Get What It Means to “Add Value”? Find Your Niche and Showcase It.

If you want to:value added 7656908818_75fecde8da_m

  • get that new job, then explain how you’ll add value
  • move up, then demonstrate how you’ll add value
  • get a better raise, then quantify how you’ve added value
  • keep your job, then showcase how you continue to add value

Sounds easy enough, right? Unless, of course, you don’t know what it means to add value where you work or how. Sadly, that’s a lot of employees.

You are money.                                                                                                

The concept of “value added” was first a business and economics term used in discussions around sale price, production cost, and profit formulas. Eventually it got defined as:

…extra feature(s) of an item of interest (product, service, person etc.) that go beyond the standard expectations and provide something ‘more’ while adding little or nothing to its cost. Value-added features give competitive edges to companies….

That’s where you, the employee, come in–adding value through talents and abilities unique to you. It’s how you demonstrate that what you do contributes to the success and profitability of the company.

Employees are a cost, often a big one, to a company. That means we need to produce work that contributes to the bottom line.

Unfortunately, we often don’t know or have a hard time seeing our connection with the company’s big picture. Our world is often just the task list and performance goals in front of us.

It doesn’t matter how far up or down you are on the company’s organization chart, you have to figure out and demonstrate what you do to add value. If you don’t, someone else may decided that you don’t add enough. The consequences follow.

It’s likely that you already add lots of value and either don’t see it or could add more.

Find your niche.

If you’re saying to yourself:

  • “I don’t do anything special at work. I just do my job.”
  • “I don’t have any unique talents or skills to offer.”

Please stop yourself. It’s time to adopt a new, more positive and generous self-view.

The value you add doesn’t have to  appear in lights. Small contributions can have significant impacts on the company, your work group, and your boss.

Finding your niche means looking at the skills and abilities you take pride in and then maximizing opportunities to brand yourself by them.

Your niche may be something like being known for:

  • Coming up with ways to make routine tasks more efficient
  • Boiling down a complicated issue into its key points
  • Writing meeting minutes that keep decisions in focus
  • Getting people at odds to talk with each other to resolve differences
  • Injecting a light comment or bit of humor to cut tension
  • Meeting deadlines, especially the tight ones
  • Catching errors, written and computational, by being detail-oriented
  • Defusing irate customers and preserving relationships
  • Reading between the lines to uncover the real issues
  • Anticipating the needs of others and preparing to meet them

It’s important to take the time to put together a 3-step value-added action plan:

  1. Write a clear statement that describe your niche (This can be a challenge when what you do comes automatically, so really commit to doing this.)
  2. Identify the real business value that results, creating a clear, strong context
  3. Take advantage of all opportunities to put your value-added behavior to work

On the surface you may not think that what you do has business value, but it does. Think about all the time and money saved each time work is done without interruption, colleagues work together without strain, and customers remain loyal. Consider what it means when work is accurate, quality high, and communication clear.

That’s what makes organizations successful. It’s what helps your career.

Don’t  be shy.

Your value added emerges from your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors on the job. You want your employer to look at you and feel gratified that you work there. When you add value, employers don’t want to see you go and wish what you do would rub off on others.

Your value needs to be seen routinely to be appreciated. So please don’t be shy about showcasing it.

Photo from memories-in-motion via Flickr

4 thoughts on “Get What It Means to “Add Value”? Find Your Niche and Showcase It.

  1. Dawn, you nailed this one! “Adding value” is the more contemporary phrase of “doing more.” It doesn’t necessarily mean more production. Each of us has special talents that are good for an organization. They may indirectly or directly affect the work process. Just do it! It makes the difference on getting the promotion or better raise. I have seen many employees who don’t understand why they get passed over. They need to take their blinders off!

    • Thanks so much, Kate, for adding so much to the message of this post. I’m so glad it resonated with you and inspired this point in particular:”Each of us has special talents that are good for an organization. They may indirectly or directly affect the work process. Just do it!” If, as you say, employees would just play to their strengths consistently in ways that positively impact performance all around, they would reap the rewards.

  2. This post is an entire education of steps to follow in order to make things happen. An author I’m reading at the moment, TJ Stiles, loosely quotes Marx, saying that “men (and women — added by me) make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves.” Stiles added “He (Marx) forgot to add that great plans often come about by accident.” The way I see it, aspiring to practice (maybe even memorizing) Dawn’s good, all-enveloping guidelines will put many a job seeker in line for a perfect match for their skills and suddenly stumble upon a “perfect” accident. This is a great article!!

    • Thanks so much, Annette, for your comment and interesting quotes. I love it that you’ve added to the discussion here. You are so right that job seekers and even those seeking to succeed where they are need to focus on and utilize the skills that are their strengths. In business, it’s often our differentiators that lead to more success and satisfaction. Best, ~Dawn

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