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As brief, to the point, and inspiring as his previous best-selling titles, Nelsons commonsense advice can be applied to any situation, from the mailroom to the boardroom, and is illustrated with a wide array of examples and anecdotes from real life. Helping readers tap into their own intelligence, resourcefulness, and pride, Nelson demonstrates how acts of initiative both big and small can make an enormous difference in the way an employee is viewed--and rewarded--by his or her boss; he also shows how the effects of those actions benefit the entire organization. It's a perfect first day on the job book; a useful resource for any HR department; and a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to learn more and go farther in a job, in a career, and in life.
Introduction: A Message Whose Time Has Come
Like many people, I held some interesting jobs as a teenager and in college. I had a job assembling bicycles (I was fired). I sold dictionaries door-to-door. I once spent a summer collecting unpaid tickets for a beauty pageant, ordered from sweet-talking contestants by middle-aged men who never intended to actually go. I've worked as a math tutor, a bookstore receiving clerk, a 7-Eleven cashier, and a summer camp Boy Scout counselor. I've done yard work and maintenance work for room and board to help get through college.
Most of these jobs were mundane to the point of being boring. They seemed to me at the time to have in common only the fact that they were each menial, minimum-wage jobs.
I learned later that I was wrong. Each of these jobs offered valuable lessons and opportunities that I ignored -- lessons I've since learned could be obtained in any job, at any level!
Take, for example, my job at 7-Eleven. I felt I was a good employee. I did what I was told to do and what I felt was expected in my job, which seemed to consist primarily of standing behind the cash register, waiting to ring up customer purchases.
One day, however, I was standing behind the cash register talking with another employee when the regional manager walked in the door. He glanced around the store for a moment, then motioned for me to come with him down one of the aisles. Without saying a word, he started to front merchandise, that is, to move up inventory to replace products that had been purchased.
He then walked to the food preparation area, wiped down the counter, and emptied a full trash receptacle.
I observed all of this with curiosity, and it slowly dawned on me that he expected me to do all the things he was doing! This came as a complete surprise to me, not because any of the tasks he was doing was new (I had done them all before; for example, I would mop the floor and empty the trash every day before my shift was done), but because the assumption was that I needed to be doing these tasks all the time!
Well, nobody had ever explicitly told me this before! And even now it was unstated.
In that unspoken moment, I learned a lesson about the world of work that would serve me for the rest of my life -- a lesson that not only made me a better employee, but also allowed me to get more out of every job and work experience from that moment forward.
The lesson was that I needed to be responsible for my own work. I needed to accept a higher level of ownership for my job in which I held myself personally accountable for my actions. In short, I needed to focus on what needed to be done and not wait to be told what to do.
Once I grasped this lesson, jobs I had found mundane became much more fun and exciting to me. The more I focused on what I could do in the job, the more I was able to learn and accomplish.
I left the 7-Eleven job to go to college, but I took something from that experience that shaped my life and career in a profound way. I went from being a bystander to taking charge of my work experiences. Class projects became more interesting, part-time jobs and internships became opportunities to explore entire professions, and entry-level positions became portals for unprecedented opportunity and growth.
As I advanced to higher positions as a manager and executive, I always tried to find opportunities to do what needed to be done. In fact, in every job, at every level, I saw chances to excel and make a difference -- not just for my employer, but for myself as well.
I came to the conclusion that every employee in every job needs to hear and believe this fundamental message: You can start to make a difference with your life today, in the job you currently hold, not the ideal job you hope you might hold someday in the distant future.
In the following pages, you'll gain further insight into how to take charge of your job, your career, and your life.
Our journey starts with an imaginary letter to new employees I call "The Ultimate Expectation."
Copyright © 2001 Bob Nelson
|A Message Whose Time Has Come||1|
|Part 2||The Ultimate Expectation|
|Do What Needs to Be Done||7|
|Part 3||Simple Strategies and Techniques|
|Ways to Get Started Now||15|
|Think--What Needs to Be Done?||17|
|Make Your Job More Difficult||18|
|Think How Things Could Be Improved||20|
|Develop a Reputation for Being the Office Cheapskate||22|
|Ask Silly Questions||24|
|Turn Needs Into Opportunities||26|
|Caution: Don't Be a Complainer||28|
|Prepare--Do Your Homework||29|
|Learn What You Don't Know First||30|
|Collect Your Own Data||32|
|Develop Options and a Plan of Action||35|
|Shoot Holes in Your Own Plan||37|
|Realize No One Cares about Your Ideas||39|
|Caution: Don't Play Games at Work||42|
|Act--Do Something Different Now||43|
|Speak Up to Have Influence!||44|
|Volunteer for Difficult Assignments||45|
|Greet Challenges with Creativity||47|
|Look for the Positive in Problems||49|
|Be a Person Who Makes Things Happen||52|
|Caution: Take Responsibility for Your Actions (and Inactions)||55|
|Persevere--Don't Give Up Easily||57|
|Regroup When Your Ideas Meet Resistance||58|
|Don't Trust Your Manager's Open Door||60|
|Persist When Obstacles Arise||62|
|Do the Same Thing Differently||64|
|Learn to Enjoy Those Things That Others Hate to Do||66|
|Caution: Avoid the "Blame Game"||68|
|Part 4||Common Concerns|
|What Holds Us Back||73|
|"I might make a mistake."||75|
|"What needs to be done is not easy."||77|
|"I'm afraid of being fired."||78|
|"I don't have the authority."||81|
|"I don't have the support."||83|
|"I don't have the skills."||85|
|"I took initiative once and made a mistake."||87|
|"Someone keeps blocking my efforts."||89|
|"I constantly fail when I try to take initiative."||91|
|Part 5||In Conclusion--the Ultimate Reward|
|Realize Your Potential||93|
Posted September 17, 2007
Corporate employees must contend with downsizing, scarce jobs and scarcer benefits. In today¿s virtual corporations, a handful of employees do the work that many people used to do. To survive, make yourself an irreplaceable employee. That¿s the short, sweet, familiar point (and the only message, given the book¿s brevity) that Bob Nelson conveys in this simple but clear manual for long-term employment survival. Take the initiative, assume responsibility, know your job better than anybody else and fulfill your supervisor¿s expectations ¿ even the unspoken ones. Become indispensable: it¿s here in a nutshell. We find that Nelson provides valuable tips on being a proactive employee and, for fun, illustrates them with some bright little stories.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 24, 2001
Bob Nelson has done it again! This popular, best-selling author of such books as '1001 Ways to Reward Employees' and '1001Ways to Take Initiative at Work' has created another valuable tool for the corporate world. This book is not written for management, though it would be wise for managers to read it. The readers will be employees, who will absorb a meaningful message about their role in the work environment. It's a vital message that most employees never hear. The audience that will benefit most is new employees. In fact, it would be a good reading for high school and college seniors about to embark on their careers. The core of Nelson's message is that employees have responsibilities and opportunities far beyond what's delineated in their job description. Each and every worker should use his/her own best judgment and effort to do what needs to be done for the organization to be successful. The book presents this concept as the 'Ultimate Expectation'-a message every employee needs to hear, but one that few employers explicitly state. Employers are eager to have people on their team who take initiative, to take independent action to do what needs to be done for the organization to succeed. Why is this kind of worker so scarce? Because management has not conveyed to its employees that they are expected to take initiative; they don't have to wait to be told what to do. This message will resonate well with today's younger employees . . . if they're given permission or encouraged. Managers who don't know how to express or reinforce this concept now have a tool with this book. After an introduction to the concept and an explanation of the 'Ultimate Expectation,' Nelson presents Simple Strategies and Techniques.' To give you a sense for the straightforward content of this book, here are some of the topics under the headings Think, Act, and Persevere. Under Think: Make Your Job More Difficult, Ask Silly Questions, and Don't Be a Complainer. Under Prepare, topics include Collect Your Own Data, Develop Options and a Plan of Action, and Shoot Holes in Your Own Plan. Under Act, topics include Speak Up to Have Influence, Volunteer for Difficult Assignments, and Be a Person Who Makes Things Happen. The section on Persevere includes Persist When Obstacles Arise, and Learn to Enjoy Those Things That Others Hate to Do. The next section of the book addresses what holds us back from high achievement: fear, frustration, and failure. Fear includes 'I might make a mistake' and 'I'm afraid of being fired.' Frustration includes 'I don't have the authority' and 'I don't have the support.' 'I took initiative once and made a mistake' and 'Someone keeps blocking my efforts' comprise part of the Failure section. A concluding chapter encourages readers to realize their potential. The book is deceivingly small, with wide margins and extra space between lines. The open format is wisely less intimidating for the reader, making the book easy to use. That's a good selling point for this kind of a volume, which is useless if it isn't read. Buy this book now for your employees. Include it in the materials given to new hires in the orientation process. Grab the advantage over your competition by using this book to stimulate initiative and high performance. It pays!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.