Now that is an interesting question. Someone asked me a few weeks ago, how would I know if I am a good ____ (fill in the blank; employee, citizen, son, daughter, politician, etc.). After thinking about that my answer back was another question – what have you contributed? There are a lot of grand causes that you could focus on like feeding the children, feeding the whales, saving the trees, etc. but let’s get a little closer to home.
For example you may be a member of a family and you are living at home – so what have you contributed to the family? You may be an employee, well what have you contributed to the business? I am not talking about your job or what you are required to do. I am talking about a contribution that is beyond that of the minimum requirements. In every case I have seen so far there is an expectation that you will do a little more than the minimum requirement.
All this is great philosophy, but how can you contribute? Of course you can notice things that need doing and just do something without being asked. But what about at work? First of all, do you understand what your job is? I mean do you really understand the end goal or expectations? I would say that it is important that each contributor to the business knows the desired end result. Stephen Covey teaches to “begin with the end in mind.” Now if you want to contribute something you at least know what needs to be done.
Each person is an important piece in the overall business. Know your role and the roles of others. Ask until you really understand how you can best contribute. Once you understand your role and the roles of others you are in a position to contribute to the success of the team. Look for ways and be willing to contribute. Here are some useful ideas;
- Be responsible. If you are asked to do something, do it. If you can’t do it, say so. This will build trust.
- Listen to others without pre-judging them. This will open up communications.
- Be supportive. You don’t have to be the star all the time.
- Communicate effectively. If you have a problem, explain it, tactfully, before it becomes too big. It’s okay to let people know if you feel something isn’t right, just remember to be respectful of others feelings when you express yourself.
- Be flexible. Even if you have always done it one way, be willing to try another way.
There are many ways you can contribute to success. You don’t have to wait until you have a grand idea. You can start by picking up that gum wrapper that was dropped on the floor. Most of the time I discover that people are just not aware. They are walking around in a fog. Take the time to look around you and see what is going on. Is there someone that needs help? Perhaps there is a list of projects that need to be done somewhere.
In today’s work environment you have to become a contributor. That does not stop once you leave work. You probably have many memberships. You may be a member of a family, of a group, of a church, of a business, of a team, or any number of small groups. It is the members that contribute that are sought out. If you want your name on the top of a few lists, be aware, be visible and contribute. If you are not contributing, I will find someone that will.