-known MNC, you may not necessarily excel if you have a negative attitude. Just ask yourself this: "If you are putting together a team to help you achieve something, would you pick someone with a negative attitude?" Probably not. So, if you have a lousy attitude, why would the company promote you?
In short, once you have a clear idea of the career path you are heading to, implement your personal differentiation strategy; stay focused, adopt a positive attitude and you can brand yourself for success.
1 “Get the Right People: 9 Critical Design Questions for Securing and Keeping the Best Hires” by Steven Hunt & Susan Van Klink, SuccessFactors/Whitepaper, p. 3.
2 “Get the Right People: 9 Critical Design Questions for Securing and Keeping the Best Hires” by Steven Hunt & Susan Van Klink, SuccessFactors/Whitepaper, p.9.
Cheryl Ng is the Administrative Manager of StrategiCom (www.strategicom.com) – a brand strategy specialist that focuses on helping B2B companies differentiate themselves properly to gain an unfair competitive advantage in their key markets. Headquartered in Singapore, StrategiCom has offices in 12 countries and 110 consultants and researchers. Cheryl has a Bachelor's Degree in Business from Monash University and oversees the operations and HR functions in StrategiCom. She can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.