What Does It Mean to Be Good at Your Job

If you’re a young and goal-oriented person trying to climb your way up the corporate ladder, this is a question I’m pretty sure crossed your mind.

What does it mean to be good at your job?

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To some, this might even be a question you’re asking yourself right now.

Despite being confident in your skills and abilities, there comes a point where you question yourself. 

Triggers and Causes

Normally, some sort of trigger happens and this causes you to question yourself. Here are some of them:

  • You read an article saying that you aren’t as good as you think you are
  • You got a bad performance review
  • You got told straight to your face that you’re not good

Whatever that situation is, there is always a trigger.

Oh, and whether it’s true or not, is not an issue here at the moment. All I’m saying is that something triggers this self-doubt.

The next thing you should do is to determine if the source is credible or not.

If it is, read on. If it’s not, dismiss the thought that you’re not good at your job.

Don’t doubt yourself just because someone who, most likely, doesn’t know what he or she is talking about said something. For all you know, that might even be an insecurity in him or her.
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There will always be people who will drag you down. Or at least, try to drag you down. Just ignore these people.

Now, what do you do if the source of the trigger is credible? Face the brutal facts.

Let’s break it down:

  • Look at the results
  • Determine if there’s a hidden motive behind that statement

Start with Results

First, look at the results you are producing.

Most people I met my entire career aren’t results-oriented so this might be a challenge.

This is especially true for Filipinos. We are naturally effort-oriented. Meaning, “I put in a lot of effort; therefore, I should get promoted.”

The problem with being effort-oriented is that you can put in 60-hour work weeks but have disastrous or negative effects for the company.

This is also the reason why a lot of other nationalities always say nice things about us being hardworking, but rarely talk about the results we achieve.

Being results-oriented means you value what the company values. And, in most cases, that involves money. The results that matter the most is generating more revenues while lowering expenses.

No matter what role or department you are in, increasing profitability is always the first thing that is looked at.

I didn’t have a hard time being results-oriented. Primarily because numbers are irrefutable.

For sales, that is simple. The number to look at is the money they bring in. For accounting, one could be how streamlined your processes are so that when there are suppliers to be paid or employees need reimbursements, they don’t have to wait 90 days and follow up 12x and include your manager in all conversations. For HR, it could be how you help managers (especially first-time ones) develop their team members instead of slapping them with violations and policies.

The latter two, of course, increases productivity and creates good will, which is why those are good results. You get a higher output (focus on work and grow your team) while minimizing input (following up and frustrations — which eats up a lot of time).

I used to play competitive basketball. At the end of the buzzer, the team that has the most points wins — no matter how much effort every player put in.

Much like Gilas, we absolutely love them for the hard work they put in. Puso. But hard work won’t give them championships.

Of course, this isn’t to say that you don’t need to work hard. On the contrary, there is a very strong correlation between hard work and positive results.

So, when doubts creep in, always look at your results.

Side story: While this story isn’t known to a lot, I won’t shy away from saying that I got fired from my previous job. The reason? I didn’t produce results.

Was it true? Let’s take a look at some irrefutable numbers.

Facts: I brought in 151 leads in 3 months. The previous 5 people who held my post didn’t even come close to producing those numbers.

Peter Drucker said in The Effective Executive that if a job has defeated 2 or 3 men after having proven to be effective, then it’s not the man but the job that needs to be changed. 50 years since its publication, what Drucker said about investments in managerial ego still holds true!

See, we were trying a new methodology, inbound marketing, and it was agreed upon at the beginning this was a long game. A marathon. Not a sprint.

3 months in, my manager, the CEO, got “bored” and pulled the plug.

Bringing in 151 leads in 3 months for a B2B company in the Philippines without spending a fortune except for the budgeted tools is still one of the biggest accomplishments I will always be proud of.

In another company I worked at, it took me 6 months to get that number of leads. And to think that I had 2 years of digital marketing activities laid out already while I only had 3 months here (and two of those months I wasn’t directly in-charge; so, technically, I only had a month).

Process of Elimination

Wait, the person who fired me was credible, right?

Let’s start with the premise that the 151 leads in 3 months is a great accomplishment. There are only two things that can spring from this:

  1. I’m wrong in assuming he is credible
  2. I’m right that the person is credible but doesn’t know what he is talking about (in this case, about effective digital marketing)

The first one is a no-brainer. If that’s the case here, then I don’t have to doubt myself. But, let’s assume that he is.

This leaves us with the last option. The person doesn’t know what he is talking about and is just using (abusing) his role power here.

This is something I’ve seen over and over. In fact, I published a post in LinkedIn about it a while back.

Now, let’s assume that the 151 leads (in an over-crowded B2B industry) I brought in aren’t great. That means I’m just talking nonsense and you should stop reading now.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that.  

This process of elimination eventually leaves us with one last option.

Was there a hidden motive behind that decision? Of course, there’s no way for me to find out.

We’re now at the end of this little thought experiment. I hope this helps you in your situation.

Doubt is a necessity. It forces you to double-check your work and your decisions. Without it, we’ll end up with a lot of mistakes and accidents. However, there are situations where self-doubt is not only dangerous, but it’s also crippling.

So what does it mean to be good at your job? It means you deliver results that the company values. And when doubt creeps in, your results will be your anchor. If they are great, just brush it off. Determine if the person is really credible and knows what she is talking about. If she is on these two points, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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