“If you want to keep your job (or your clients), then you need to be a good order-taker.”
While 100 percent true, that is some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
Yes – one of the easiest justifications for a boss to let you go is to think, “I asked them to do these things, and they just aren’t doing them.”
But that level of thinking is way beneath you.
Because your ultimate goal isn’t to merely “keep” your job. It’s to achieve more independence and fulfillment in your career. In most cases, you really want to “lose” your job and get a better one, right? And to succeed at that, you must go way beyond taking orders.
Obligatory disclaimer: Yes, of course, you need to complete the assignments that your bosses give you. That’s a given. The rewards and freedom come from going beyond those.
What if you’re stuck under such an onslaught of orders that it’s all you can do to keep up with them, let alone do more? I’m sorry if this comes across as harsh, but nothing is going to change unless you change. As long as you keep being excellent at completing tasks other people give you, they’re going to keep giving you more!
The top performers I work with – the ones who are on track to call their own shots about where and when they work – think ahead and anticipate their bosses’ next request. Not because they’re mind readers, but because they grasp the organizations’ business objectives and relish the responsibility to meet them. Regardless of the list of “orders” they’ve been given to fulfill.
Over time, management recognizes that they’ve got a special team member, and bosses start to back off, because they’re distracted by problems. And that frees you up to innovate and exercise your unique expertise to pursue the vital few initiatives that will deliver the most value.
And you can dive into the type of mind-bending creative work that order-takers “never have time” to even attempt. That’s the type of work that earns the best business results. And then management (or clients) do whatever it takes to keep you happy, whether that’s promotions, raises, more flexibility, or all of the above.
Have fun trying to “lose” your job :).