Expert Alumni

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In Praise of Being Specific

Having recently made the transition from working (for 14 years) in an organisation to working for myself – often from home; it is interesting to me how specific and organised virtual or remote workers have to be about their work. When I work with my clients it is an imperative to identify the specific deliverables and timescales in our projects together – and as long as I meet those requirements – I have earned my fee, I am happy and so are they. I wish I could have operated like that when I was employed.

This didn’t occur to me until recently but looking back at being an employee, everything about my role was all rather vague. I had a job description and two line managers and targets – I had one-to-one meetings every month – but no-one really knew specifically how the organisation wanted me to reach those targets, what my exact deliverables were and indeed when they could and should be delivered. This was a problem because I sold academic competence. I had all the responsibility for meeting the sales targets but no authority to align the human and other resources.

In my frustration, I realised I had to come up with a solution on my own. There was a business plan containing my “financial targets”. Pound signs and numbers, and I figured out that if I asked what I was being incentivised to sell, I would get an answer that would then logically enable me to align the resources I needed. So I asked both my line managers what they wanted me to sell to get my bonus? Seemed like a simple question to me, but when I didn’t get an answer, I emailed the HR department – and they couldn’t tell me either!

Oh dear, that email got me into big trouble. It caused one of my Line Managers to a) Shout a lot and bang the table with his fist, b) double everyone’s financial targets, c) introduce a 22 page competence framework – and d) impose some awful sales training. But still, no-one was being SPECIFIC about what areas I (we) should concentrate on – I was not alone, my fellow BDM’s were equally frustrated. As time went on, working without enough clarity became a real problem – when the opportunity to take voluntary severance arose – I took it.

For the past twelve months, having returned from a long holiday on the beach – funded by my generous severance package; I have been running my own Sales and Marketing business. It is so different – I don’t allow any lack of focus to happen. For me it is all about tangible results, making sure the client is happy, maximising my time and income.

Funnily enough, one of my clients is my previous employer – they are using me because they know I am good! However, now we work differently – with specific agreed outcomes and a contract…..and they are getting the results they have asked for and I am loving it.

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