Part of work is accepting assignments from others. There is work to be done and you are the person to do the work. Sometimes you are the best person for the work because of your skills, knowledge, and/or experience. Sometimes you are the person who has the time, you volunteered for a learning opportunity, and/or you were the closest person around when work was being handed out. No matter how you got the work, make the work yours.
In high school I worked at a local grocery store. My supervisor was a career grocery store supervisor that had to have things done his way. One night he assigned me to stock the dairy case. When he learned that I had never stocked the dairy case before, he said he would show me how. I followed him to the dairy case where he started to stock the case. He gave little instruction but I paid attention to what he was doing. I kept waiting for my chance to take over and finish but before long he was finished.
This isn’t the best example of how to assign work, but because I paid close attention to how he pulled older products forward to the front of the case, filled empty spaces where we were out of product with extra products, and faced labels to the front, I had a good idea how I would do it next time. In time I became the guy who stocked the dairy case better and faster than anyone else. I took what I observed in my supervisor’s process, modified it to work for me, and made my own process.
When I receive work, I follow these steps:
- Receive the assignment. I make sure I completely understand the result necessary to be successful. If necessary I ask follow-up questions until I fully understand.
- Learn about the existing processes. If there is an already established process, I try to understand the entire existing process.
- Determine what parts of the existing process to adopt. Sometimes I accept the entire process the first time I do the work. Sometimes there are only a few steps I think are effective. After I fully understand it, I am okay with deciding for myself what parts or the process is valuable.
- Create your own process. No matter how much of the process is original or that I create, I make the process entirely my own.
- Continue to change and improve. Every time I do work that I now own, I make some level of improvement. It may be small adjustments or I may come up with entirely new systems or something in between.
These steps apply to a single work assignment or a new job. Until I make the assignment or job entirely my version of it, I struggle with enjoying it, having job satisfaction, and/or raising the bar to doing better than before.
What work have you done to make the work your own?
What job have you been in that you didn’t feel you could make your own? Why?