When was the last time you really felt all in on something? Was it a passion project, a project at work, or a side project? As humans when we can put all we have into something, the outcome is driven by passion, pride, and belief. Because of those things being weaved in throughout process, the final product is always better than in situations where workers didn’t back it fully. Below is my story that has become driven by the idea that buying in provides all the value in the world as employees.
Approaching a solid five years under my belt in the work force feels like the perfect time to reflect upon my successes and failures. I could easily spew off dozens of things I either need work on or did flat out wrong over the past few years. Oppositely, when I think of what I did right to gain career success, there is one thing that stands out: buy in.
Since the age of about 13 to today at 25, I've had four main job titles: nanny to a family of four kids, project manager for a university department, customer service representative for a natural gas company and now development and outreach for The Niche Movement. I'll admit I haven't always held the most ideal or 'sexy' titles. Lets face it, the natural gas industry isn't exactly Hollywood and nannying involves lots of dirty diapers. I might not have know it at the time but since the beginning of my working career, the one thing I intrinsically did was take a lot of pride in what ever it was I was doing. I bought into the tasks at hand and the company or family I was employed by.
This skill set I didn't even know I had clicked for me in 2014 while working as a CSR for the gas company in my hometown. The organization was going through a huge software change that affected the entire workforce and customer base negatively. Wait times skyrocketed to over an hour, employee morale was at an all time low as people had to relearn how to do a job they had been doing for years because of the new computer system. To top it off, extra working hours were enforced and there seemed to be no end in sight to the chaos. Naturally optimistic, the environment around me was wearing on me and I wanted to quit. Then, my AH-HA moment happened. I literally told myself I was the “face” of my company. I knew the company had just purchased this new software, invested years worth of time building the interface, and that any change would have a period of learning. It instilled both pride and responsibility in me to feel like I had a part in representing the company as if it were my own. This mindset helped me through some of the most frustrating days. Though I told myself that this state of mind was due to the massive organizational change, as I reflected back upon my previous jobs, I saw a common thread: that I always bought in.
I began babysitting a family of four small children when I was 14. Many kids I knew started out babysitting in high school as a means to earn some spending money. Unlike other though, I ended up staying with the same family for around ten years and quickly transitioned from watching the children during date nights to a full on nanny position. I spent weeks alone with them while their parents were on business trips, spent six consecutive summers with them, and saw them about five days each week. Though many could chalk the experience up to a juvenile job, something was different for me. It mattered that I was on time for carpools. It mattered that their rooms were clean at the end of the day. I took the time to ask about the score of their soccer games or how a dance recital went. I knew their favorite movies and we watched many together in theaters. I didn’t let any opportunity to teach them a life lesson pass by. Why? I bought in to the family goal of providing quality childcare while growing close ties to each child.
Like many, my college years brought about the idea of a work-study program. I could work in the recreation department swiping students into the gym for a small paycheck to cover some tuition costs. However, in a few short semesters swiping cards turned into managing the gym, which turned into joining forces with other staff to start the programs own marketing department. Starting the department from scratch meant I could offer my input as to what the work environment would be, who we would hire, what quality of work we work do and more. I knew other departments were watching and that many didn’t believe social media marketing truly had any return on investment. I wanted to prove them wrong and better our program every year. Why? I bought in to the idea that marketing to college students could increase the department’s reputation on campus.
Post-college, I took my first ‘real’ job at the natural gas company where the idea of buy in really resonated with me. Once I felt like I had mastered the CSR role, I was craving some change of scenery. My personal life kept pulling me towards Washington D.C. and in the summer of 2015, I finally made the leap and became a District resident. Shortly after the move, The Niche Movement role presented itself to me and I knew I wanted to get onboard immediately. I had been watching the company from afar as I did my time at other companies and knew the wisdom it was spreading. I never once doubted if I could make this opportunity a success because I already had one upper hand: I bought in.
Similar to creativity or an eye for design, I am not convinced that being an “all in” person can be taught through this blog post. What I do know is that for me a constant reminder that I, as an employee, represent my employer made all the difference. Here are a few tips to instill into daily life to make buying in more relevant:
· Particularly during discouraging workdays, buying in can feel like just another thing on a long to do list. For me, I literally wrote a sticky note reminder that I was representing my company. I challenge you to do the same. During rough phone calls or emails, I would glance up and be reminded that my work mattered for the business.
· When organizational appears, buying in decreases because security in knowing how to do a job is gone as well. Instead of fearing the unknown, look at the change as an even playing field. This is helpful especially if you are new to an organization as I was in mine. Colleagues of mine had anywhere from 5-25 years experience over me. However, when the system change occurred, I had the opportunity to learn the program, teach others, and shine in an area that was previously trumped by experience.
· Attitude is everything! You’ve probably heard this many times before but it is especially true when buying in becomes challenging. During rough times at a company nearly everyone is overworked, stressed, and unsure. Instead of saying these already known truths aloud, focus on the positive. Don’t add to the negativity. Rather, remind others what the end goal is and what some positives are.
Take a stake in the success of your company no matter how high up or down on the ladder you are. Buy in and take pride in the growth you can accomplish. If you have a story of how buying in has been your key to success please share it below or you can contact me directly at Emilie@thenichemovement.com.