How To Become The Chief Executive-Of Your Own Job

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Staying on top of your job and career is no easy task these days. By becoming CEO of your own job, you take 100% responsibility for what you do, how well you do it, and what results you produce. You don't rely on "they" to take care of you, to make your job interesting, or to protect your future. You empower yourself to maintain focus, produce results, reduce job stress, develop your skills, and shape your future.

Acting as the CEO of your own job enables you to work for yourself and your credit union at the same time. It helps you develop work values, skills, and practices that are not only useful in your present work situation but also are transferable to other work situations. This enables you to rise above uncertainty and develop your own security in a changing, demanding business world.

Becoming CEO of your own job involves developing a three-pronged plan for yourself that includes:

Your Career Plan: Your career plan gives you clarity about where you are and where you are going. Without a career plan, you end up putting in time, collecting a paycheck, feeling overwhelmed, and waiting for somebody, somewhere to do something about making things better.

Your career plan should include two behaviors that become part of business as usual for you: staying above the line and learning like crazy. Staying above the line means staying accountable; falling below the line means relinquishing your personal responsibility. Below-the-liners make excuses, drag their feet, find fault with new ideas. Above-the-liners see life differently. They see what needs to be done, take ownership for situations and find solutions.

In addition to staying above the line, you need to learn like crazy. The credit union world, just as the rest of the business world, is changing and the only way to change with it is to keep learning. Thus, you need to remain curious, seek information, and associate with the best. Think about how kids learn: they try new things, experiment, make mistakes, take risks, and move forward. Let the kid in you out-be willing to explore and experiment. Seek information about everything-your job, other people's jobs, your credit union, the financial industry, and other people.

Your Work Plan: Your work plan focuses on where you are and what you're doing right now. Whether your current job is the one you want or a stepping stone, how you perform in it shapes your future. Your performance not only affects your own self-esteem, it is observed by others. As credit unions change, they are keeping their eyes out for high performers who can fit into the changes.

Your work plan should start with finding faster, better, cheaper ways of doing your current job. No one is in a better position to make your job more interesting and productive than you; do what you can to eliminate inefficiencies and frustrations. Remember, you weren't just hired to do a job; you were hired to figure out ways to do it better and to help your credit union be more successful.

It's also useful to look at your job horizontally; that is, examine how it is connected to the rest of your credit union. Escape the silo mentality which is easy to fall into when the majority of your communications are within your department. To do this, ask the people who receive your work exactly what they need from you and how you can make their job easier. Identify the problem hand-off points in your credit union-those places when things tend to fall through the cracks and fill in those cracks. An effective work plan increases your value to your credit union and positions you to take advantage of future opportunities.

Your People Plan: Your people plan helps you develop mutually beneficial relationships with the people you work for and with. Your relationships with others can either make or break your day, your job, and your career. Your people plan should include how you are going to demonstrate your integrity and credibility as well as how you'll bring out the best in others and yourself. Your integrity and credibility come from your trustworthiness. Can others count on you to do what you're suppose to do when you're suppose to do it in the best way possible? Can others count on the day being better, the project going more smoothly, or the members being more satisfied when you're involved? If the answer is "yes," you have credibility; if the answer is "no," you have some work to do.

Part of doing your job well means becoming proficient at bringing out the best in others. Listening closely and responding appropriately makes people feel important, prevents problems from escalating, and provides opportunities for improvement.

You also want to develop strong relationships with people who can bring out the best in you. You need people to turn to when you need a boost, a sounding board, or a barrier buster.

There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who let things happen, and those who wonder what happened. Don't be one of those who just let things happen or wonder what happened. Make good things happen for yourself and your credit union by developing a career plan, a work plan, and a people plan.

Barbara Wirtz, M.Ed., is a conference speaker, retreat facilitator, and corporate trainer with extensive CU experience. She can be reached at (541) 344-8213, bwirtz

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