Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are You Failing at Your Profession?

Whether you’re the CEO or the receptionist, you’re responsible for your professional development. And, if you’re doing the same exact job one year from now, you may be failing as a professional. In no way am I implying you have to get a promotion every year. I am saying each year it is in your best interest to have greater skills and competencies. Or increase your ability to manage greater responsibilities. If you refuse, there is a chance you may be approaching obsolescence. While this may sound extreme, I ask you to consider the following.

In a global economy, we can only
sell so many televisions or automobiles in the US. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. Most of that population is made up of second and third world countries. In most cases, those people cannot afford to buy our products and services. Therefore, the US and other first world countries help to create new markets by outsourcing jobs to those countries. In turn, that gives them higher salaries and discretionary incomes to buy from the US. That means the people in the US who held those positions will be out of work.

As wages increase in those low-income nations, some jobs may return to the US. However, with the proliferation of technology, those jobs may require greater skills and competencies. 

Some of you may say your job is not at risk. Think again. There are aspects of the legal and accounting profession that are outsourced or done on line without an attorney or accountant.

Therefore, a healthier perspective for your profession is to make yourself obsolete. At first, this sounds counterintuitive. This world is competitive and you are taught to fight for your territory.  From another viewpoint, there may be 10 tasks that only you do well. Those tasks make you a valuable asset to the enterprise. If you are wise, you can develop and delegate one or two of those tasks to another person.  As they are becoming proficient, you start developing a new set of skills and competencies for yourself. This may mean you go to your boss and request to lighten her load by taking responsibility for one of her tasks.

In other examples, if you are an accountant, develop sales skills. Sales skills can support you as a salesman or general manager. The additional skills provide you with more leverage and flexibility as a professional. If you are an IT professional, develop strong financial acumen. This could prepare you for executive positions or a seat on a board of directors. In either case, the additional skills will make you more valuable for your employer and empowers you to pursue ambitions that you may not have considered in the past.

For most, there is fear of making yourself obsolete. The implications are that you will be out of a job. On the other hand, if you are able to develop someone under you to take over parts of your job, you will have demonstrated strong leadership. If you free yourself to learn something new, you will be seen as an indispensable asset who can grow with the organization. More importantly, your professional career is less likely to be encroached upon by the increasing need to outsource. In what aspect of your profession will you make yourself obsolete this year? 

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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