A report back from a panel discussion about how to be successful when work is no longer a place and gadgets let us connect whenever and wherever.
By Jaleh Bisharat (Vice President of Marketing, oDesk)
How often in our careers do we get to say “I love my job”? Well, I can honestly say that I love my job, largely because what I do is try and help other people love their jobs. That, for me, is truly thrilling.
It’s also an exciting time to be working in my industry, digital, where a new reality is emerging: Work is no longer a place. This has made a huge difference in how people not only experience their careers, but also in how they live their lives.
I recently presented about the future of work at DLDwomen in Munich. The event was co-chaired by Arianna Huffington herself and consisted of a gathering of women who are redefining industries and impacting lives across the globe. As part of my session, I joined Yahoo chief development officer Jackie Reses in a panel discussion moderated by the amazing Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The discussion touched on critical questions, from the role of the aging workforce to how organizations can promote healthy work-life balance in an always-connected world.
Considering how rapidly the world of work is shifting — to date, businesses have already spent $1 billion hiring online freelancers on oDesk alone — we are compelled to think through not only what these changes will mean, but also how we can best position ourselves to be successful in this rapidly changing environment.
So, my DLDwomen presentation was titled, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Women in the Future of Work.” Here’s what I said:
Craft Your Personal Brand
Think of the mental shortcuts we all use to make sense of people we don’t know well. The digital artist. The crack coder. The genius with big data. With a growing number of free agents, personal brand is growing in importance, as managers seek people with the right characteristics for fluid projects and teams. Think of your personal brand this way: When somebody encounters you for the first time, what do you want them to think? What do you bring to the table? How do you want to be remembered?
Once you’ve identified your personal brand — or what you bring to the table — deliver on it consistently. Then promote it in places that matter to your audience: places like LinkedIn, Twitter, relevant blogs, live conferences and meetups.
Focus on the 20%
I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, and I cannot repeat it often enough: How much of what you do has a genuine impact? There is a big difference between progress and motion. In this increasingly results-based economy, impact is more important than ever.
How do you distinguish between progress and motion? Each situation is different, but applying a framework to force prioritization is an important step. I think of it this way: Roughly 20% of the effort gets 80% of the result. I continuously ask myself and my team: “Is this work part of the 20%?” When we use this test, we end up making a lot of adjustments.
Right after business school I had two job offers. The first was with a database company for what felt like a lot of money. The second was for much less money, but at a company that had spun out of Apple, full of innovative people. It felt like a tough decision at the time, but I chose the Apple spinout, and I’m certain that doing so changed the course of my life. Not only did I learn from the best, but several team members went on to become Silicon Valley legends and led me to my subsequent opportunities.
Work with great people and they will open doors for you.
Evolve Yourself Every Day
It used to be that you attended university and then you went to work. Now, the demand for skills is changing fast. No matter how experienced you are, you need to be nimble. With options like Coursera, General Assembly and more, successful people view education as a continuous, lifelong pursuit.
Articulate Solutions, Not Problems
I recently hired three freelancers to compare wages for countries around the world. Why three? I needed a researcher for a bigger project and this little test would let me compare and choose the best person.
Only there was a problem with my assignment — each of the countries on my list approaches the calculation differently. All three freelancers noticed the problem right away. Two of the three asked how I’d like them to proceed. The third came back with a proposal for the best way to capture and compare the data I needed. Who do you think got the job?
It is good to flag problems early. But successful people proactively find a solution.
Think Outside the Talent Box
This is for you entrepreneurs. When building your business, you no longer need to limit yourself to candidates within 50 miles or so of your office. We now have fresh ways to integrate talent. Using online hiring platforms like oDesk, you can think much more expansively. Do you only need a few hours a week of design? Consider hiring that talented part-time mom from Tennessee.
Build a High-Performance Culture
Wondering how to build a great culture with a virtual or blended team? Well, online hiring is no place for bad managers. If you are a bad manager, you should skip it. But, if you are a good manager, here is the trick: Take the very best practices you have for face-to-face management and implement them in spades. Here are a few examples:
- Write down crisp, performance-based objectives with clear, written deadlines
- Check in frequently
- Give clear feedback and rewards
- Treat virtual team members as kindly as people in your office
At my company we use practices like these to manage all of our team members, especially those who join us every day from around the world.
Your thoughts? Do you have any best practices you’d like to share as we move into the future of work?
About the blogger: Jaleh Bisharat is VP of marketing at oDesk, and former VP of marketing at Amazon.com, OpenTable, Jawbone, and Hearsay Social. She’sadvised countless other companies and VC firms and serves on the board of directors at OpenTable and Homestead Technologies.