Written by a guest contributor:
Are you lucky enough to love what you do? Are you feeling blessed because you can see the fruits of your hard labour? Do you wake up each morning and leap out of bed, race to get dressed and almost get done for speeding as you make your way to work? (well, OK maybe not to that extent, but you know what I mean).
I’ll tell you why I can relate to the above:
- I work for a great company, voted by Sunday Times one of 25 best big companies to work for
- I have the privilege to lead a fantastic team of 15 team members. Their years of service span 200 years and all are dedicated, professionals who pride themselves on delivering a great service to our team members and guests
- I have a boss who allows me the space and autonomy to do what I do best
- I am at a point in my life where I can see the fruits of my labour and it’s great, and
- I’m investing in myself (finally…)
It’s not everyone who can say that, I get it. However, I do feel privileged and blessed.
When I look back to when my career started to take shape (some years ago now), I realised I was good at what I did (leading teams …leading being the operative word) and I wanted to keep doing it.
I started my career as a junior AP Assistant working for a glazier company. I then moved to a security company where I was thrown into the world of management. I don’t recall having much training at the time (maybe I did, but it was a long time ago). I had to manage the new junior to the team. Looking back, I don’t even know if I knew what I was doing. I hope I haven’t left too many scares on the individual….no names mentioned! The security company was growing, buying up lots of smaller companies as a result I inherited a much bigger team. People who had been at their respective companies for years before we bought them out. This is always tricky. But l liked it and from there it was onwards and upwards. Career moved on, I worked at different companies managing teams of different sizes, but always within Accounts Payable.
The biggest insight came when I completed a leadership course some 15/20 years ago. I had my first introduction to the 360-degree feedback. This was a real eye opener. I got to hear what people really thought about me. I remember when we opened the feedback there were several people in my group in tears. Yes, real tears. The feedback was too much for them to bear or accept! See, that’s the thing, you need to be able to accept the good and the bad. Maybe I was taught this early in life (probably from my mum…she always had wise words). The most difficult to read was from a very dear friend who knew me well on both a personal and professional level.
You know when you are reading something and you’re saying to yourself as you read ‘really!’. ‘am I really like that?’. I didn’t have any tears, but it made me look at myself. More importantly it made me want to use the feedback to be better and further develop myself. It was invaluable. I learned a lot about myself from this. Yes, it can be hard to read what others have written about you, but for me I was grateful for the honesty, time and effort. How do I develop if no-one is honest enough to help me focus on the areas that need developing? I learned that feedback is a gift. For those of you who remember doing this for me, I thank you!
That’s when things really took off. I did exactly that…I wanted to and got better. I took advantage of courses, mentors and my peers. In conjunction with getting better at managing teams, being the best, I can be and helping my teams do the same, I was also getting better at the fundamentals of my role. Putting processes in place to improve productivity and performance. Getting better at delivering great results and supporting, mentoring and coaching my team members. Team members were asking to join my team…that’s how good things were getting.
Not only did I want to give my team members a great experience, so they can one day relate to the points above, I also wanted the same for the suppliers in the sense that I wanted them to be paid on time. I wanted them and the wider business to know what we were doing. I wanted to set and manage expectations, give clear and concise communication and set clear objectives. I’ve decided to share this snippet of my experience with you in the hope that there’s something that you can relate to or even make you smile or a chuckle. I also wanted to do this because I found writing this quite scary, so learning to manage one’s fears has helped me.
However, writing this has made me reflect on how much I really enjoy what I do. Being the AP Manager at a privately-owned company, turnover more than £1bn and one of the largest providers of holidays and holiday home ownership in the UK.
I love it.
So, I’m investing in myself…. places to go, things to learn and barriers to overcome all in the name of development and climbing the career ladder. My journey is not over. I hope this helps you on your journey.