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Making waves

The power of individual contribution

As soon as someone mentions the word “strategy”, assumptions of particular measures come into place – assessing our ability as to how well we are doing and how we are contributing. Good intention messages can become dissolved due to lack of transparency on important focus areas, leaving the individual none the wiser.

Whispers start questioning our destinations or how we fit. Do you know where we are going or the potential impact of your role? I think so, but I’m not sure. I assume someone does. I don’t really need to worry about that surely? Someone somewhere will be taking notice or have an understanding…

Have you ever felt that your individual contribution gets lost in translation or that your personal approach and identification gets lost within the entity that is a large corporation? How can you support the strategy? How do you feel about it? What aspects of your role make a difference? Does anyone understand my skills and how I fit? It all feels a little vague and wishy washy.

We can sometimes feel like we are heading in different directions through slightly murky water with limited visibility. Perhaps in some cases with no particular or obvious route to follow – and with limited control on our destination. The main achievement is to keep up with the masses, keep doing what you’re used to and hope for the best possible overall outcome.

We tend to follow the flow of traffic quite happily; however, you have to question – do we really understand where we are going and how we will get there? Along the way we may come across confusing inconsistencies and limited knowledge about other individual paths or how others perceive our contribution. The journey can become isolating and almost instantly feel unstable and with an uncertain outcome.

However, we can take some control over our path ahead and where we end up. Albeit it could be in various places along the way, but hopefully all facing a success? But what if we want to leave a deeper footprint…

If we see our working day as an individual journey we have the control and an overall personal responsibility to deliver. To enable our individual journey to run smoothly and to be a success we need to fully understand our destination, how we plan to get there and why we are doing something. This will usually fall within a team strategy on a smaller scale to support the long-term goal. This gives everyone security to set measurable and realistic objectives that work closely with the overall strategy, focusing on the potential of the individuals involved.

However, for a best possible start we will need supplies. The supplies are vital to empower the individual to contribute toward the team’s performance. Supplies can be many things, such as people, a structure, a strategy, or an overall vision, creating all kinds of working opportunities for our people to contribute to their best ability.

To keep the supplies fully stocked and to support the working endurance we will need to have fuel. I see this as support, knowledge, transparency, resource, respect, communication and trust. Each party on the journey must understand each other’s role to identify strengths and skills to share the burden and increase efficiency. Fuel must be shared to ensure everyone is successful and ends up working toward the same goal and reassuringly at the same place.

I reiterate: how can you as an individual contribute to your best ability without your supplies or fuel?

For everyone on the journey, understanding what your team’s own individual contributions actually look like can be challenging. However, once empowered you may question the route, or even the destination. You may suggest a short cut or a better approach. You may suggest getting a bus or a taxi!

Change is inevitable, so embrace what it could do for you. Whatever your contribution looks like, the empowering message is the behaviour demonstrated is a proactive one. You feel you can contribute, suggest, or support improvements. You have the knowledge, experience and understanding of what is to be achieved and most importantly how you as an individual can support it. How powerful it is to spot opportunities and improvements for the ever-evolving future of your working environment that benefits everyone.

With any journey you will experience the good and the bad – strong currents, some turbulence, or the homesick feeling of new surroundings. However, along the way you will be offered support and advice. Take this and enhance your experience. Use the resources around you; it can only lighten the load on your journey and enrich your experience and contributions.

When considering the still horizon ahead, the occasional movement will cause ripples, influencing all behaviours on the journey. Behaviours are influential and ripples of influence can be negative or positive. Take the rough with the smooth and learn from these and broaden your experiences.

Your supplies and fuel will liberate your individual potential and will empower changes to ignite the individual contribution.

So decide today: do you as an individual have your supplies? What is the fuel that you need and where will your journey take you?

Embrace making your own waves, send out your own ripples of influence and enjoy the ride ahead. You may get there sooner than you think.

Selina Yelland is a PA in the Real Estate team at Michelmores LLP, a top 100 law firm with offices in Exeter, Bristol and London that provides advice to national and international clients