Level Up Your Career by Shifting to a Strategic Mindset
Many roles at any company have a fair number of administrative tasks associated with them. These tasks can be essential, and at times very rewarding. But your function (and you!) will likely benefit from some more strategic thinking in the long run. So how do you make that important switch from a administrative mindset to one that is more strategic and consultative?
In my role as a Talent Partner at Rainforest QA, I need to ensure a good candidate experience and hiring process for our team. Doing so requires addressing many details in thoughtful and timely ways. Early on, much of my time was spent nailing down these details. Once I built my confidence in those tasks I knew both the company and I would benefit from some more strategic thinking. However, it took that recognition and some deliberate steps to make make this shift in the way I worked. The benefit of doing so was the amplification of the time and effort I put into my work – a really rewarding thing to see happen!
Here are the steps that you can take to make the shift to a more strategic mindset no matter what role you’re in.
1. Consult a Mentor
When you’re up to your eyeballs in administrative tasks it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Ask your manager or a mentor to help you identify problems and new ways of approaching them. Having a higher-level view and more experience to draw on, they’ll likely have numerous ideas. If you’re lucky like I was, your manager or mentor can help you form a plan, act as a sounding board, and offer encouragement along the way.
2. Start Somewhere
Shifting your mindset to a more strategic one can feel daunting. Finding a actionable place to start can make it feel more manageable. Land on a problem that you can do something about and scope out an initial project that you can own. Make sure that it’s something you can own from end-to-end, and for which you can show measurable results.
A Mini-Case Study in Strategic Thinking: Creating a New Process
One of the hardest things for me as a Talent Partner is parting ways with a team member. There are numerous reasons this happens, but I wanted to figure out what I could do to try and have an effect.
To understand and learn from these experiences, we created an “Interview Review” process. When a team members leaves Rainforest, the Talent Team goes back and systematically reviews the feedback from their interview. We note red flags, and make suggestions to improve the job description, interview process, and/ or debrief. We then ask hiring managers to review and provide input on adjustments to the process as we move forward.
This is a way for us all to take a difficult situation, learn from it, and improve. In doing so we potentially help the company avoid a poorly matched hire in the future and allow an opportunity for my colleagues to see the Talent Team as a more consultative partner in the hiring process.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Decisive
The Marines say “a good plan now is better than the perfect plan too late.” If you notice an opportunity to improve a process, this is your chance! Lean on what you know to inform your decision — it’s very likely you know more than you think, and if nobody else is doing anything to make improvements, then you’re ahead of the curve. Remember that if things don’t work out as planned, you’ll be intimately familiar with the decision and what didn’t work. That experience will make you that much better equipped to try a new solution.
4. Measure the Impact
During the planning stage of your project figure out how you’re going to measure the impact of your work. In some cases, there is quantifiable data you can easily gather. Sometimes the data is something more subjective and can possibly be gathered by a survey. In our “Interview Review” example, the objective data I gather includes attrition numbers each quarter. The more subjective data is a survey asking hiring managers to regularly rate their confidence in their interviewing skills for each position.
It’s important to keep in mind that even if you can’t measure everything, that doesn’t mean you should measure nothing. You need to show others that the changes you implemented have led to improvements. In my case, that leads to higher confidence in the interview process and better hiring outcomes.
Once you start thinking and acting in more strategic ways you’re likely to notice more and more opportunities to do so. Seeing the impact of this shift can be very encouraging. Take what you learned and either apply it to improving this initial project, or start planning for your next one! You and your team will see the value in the shift you’ve made to thinking more strategically.
Building a Career at Rainforest
Rainforesters across the board have identified career growth as one of the most important benefits a company can offer. In response, the People Team has developed a number of ways to help individual team members identify career growth opportunities and create a path toward achieving their career goals. In our next Talent Team post I’ll be speaking with several members of our People Team about what some of those opportunities and paths look like.
Interested in becoming part of the Rainforest team? Learn more about joining Rainforest on our careers page.