Crisis #1: What Do You Actually Do?

How we’re defined in the workplace matters today. Without definition (unfortunately) there is no work.

In my mind, what I do is pretty clear. It’s a bit out there and there’s lots of it, but I get it and feel pretty comfortable about what I bring to any given party.

Since starting The Work Project, it’s been great to receive open and honest feedback from a number of sources rather than just a patronising pat on the head. There’s probably a post to write on why the project is both inspiring people and making them feel comfortable enough to approach me with such amazing objectivity and openness, but for now I’m just glad it’s happening.

To make the project succeed in any way, I need to do some work. The feedback I received multiple times from very different sources this week was:

I get the project. I just don’t understand what you do.

Now that’s a problem. If I’m not clearly communicating what it is I actually do, how will organisations understand the value of working with me? How will people understand what problem I can solve for them?

Over the last couple of days, I’ve done an exercise. Here’s how it applies to me. If you’re suffering similar lack of clarity, you might find it useful to work through the same headings:

What’s My Message?

A massive learning so far in the project has been that largely we’re defined by what we do, not who we are. I’ve been working for some time on personality-focussed recruiting processes for increased performance, but now I’m experiencing the battle for person over preconception first-hand. Business, the workplace, society is still entrenched in the idea of ‘having a trade’.

Possessing generalised skills that can be applied to any designated scenario isn’t enough. Despite the fact that we can learn process, task, gain experience and acquire knowledge, these are still the prevailing factors in the workplace understanding what work we do, what work we can do. Even 0ur last names are the trades of our ancestors.

As much as I hate that (and I’m determined to change it), if I’m going to get any work at all in the dwindling weeks before the money runs out, I need to communicate what I do better.

I need to market myself.

The Elevator Pitch and Supporting Paragraph

I’ve always believed that if you can’t sum up a business or product in

Here goes:

I simplify organisations and brands. I help them perform better through increasing their focus on people. (105 Characters)

The way that manifests itself is another paragraph, but that’s the elevator pitch nailed. Here’s the rest.

I’m building the bridge between Human Resources, Internal Communications and the Workplace to create simpler, people-focussed organisations that perform better. I create and support projects to increase engagement, build culture and catalyse performance.

In itself, that’s enough. I could start trying to list potential projects and ideas, but actually, we can decide that when we talk — it’s unique to your brand or organisation. I know I can create huge benefit to your organisation, I’m happy to pitch a method that’s right for you.

I now have a two-line manifesto. Hopefully that offers some clarity.

What I Will Do Vs What I Can/ Could Do

Just because I need to have a defined core message to be understood by the world of work, should that restrict me? Just because I’m running out of money, should I immediately compromise and do anything to get some cash, or do I need to more creatively approach how I define work and look at ways to get that funded/ make it pay? It’s a conundrum we’re all faced with regularly and the fear around this is largely what keeps people welded to jobs they don’t like.

There’s lots I could do. If you stripped the (teachable) skills/ specialist subject from my background, what I have to offer as a person is:
•Speaking
•Listening
•Leading
•Writing
•Creative Thinking

These traits could be applied in any arena and in the ideal world I could select the right project based on interest and cultural fit, then gain the required knowledge to apply them. But we’ve already covered that the world doesn’t yet work that way. People want proven skills, based on experience.

My employment history to date has included (in no particular order) journalism, service and project management, relatively senior public sector roles, small business ownership, creative and tech industries, recruitment, Scotch Eggs, Little Chef, a paper round, event organising and a bit of speaking.

Just because I arrived along this path, does it mean I should be pigeon-holed and necessarily have to continue on it? As long as I have the right boots, surely I can walk another path just as well?

I could easily grab another comfortable management position in the public sector, but given the apathy it created in me last time, it would be madness. Despite the fact that my employers thought I was working well, I was doing very little, completely disengaged and just going through the motions, ticking boxes. No one benefits from that.

So despite the money running out, I need to be selective about what I do for the sake of myself and those I’m working with. Unless I’m fully engaged, I’ll be wasting their time as well as mine, even if we could all coast through it.

What I will do over the next 11 1/2 months is:
•Work with organisations and brands to simplify them through a focus on people.
•Take on projects that excite and challenge me in the area of people, culture and engagement.
•Find ways to make fun and interesting side projects happen.
•Make personal projects I love a reality, starting with All About People 2015.

If it doesn’t excite me, for your sake and mine, I’ll walk away. As The Work Project dictates that I’m only recognised for the value my work creates, it’s a great way to drive me to only do work where I know I can make a major impact.

What Do I Want to Do?

This is a great opportunity to create a checklist of things I want to do that to this point in my career have passed me by. These are things I know I can do well (and create value/ impact), but I’ve never quite tried commercially.

Off the top of my head, these are:
•Advertising Copywriting
•Make a film
•Create a Video Game
•Write a Book
•Some kind of performance

This 12 months is a great opportunity to make sure I leave no box unticked. For some of these I can be helped by others – hire me to do some ad copywriting and only recognise the value I create – for others I’ll need to find a way to make it happen (and pay!) myself.

This is all about exploring work. For myself, for others. Now I‘ve actually taken the time to look at what I can do what I will do, what I want to do and what I do best, hopefully I can communicate that to others!

Time to get some work…

#WorkThink

By Andy Swann on September 29, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.