Seventeen or so years ago, I joined my organization as a Help Desk specialist. Within two years, I had been promoted to one of the three managers responsible for day-to-day operation of the Help Desk. A year after that, I was the only manager–the others had moved to other jobs. At the time the Help Desk was “affectionately” called “the helpless desk” because callers were waiting an average of 20 minutes before they could speak to someone. That was soon to change.
A group of Help Desk staff had developed an idea that would end up cutting call times down significantly while improving the service provided once you were speaking to one of the agents. All I needed to do was organize the implementation, talk leadership into funding it, and then get out of the way. I did. It was a blast. We were young, we had some great ideas, and we had all the resources we needed. And, the idea worked even better than expected.
Once the implementation was over and we had resolved the major issues, we settled into operational mode. Instead of brainstorming sessions and exciting implementations, we were creating reports and trying to hold the gains. It was very important work, but it wasn’t as much fun. I started looking around for something new.
As part of that search, I asked a member of senior administration if she would mind meeting with me, and she agreed. As we were talking, she gave me a tremendous amount of useful information and advice. However, I found one piece of advice very profound.
What was that advice? No matter what else you are doing, you need to fulfill your current job duties. This sounds obvious, but there has been at least one occasion when I forgot and paid the price. I have seen many others forget, too.
Your current position is the base from which you will be able to reach to the next level. It is the foundation upon which you build your career future. A building’s foundation needs care and regular maintenance to ensure it is solid. If it is neglected, that base begins to crumble and the building becomes unstable. Similarly, if you neglect your current job, your career options become uncertain.
So, while you are preparing yourself for your next position, be sure to work hard at your current job. Work as if you intend to stay, and keep working that way until you have completed negotiations on the start date for your next adventure. Then, focus your efforts on helping your leadership and team prepare for the transition. Not only will doing so help your organization, but it will help you build a reputation as a hard worker who truly cares for your colleagues and your organization. Having that reputation certainly won’t hurt your chances of snagging that next job.Image Credit: US Bureau of Land Management