Ask not what your boss can do you for, ask what can you do for your boss
This mantra is imperative, whether you love your job or hate it. Regardless if you are an entry level employee or an executive. The reason this is so critical is that it will serve as the starting ground for your own personal development and growth. Just think, inevitably, something will give: either you love your job now and want to stay put, therefore you will perform to the best of your ability; or you are passionate about what you do, but you know you want to advance, you will also work hard to prove yourself; or lastly, you hate your job and know you want to do something else, chances are, you will have to pick up your game in order to do so.
Only this mind frame will allow you to grow, develop, and gain confidence and aptitude in your job. Only once you have accomplished this will it allow you to gain the experience, network, and support to advance in your career by way of a promotion, or, take a leap of faith into an entirely new career path and/or company.
Ironically, asking what can you do for your employer is ultimately not for their benefit, but yours. Are you unhappy in your current job? Fine – but do something about it. First, analyze your own performance. Are you coasting? Barely meeting your metrics or thresholds? Change that. Not only will your employer take notice (and if they don’t, well, you are simply buying your time) but your colleagues will, your clients will – and you will. Build the confidence, pride, and self-esteem back into your professional life. Whether this means higher sales, more output, greater hours logged, calling in sick less often etc, this effort will produce tangible results that you might be able to add to your resume or LinkedIn account; If not, takings steps in the right direction will make you hirable and a valuable asset at a new company. Further, this will start to create amazing changes for you personally, doors will start to open. But no one will want to hire you if you are mediocre.
Ask yourself “are you holding yourself back?” Because the honest truth is, your employer certainly isn’t. Your boss doesn’t control or dictate your performance, you do.
Even if you hate your job, going and giving it your all will be a much more satisfying feeling and set you up for success in your next role, not to mention securing a good reference from your current employer. Everyone wants to feel competent and like a valuable contributor, show your employer that you can not only execute the job well, but you can excel at it – this will give you the psychological edge and motivation to prove that you can be a success, and therefore show the ability to excel in a new endeavour you pursue. For an interesting video on the topic of motivation, I highly recommend watching this RSA Animate video by Dan Pink “RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” (it doesn’t involve money – surprise).
On the other hand, if you are currently in a job or working for a company you love, the same mentality holds true: what are you doing for your employer? If you have been unconsciously (or consciously) asking what your employer does for you, you need to change this – now. This is not to say that a good workplace shouldn’t recognize good employees and performance, this is crucial for a healthy work environment. But, if you are preoccupied with and consumed by perks, recognition, or favourable work assignments, then your head isn’t truly in the game. Once you start doing your job for you, and following your passions, ideas, and allowing your strengths to drive you, the recognition and glory will follow. But the feeling of self-mastery will be the ultimate reward you will receive at work, and when the extra benefits/perks follow suit because of this, it will be an added bonus.
In the grand scheme of things, we all need to work and make a living. Don’t make it about your organization or what your boss wants – make it about proving how valuable of employee you are, mastering your skillset, and differentiating yourself from the rest. Whether you love your job or hate it, you will only reap rewards that are bestowed on the best employees and the self-esteem, self-efficacy, and satisfaction that you will get from this isn’t for your employers benefit, it’s for yours. So, next time you go to work, ask your leader what you can do for them (knowing it is for your own benefit). You got this.