14 things you should care about

ISE Magazine Volume : 50 Number: 7
By Nicole Schoch

Keeping basic business principles in mind helps ISEs of all ages

In many situations, everything would work better if we all reflected on basic business principles.

Perhaps keeping a list will help remind us. So here are 14 things that I am now old enough to know better – but still young enough to care about.

No. 1
Know what you know, and know what you don’t know. This sounds so simple, but these words of advice are ones that you should continually remind yourself of. If the topic under discussion is something you have experience and deep knowledge in, then you should speak up and ensure that your experience is taken into consideration.

If, however, the topic is out of your knowledge scope and experience, then think twice about speaking up. It might be more productive to listen to the advice of everyone else – you know, those with experience.

No. 2
Look ahead! What is the next question? Whether you are asking someone for support, setting up a meeting or sending an email, always try to figure out the next question that your colleagues will ask. Have you prepared for this? If not, then do so. In so many instances, delays and extra meetings occur since we didn’t ask ourselves this question.

No. 3
Psychology matters. As engineers, we often forget the importance of motivation, charisma, charm, backgrounds and personalities. I find myself most guilty of this when the workload gets high and I am short on time, which is when it becomes even more critical.

No. 4
When you ask questions, take notes. Unless you have a photographic memory, take notes, photos, voice recordings, print screens or anything else so that you don’t have to ask someone the same instructions twice.

Investing in yourself pays off

No. 5
Job reviews. If you are a manager, you must be willing to give feedback and review to your employees. If you can’t take on this most basic of managerial duties, then there are plenty of other ways to advance your career without having direct reports. That being said, if you are an employee and your manager doesn’t provide you with a review, don’t complain. Take action. Write up a review of yourself and then request that your manager spend 30 minutes going over it with you. You can always push your manager for feedback.

No. 6
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know what strengths you have, and find ways you can put these to use in the workplace. Feel free to also talk to your managers regarding these, and ask them to also look at ways you can put these to work best.

No. 7
Do the tedious tasks. It may seem painful, but you will learn from it. If you are new into the corporate world it may be expected from you, so embrace it. If you have been in the corporate world for a while, it will remind you how things really work and how difficult it may be for the “simple” report you requested. While you may not have the time to do the actual job, at least understand what someone has to go through to get it for you.

No. 8
Note the power of the word “noted.” One of my favorite bosses taught me the word “noted,” along with how important it is. In any work environment there will be disagreements and things done incorrectly. If you have done something incorrectly, you should work to rectify this in the quickest and best way possible.

No. 9
Organization is key. Take the time to make logical file locations and save important documents into them. I even go as so far as to make pdf files of important emails and put them into folders.

No. 10
Answer your emails. Answer even if the answer to that email is that you forwarded it to someone else, you need additional time, or it is a question/concern already being discussed by upper management.

No. 11
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but don’t be lazy about it. If you don’t know something, you should always ask. But always be sure that you have checked all other available options prior to you asking a question. You don’t want to ask a question that was answered already by the email in your inbox sent out to all employees.

No. 12
Learn software skills. There is a lot of fancy software, and there is a constant influx and change in them. If there is one software to master as an industrial and systems engineer, it is Microsoft Excel. This will save you hours on the job and also turn you into the office hero when you can write a function or create a macro to assist your colleagues.

No. 13
“Find out what no one else wants to do and make it your specialty.” My mother was one of the pioneer women working in an all men’s field. The previous quote is one of the guidelines she used.

No. 14
Understand the value of a value. Numbers are sometimes all that matter, especially for those in finance. But you must also understand that year-end targets and snapshot statistics are nothing more than that.

Sometimes it can feel like we are busy chasing the exact location of a flock of sheep in a field, when the second after you document your information it is obsolete (as they are constantly moving).