At Work

Marketing diligence

It may be great for someone to be referred to as “IT savvy or adept at working the social network, but what about being diligent? In the realm of employable resources, is diligence moving towards being archaic?

I have always disagreed when my friend tells me that there are only five original stories in this world. Obviously this is a saying used to console a poor soul who may be fraught with problems in his life and walking around with that “why God, why me?” expression.

If I have to interpret this, it would be to give the meaning of originality a knock whether in relation to problems, ideas, stories or even characters. And if it were used to console someone then it would mean: you are not alone and that many others would have encountered the same problems as you.

Recently, I noticed that there could be some truth to this old saying as I look at how groups of people or communities are formed.

After having dealt with thousands of employees and employers in so many companies, I have come to realise the structure in each group of employees is similar regardless of which company they are from.

There will always be those who naturally display leadership qualities, those who are extrovert and loud but not much of a doer, some whose noticeable strengths are being at the heel of the bosses and also the few who are none of the above but always diligently doing more than their share whether it’s ploughing through research data or carrying boxes of water and stationery.

Now, the latter is what some of us dealing with human resource tend to take for granted. They can be there for years without being picked to lead a team or coordinate a project and yet somehow are always there to take care of things so that the environment is trouble free for the main job to be carried out.

Small role

When I was building a training resort, I met a Japanese woman whom I commissioned to help to set up the kitchen and make small recycled rugs and knick knacks to decorate one of the rooms. Her role was fairly small compared to that of my contractor, designers and architect.

After telling her broadly my concept for the interior decoration I left her alone and attended to the larger issues.

It wasn’t until I saw the big and small patchwork rugs being laid out on the floor that I realised how much her role had contributed to the look of the place.

It was immediately obvious that they were not just another piece of patchwork from recycled material. Old t-shirts were tiresomely cut out, the spines twisted and made into indoor slippers while the soft parts were sewn into foot rugs. The thinner pieces of worn out t-shirt materials were woven into pot holders and coasters.

As she was also responsible for making curtains, cushion covers and other ornaments from recycled materials for one of the rooms, she had meticulously designed and collected materials to create the look that was intended.

Every stitch out of place was undone and corrected. The measurements were carefully taken and rationalised before putting scissors to cloth. It was a small job but the diligence put into every item sewn certainly caught my attention and I would have liked to hire someone with her kind of diligence for my company.

A diligent employee takes on tasks that are unglamorous and does not shirk from challenges in a job.

He may not be doing it wisely to save energy or time but he never says no. Diligence also helps to cultivate a dogged attitude towards pursuing goals.

In fact, it has been tossed about by experts in the management arena that a diligent person rarely regards anything as i mpossible. However, it is unfortunate that diligence is hardly a word used to describe the employee of today.

The trend is for an employee to be IT savvy, adept with social networking, confident, a good communicator but never ever does the word “diligent” come up.

What happens if you find that you fit this description — just a diligent worker?

Do you just fade away into the background and be resigned to the fact that you will just be contented being the one handling all the mundane tasks without any chance of moving up the ladder?

I should say not, because even though being diligent is not written on the list of criteria for hiring it is a quality that impresses employers.

The quality of working hard is a reliable factor that employers can depend on when the time calls for the organisation to persevere.

In fact, there is recent debate that creative work is borne more out of diligence than inspiration. I saw a write-up on the Internet and feel inclined to agree with it.

Keeping it open

A good piece of creative work, whether it’s an essay, a music composition or a painting is not achieved at the first stroke. It takes pains in working and reworking to perfect it so as to achieve the desired master-piece. In the same light, talent builds a company up but diligence keeps it there.

If you find yourself in this category of just being diligent, I think you will need some amount of dressing up. You need to get noticed, and for that, you need to connect with your supervisors. Here’s what I would do;

● Once in awhile you need to speak up to show you are still part of the team. You can ask questions of someone’s area of work during meetings, or try to have an opinion of what you have been asked to undertake. It doesn’t matter whether the boss accepts it or not, it just shows you are interested.

● Be the king of your own castle. If the task that you do is not glamorous but essential to support a system, you have to try and constantly be on top of things improving it for the better for the organisation’s productivity and growth. Show that even though you are diligently doing one job, you do it well with details and progress.

● Market your intentions. Help your superiors keep abreast with developments in your field whether it’s a new equipment, software, trends in the market by sending him a note or a link about new developments.

Here’s something to chew on: “Talent and good luck may open doors, but diligence will keep the door open”.

Extracted from 'Workable Tips' by Paul Kam

Paul Kam is a Kuala Lumpur-based managing director to a HR consulting and training organisation, with over 16 years in consulting, training and advisory experience throughout Asia. He also serves as a director to several companies in various sectors. He has worked extensively with both private and public sector leaders throughout Asia and has designed and led several transformation, alignment and strategic change initiatives. Paul is a qualified advocate and solicitor is also a member of the Malaysian Institute of Management. He is also a certified team profiler and life and wealth coach.