Being Relevant Takes Effort

What do you do to be better at your work?

For most of us, staying relevant requires that we regularly invest time and energy in gathering and absorbing information, seeking out and building new relationships and adapting to a changing environment.  Jobs that don’t require this level of effort will be sourced to the lowest cost provider – unfortunate for those that lose jobs, but an economic reality that is blind to the need for the human side of the workforce. (Watch the embedded news clip about a robotic machine that does amazingly detailed work.

If your work requires “knowledge capital” you have to regularly get better at what you produce.  And make no mistake, this type of work is where true value is created in an organization.

I personally enjoy this part of my work and look forward to “unknown” spaces that will be appearing on the radar soon.  I like to work with people that have that same characteristic – and actively look for them – it’s part of what makes Symbolist unique.

“OK Tom – so what?”


Does your organization admit that this is reality or does it pretend that nothing will change and that what you know now will be fine next month?  Next year?

Sure…every company talks about adapting and changing to meet the marketplace needs – but is your organization built to do that?  Some companies are famous for trusting people to expand their knowledge


You will need to institutionalize an innovation mindset.

To do that you need to:

  • Celebrate when people grow – professionally or personally.  You can’t just celebrate time on the job like many service anniversary programs do today.
  • Communicate what the future looks like and help the people you work with see a vision of themselves in that future.
  • Highlight the role models that are out on the edge, leading and thinking about the future.  Find the stories in your own company of how people are changing the organization for the better.  Create a formal way to share and promote those people and stories.
  • Create space in the organization and in job descriptions for people to think, daydream a little, experiment with new ideas and new practices.
  • Expect people to be better.  Set the bar higher.  If people are in a healthy environment, they will want to expand and create.

A lot of companies and managers know that the world changes and that the future belongs to those that change with it.

But few companies – the best companies – take that knowledge and create a process that allows people to take the next step and play and experiment.

How are you actively engaging your employees to create your (and their) future?  How are you reinforcing that this is the expectation?

How are you staying relevant?