Do the basics well, success will follow

basicIP Draughts has a set of slides that he uses for internal training, which he first used about 15 years ago. Every few years, colleagues ask him to repeat the training. The next outing is in a few weeks’ time.

The slides emphasise the importance of doing the basics well. Some of the topics covered are:

  1. Quality. Don’t compromise on the technical quality of work product.
  2. Service. Provide a prompt, attentive service, with good communication and keeping deadlines in mind.
  3. Style. Have integrity and reliability, and develop good working relationships (internal and external). Be assertive where appropriate, but don’t be aggressive or abrasive.
  4. Understand your client. Every client is different. Try to understand them, their priorities, their role in the organisation, and the role they expect of you (eg team member, adviser, gate keeper, facilitator, good cop, bad cop, someone to blame). Do other client representatives in the same organisation have the same expectations? Who is ultimately giving the instructions?
  5. Meet expectations. While not compromising on your values and standards, try to meet the client’s needs and expectations, eg as to the level of detail they require. Don’t over-promise. Try to exceed the client’s expectations on timing, helpfulness, etc. But it’s okay to call out unrealistic deadlines.
  6. Pro-active approach. Where you have insufficient information or instructions, consider whether you can offer a solution (eg a draft agreement) with caveats, rather than just ask the client more questions.
  7. Care and editing. Put care and attention to detail into your first draft, even if you can’t fully charge for it. Discuss it with your supervisor/colleagues where appropriate. “There is no pride in a draft” – anyone can make suggestions for improvement, no matter how junior or senior.
  8. Thinking ahead. Think about who might see your work product (ie not just your immediate client). How will they react to it? Is it productive? Avoid personal comments that might be forwarded to someone else. Think about whether you should forward a long email string. In extreme cases, consider adding a password.
  9. Cooperation and record keeping. Keep good file notes and keep colleagues informed. Work with colleagues to provide a consistent, seamless service. Ask for help when you need it. Be helpful when others ask for help.
  10. Take holidays. Don’t take your work on holiday! Have regular holidays. Make sure you can hand over to someone who is well briefed, when you are on holiday. Your health and happiness are more important than work.
  11. Lifelong learning. Keep learning and improving your knowledge and skills. Be patient and resilient – you can’t become an expert overnight.
  12. Give back. Help your community and your career, with activities outside the “day job” – eg pro bono work, participation in professional bodies, teaching, writing.
  13. Long-term approach. Build up loyalty and trust over the longer term. Hire people who are better than you. Help their careers. Ensure you have planned for leadership succession.

1 Comment

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One response to “Do the basics well, success will follow

  1. Tamsin Miley

    Great principles that definitely bear repeating. Thanks, Mark!

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