I was on a panel recently for RecruitDC and the topic we were discussing revolved around positioning yourself as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your field. It was a fascinating discussion and I really enjoyed the knowledge sharing. I was honored to be able to share some of my experiences and best practices with the RecruitDC audience and to converse with some of the leading experts in my field for the D.C. Metro area. I found that I got a lot out of the experience- and wanted to share some of that with you here. Specifically I wanted to focus in on one of the questions that we discussed: What specific steps or tactics have you used to exert influence on best practice implementation? For example: changing the process based on your experiences and what you see from the front line?
I talk a lot in my blogs about setting yourself apart, becoming a SME in your field. One of the most effective ways to do that is by inserting yourself into process improvement for your organization. It is so beneficial to both you and your organization. If you see room for improvement, come up with a value added idea that you can pitch to your leadership.
We may not realize it, but those of us on the front lines of our business have a distinct advantage over our Directors, VPs, and CEOs when it comes to process improvement. They rely on intel from the front lines to run their business and ensure they are headed in the right direction. The front line is the spear used for driving their business forward. It’s also the best defense against potential pitfalls in their business and can act as an early warning system. So it makes sense that the best leaders are open to suggestions for improvement. Great companies are not only open to suggestions for improvement, but they actively solicit their front line for new ideas.
Being on the front line and thinking about suggesting process improvements to your leadership can be intimidating. Maybe you think that you’re just a cog in the machine, and not capable of any major changes. Keep in mind that even the tiniest rudder is capable of steering an entire boat. Or maybe you’re afraid that if you speak up you’ll be seen as a “busy body” or a “know-it-all”. That is a real risk you run if you do not properly prepare first. However, if you prepare – if you really put together a strong case – you’ll be seen as much more than a busy body. You’ll be seen as the SME that you are.
You know how to recruit, and you know what works and what doesn’t. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of being on the front line and having that firsthand knowledge? I have little sympathy for those recruiters who complain about processes they have to follow, yet offer no suggestions on how to improve those processes. Keep your leadership informed of their staffing operations. Let them know what your operation does well and what it can improve on. Getting out of your comfort zone and suggesting process improvements will benefit you in a number of ways.
It will allow your leadership to see you as a SME and a trusted partner. It will show that you’re not only interested in coming in and fulfilling your job description, but more importantly that you’re interested in improving their business. Not only is it beneficial to how your leadership views you, but it is also beneficial to your day to day activities (and your sanity). Think about the top 2-3 processes you have to do each day that you know could be done more efficiently. How much smoother would your work day go if you implemented those changes?
What I’ve found with my own career is that these don’t need to be earth shattering revelations. They can be small process improvements here and there. Small process improvements can have huge results in the long term. So get involved. Take ownership of your career and your day to day activities.
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