I believe there is a general lack of understanding of economics and business principles in our country today. For too long everyone assumed it all worked, until Covid showed us it didn’t. Many were oblivious to how the different facets of our economy were connected. They quickly learned when one part wasn’t working, other parts suffered. Successful businesses are necessary for a thriving economy.
Workers too lack an understanding of how things are connected. No matter what your job is or who you work for, there is a connection you must understand. It’s the connection of two critical questions.
- How does my organization make money?
- How does my job add value to my organization?
Could you answer them? Unfortunately, too many don’t know these answers.
Making a profit isn’t bad, it’s critical for every business. Without profit, they’ll shut down the operation. Even those important non-profit organizations must have a profit, for without a profit margin, they can’t carry out their mission. Understanding how the money is made for your organization helps you answer the second question about how your job adds value. If you don’t know how the money is made, how do you know the work you do each day is adding value? You don’t and that’s a problem.
Your job hasn’t always existed. It was created in response to an organizational need. Every position in an organization exists to help grow revenues, manage expenses, i.e., increase efficiency, or both. That’s adding value. Someone made the case to the owner or senior leaders that your job was necessary and their argument for adding it was tied to either revenues or expenses.
With an understanding of how the company makes money, you will be able to contribute ideas related to your job that will increase organizational value. Employees who know how to increase value are invaluable.
Organizations often add layers of jobs through the years. As needs change, some of the jobs aren’t needed the way they once were, they aren’t adding value anymore. If the organization is making money, no one looks at those jobs and adjusts. It doesn’t mean the employees aren’t working hard, they are, but they are doing work that no longer is adding value. The day will come when that’s a problem.
If you don’t know answers to one or both questions, don’t panic, but it is time to be more curious.
Start with learning how money is made in your organization. Many companies share this information because they want employees to understand their business. If it’s not shared, it doesn’t mean it’s not available, you just need to dig around or ask. Get access to financial statements and if you don’t understand them (many of us don’t), ask for someone in finance to explain them to you.
Once you understand how money is made, think about the work you are doing each day. How is your work helping to grow revenues, or reducing expenses through efficiency? It might be directly, e.g., you are in sales, or it could be indirectly, e.g., you work in marketing that supports the sales department selling more. Find the connection.
When you know these answers where you work today and are interested in a career move to a new job in a new organization, make sure you learn these answers before you interview. When you can share how you will add value to the new organization, you’ll be a more desirable candidate.
A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. Proverbs 12:11 NLT