My Work Manifesto

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Man-i-fes-to

: a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer (source: Merriam Webster)
When we hear the term manifesto we tend to think in political terms – a party laying out its principles and views to define its position and goals. However, manifestos work on a personal level too. It is simply a way of declaring what matters to you in life, how you want to live. By defining your manifesto, by writing it down, you create a benchmark by which to compare your desired prinicples versus the reality of your current situation. You can choose to ignore the difference – and therefore question whether in fact the principle is important to you – or use it as a means to spur change.

My professional manifesto is just a subset of my personal one. They are essentially one and the same. It would be very difficult to be successful in a work environment if you’re required to behave in a way that conflicts with your personal principles. The difference is just the detail and context.

Whilst I instinctively make the simple choices, the workplace manifesto can be used to guide me in more complex situations. When torn between two or more options, the manifesto provides clarity.

I thought it worthwhile to write it down and publish in a public space. Firstly, to make it real. A manifesto is after all a public declaration. Secondly, there may be some value in it for others. If you’re reading this it may be that you’re considering your own manifesto. Hopefully this can provide you with some ideas. Or perhaps you work with me – or are potentially going to – and you want to get a better understanding of the choices I make.

Either way, this is how I will live my working life.

Note: I thought it might be helpful to elaborate on each point for your benefit. It’ll probably provide me clarity too.

 

I will…

 

Follow my passions

To get the most satisfaction from your job and to achieve optimal performance you need to love what you’re doing. It has to be a passion. You need to figure out what it is that gets you excited, and then go pursue it. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s going to be difficult to take that extra step to achieve your goals. Even if you don’t have high aspirations, it’s a long way to retirement to be in a career you don’t like.

Live my values

You need to understand the values by which you live. You may not have explicitly defined them yet, but they’re already helping you make decisions. Identifying them will give you clarity when faced with a fork in the road. For me, the things I value most are Family, Integrity, Happiness and Creativity. Knowing this helps me make choices, particularly difficult ones. For instance, when faced with accepting a job offer that means a great career move but an unhappy family, the choice is easy for me.

Live the belief that everything can be done better

Could be done better‘ is not a criticism. It’s a mindset to do better. Look at what you’re doing and ask yourself ‘how can I improve this?‘. Not just once, but continually.

Optimise my time

There is always plenty to do and not enough time to do it. Look at what you’re doing and ask yourself ‘why am i doing this?‘. Is it helping you reach your goals? ‘We’ve always done it‘ is not a good enough reason alone to continue.

Plan down, work up

A common mistake people make in the workplace is looking at the detail or tactics first. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived? Start at the top – what outcome to do you want? What does success look like? Only then can you figure out the things you need to do and achieve to get there.

Measure it

Don’t guess what works, measure what you do. It’ll help you optimise your time and work by enabling you to make informed decisions.

Focus on the important numbers

A.k.a Don’t worship false gods. It’s very easy to get drawn into the game of revering the big numbers. But do they actually matter to your business or customers? Identify the metrics that really make a difference. Worship those.

Look ahead and keep moving

Time doesn’t stand still, things change and you need to as well. Keep an eye on what is on the horizon and experiment with new stuff when you can. You may discover something better.

Be a sponge and receptive to learning

Read books & blogs, watch films, listen and talk to people, take a course – anything to take in new information and ideas. Don’t just switch off. Learning is a lifelong activity.

Be positive in my approach and language

It’s a much healthier way to live and also a better way to do business. People will be more inclined to listen to you if you come with solutions rather than just problems. Using positive language can be very powerful when you’re trying to persuade colleagues or customers.

Surround myself with talent

Great people will make you better. The sum truly is greater than the parts. Find likeminded people inside and outside the company to work with. You’ll be more productive, stimulated, challenged and everyone’s performance will improve. Never be afraid to hire someone more talented than you – your team will be better for it and you’ll learn from them too.

Play nice and have fun

Your job satisfaction and contribution will be greater if you enjoy what you’re doing. Life is too brief to be miserable. Be serious when it’s needed, but smile and laugh at will. Be respectful of others, including your competitors. Schadenfreude will come back and bite you on the arse.

Earn respect, not expect it

Being respectful of the office or position held by someone is different to respecting the person. Ensure you continue to earn the respect of others through your actions and don’t expect it just because of your job title or previous plaudits.

Know what makes customers happy

It may seem obvious what they want, but how much of it is guess work? You need to be speaking with customers on a regular basis. A simple Start, Stop, Continue survey (“What would you like us to start / stop / continue doing?“) is a great way of kicking off a feedback loop with customers which can be used to aid business decisions.

Be uncomfortable

Small changes occur when you’re comfortable. Stepping outside that, where you’re more uncomfortable, where you have to take calculated risks, is where you’ll experience your biggest gains.

Take ownership

Its empowering to be the decision maker for your area of responsibility. Accountability is a great incentive to improve your performance, knowing the outcome is up to you. Come up with ideas, take the initiative and be receptive to feedback when things go right or wrong.

And that, my reader, is my professional manifesto. I expect to add to this, to refine it over time, but this is the core of what I believe.
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