Many of us become myopic in our day to day work life (I know I do). We know what needs to get done that’s right in front of us, and that’s about it.
But it’s important to have a bigger perspective. So in reminding myself of some key questions to ask, I thought I’d compile a list of good factors to keep in mind for all of us.
The below questions are those you should ask yourself –and those around you – periodically. You want to be sure you have the answers to these questions at least quarterly.
But to the extent you get in the habit of understanding what’s truly influencing your work and workplace at a higher level, you have the information to position yourself better, and be ready (and flexible) to move with the changes.
You will find great value by understanding how you and your work fit into the company, and even the industry, in which you find yourself.
Why? To the extent you understand for whom –and how– you are influencing the work, and the benefits others receive, you can better leverage your relationships, understand when you (or your job) might be at risk, and learn how to protect yourself from minor (and sometimes even major) shifts in the workplace.
In short: It benefits you to know precisely how you bring value with the work you do. And how it’s related to the people and projects that surround you.
So how do you understand the company you work for, the industry?
First, learn how you fit into a bigger organizational structure.
Take a look around you and figure out what you and your team is working on, and who is working on complementary projects. How does your work fit into the organization, and what is your potential trajectory?
Who are the power players in your organization that are affected by your work? Put yourself in a position to get to know them, and let them know about the work you do.
Who are key clients, and why are they important? Is it because they make big dollar purchases, because they are consistent, because they are long-time clients, or because they are influencers in the market?
What are major decisions that are on the horizon for your company as a whole? Are these decisions because of market factors outside the company’s control, because they want to be more competitive, changes in technology?
Next, understand the industry.
Take a look at the journals, research, or data that are read by the key players in your industry. You may do this by getting on email lists, reading blogs, watching recommended articles on LinkedIn, or simply asking your boss what she or he reads.
Watch news reports that influence your industry so you can get a sense of general trends.
Finally, understand the people.
Who in your organization is making decisions, what factors are they weighing and how are they influenced?
No workplace is static. Our organizations are changing all the time.
Take some time out from your immediate work tasks, and make sure you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your company, in your industry, and how the key people in both are reacting to the atmosphere. You’ll be glad you did!
How do you find out more about the ‘bigger picture’? I’d love to hear from you!
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.