As a blogger who writes about technology for a living, I know firsthand that it’s tough to find inspiration in a cubicle. What helps is having a list or set of guidelines to remind me how to get back into that headspace where I’m producing creative work. Tacked up in my cubicle, along with my rubber tree plant and a colorful set of matryoshka, I have a list of rules I found online that originated in the Immaculate Heart College Art Department. While these are geared more towards visual artists, they have been immensely helpful in reminding me where I can find inspiration.
It is easy to see how a writer can take to heart rules like “Read anything you can get your hands on” and “nothing is a mistake”. But, with some small adjustments, this list can also apply to finding the right headspace in the business world and, more specifically, the telecom industry. When you are stuck in a rut, it helps to have a reference that you can lift up your head and take something from.
- Find a place you trust and try trusting it for a while.
After years in the business world, you have developed an intuition about the choices you will have to make. Do I invest in this lead generation service to help my business? Should I invest in this new voice technology? Is this sale going to go through, or will I bend over backwards to entertain a prospective lead who isn’t actually interested? Is this marketing campaign the best idea for my company’s image or brand?
You know the answer to these questions, so trust the intuition that you have developed. Still shaky? It always helps to have a supervisor or mentor whom you trust to can give you a second opinion. Two minds are better than one, but don’t let too many opinions crowd out the voice in your head. Trust that voice.
2. Duties of an employee: Pull everything out of your managers. Pull everything out of your coworkers.
Your manager has been here longer than you, or, has gained valued different experiences elsewhere in the telecommunications or contact center industry. If you have a question, don’t hold back for fear of looking foolish or being reprimanded.
The more informed you are about everything in your business life-- from social business codes like what is appropriate at business happy hours or how much time does everyone actually take for their lunch break, to trade secrets like how to best close a sale or how many posts a day to make in social media marketing campaigns, to general company knowledge like what your product or service actually does and how a customer is going to use it-- the better an employee will be.
Asking questions will show your manager that you are interested and invested in the company, and gives you an opportunity to connect with them personally. Come time to head a new project or be considered for a promotion, you will be remembered.
Pull everything out of your coworkers. If they are not specifically willing to divulge their trade secrets, you can still gain vast experience by watching how they interact with leads or clients and integrating the best of what they do into your business practices.
Following best business practices, you and your coworkers should work as a team to best serve your customer base. Part of this is figuring out yours and their individual strengths and weaknesses. You will be able to gain expertise in the areas where you falter, and be able to pair up with coworkers who complement (not compliment) your abilities.
As someone coming from the creative side of the industry, I often pair up with coworkers who have a better understanding of the technology we write about. I translate their explanation into a simpler format so that I can understand each point clearly, and then we work together to develop literature that best describes our software services.
3. Duties of a manager: Pull everything out of your employees.
Analyze your team; figure out how they work together the most effectively. Delegate; show your team members how to do things so that the office runs smoothly when you are out and they will learn more and have more responsibility.They will be willing to have responsibility and pride in their work.
Listen to your employees; you don’t have to be a one-person think-tank. They might have some great suggestions, some totally different from your perspective, and it will make them feel valued even if you ultimately choose not to integrate their feedback. Say yes, but don’t be afraid to say no.
4. Experiment. Consider everything a useful experience.
If your business performance has hit a plateau, it may be time for a change. Does the technology and software you use cover all your business needs? Maybe you should invest in an upgrade or look into another service provider. How do you generate leads? Are the services (like SEO services) and tools (like social media and blogging) that you use doing enough? Could they be doing more? Try a different approach. Break your own rules.
The most successful businesses get to the top by implementing ideologies and marketing campaigns that are definitely not safe. It is what makes them stand out. Innovation is what happens when taking risks pays off. And if it doesn’t, at least now you know what doesn’t work.
Experiment with being different. Experiment by taking risks. Experiment.
5. Be self-disciplined. Find someone successful and follow them. To be disciplined is to follow. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
Following this rule means to discover someone who listened to rule 4 and succeeded. It means to build your own best practices from what they have landed on. It does not mean to mimic their campaigns and technologies. It means to pay homage, and then improve upon it. Sample, do not copy in whole.
In film, director Quentin Tarantino constantly reuses techniques from spaghetti westerns, old samurai/martial arts movies, and films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Tarantino is successful because he takes elements like dialogue styles, particular camera angles, and stylized lighting, but then creatively reuses them in his own way. In business, see what your competitors and other brands are doing well. See what brands are doing well outside of your industry. This requires regular research.
Why does it work for them? Figure out how to make it work for you.
To be Continued...
Part II will be posted next week. I hope this has helped to inspire you or renew your vigor for what it is you do! There are many best practices lists and blog posts floating around the internet. It is my hope to deploy the most creative approach possible.