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Find your voice at work March 4, 2013

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Uncategorized.
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How do you find that unique quality that will take you to the next level? Writers, singers, and speakers often talk about finding your voice. Voice is that special thing that differentiates you. One of the judges on the hit TV show The Voice once said, “I am listening for something unique.” He means someone who has skills and talent, but has found something defining. In professions we also have a defining quality, a Voice. But how do you find it?

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Thanks to Grant@http://www.flickr.com/people/visual_dichotomy/

Professionals tend to develop along a predictable course. They start as novices. Then they gain skills and expose talents. As these skills and talents develop they slowly move from apprentice to journeyman skill level. As journeymen, they start to specialize. These specialities are what I would call their professional Voice.

To develop your Voice you need to experience. There is no shortcut to development. Shortcuts are invariably routes that lead only back to the beginning. Here are some suggestions to help you find you profession Voice:

1. Go with the flow
Chase whatever your boss puts in front of you as hard as you can. A good boss is invaluable to developing your Voice for three reasons:
A. It is their job to make the best use of you.
Their broader experience and different perspective helps them identify where your skills are maximized. You may say that he gives you difficult stuff to do. What you don’t know is that others find that task impossible. Over time, that impossible task becomes easy to you, and bang, you have a specialization.
B. It is their job to broaden you.
A good boss is always looking for additional skills and options for their people. Thus, they will have you try new things and see where you excel.
C. It is their job to keep you engaged.
Ultimately keeping a good employee is priority number one. Yes, your boss may stretch you with new experiences. He may use you to achieve the tasks you are good at. But what he’s really looking for is what do you love. If he can find something that you are good at and love, he’s found something special.
2. Ask for responsibility
The biggest mistake young employees make is in pursuing money. Money always follows responsibility. Bosses who don’t take care of their highly responsible employees have problems because they cannot retain them. I won’t go as far as to say that you should never ask for money, but it’s very close to never.
Ask for responsibility. It changes your manager’s focus from managing you to developing you. It increases their trust. Additional responsibility of any type can help develop your personal skill-set.
3. Self Examine and create a strategy for weaknesses
In the end, you have to assess your own experiences. Your boss can be a great sounding board, but you really need to look at yourself. What is the personal skill set you bring to the table? Where are you weak? How do you deal with those weaknesses. Can you train them? Can you avoid them? What work roles fit you best? If you are strong in leadership but poor in details, you may be more suited for a managerial position. If you hate politics but love to see results you may find the individual contributor roles more to your liking. Keep in mind, that manager or contributor, highly skilled people are well paid and can lead. Don’t take the manager path, if your Voice is in contribution.

4. Self Examine and seek experiences that sharpen your key skills and broaden your skill base.
Ultimately your Voice is more about what you are strong in than what you are weak in. That is what will define your career. Once you’ve determined your strengths, make them stronger. You can do this through experience and training in strength areas. Don’t just do the work. That is easy and will not let you grow. You need to analyze it and figure out what you can do better.
Also, broaden your skill sets on the edges. If one part of your professional voice is you are great at keeping disgruntled clients from escalating. The next step may be to become great at turning them around and making them happy. Perhaps, it’s about how to keep disgruntled peers from blowing up. Search the edges of your skill-set for other things you can develop.

As your Voice develops you will find that senior staff and your managers rely on you more and give you more leeway in your specialty. That is the reward of finding your special Voice. Freedom.


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Comments»

1. thefieldgeneral - March 5, 2013

What do you think your Voice is? Mine is leadership.

2. C.knitter - March 6, 2013

Good advice. My favorite part is Freedom.

thefieldgeneral - March 6, 2013

Thanks. Appreciate the comment


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