I’ve been working on these shop rules for a while now. In fact, I posted them on my wall back in 2006, but haven’t done anything to share them. The headlines are part of a speech by Megan Perkins Parker, currently account supervisor at Edelman, given at Communication Day at BYU Idaho on September 28, 2006:
- Know what is going on… in the world, in the industry, in your company. If you know, you can compete. This is one of the reasons for social networks. Subscribe to blogs and get a twitter account. You may not have a lot to say to start out with, but you can join the discussion and there are always new articles to read.
Knowing what’s going on is especially important within your company and with your clients. Remember the small and simple things. Turning a small key can open a large door. Pay attention to the little things that show clients they are important.
- Be credible. Do what you say you can do. Do not set the bar low, but be honest. At least under-promise and over-deliver (but be careful with this one). If you know what you can achieve, what is possible to deliver to the client, be honest. Whatever you do, don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
- Be committed, be positive. Decide to commit to the job, that you will get the job done. It is up to you to make the grass greener. Don’t be a LIFO – Last In First Out.
While working at the University of Idaho in Idaho Falls, I saw a need for developing a new method to deliver courses to asynchronous students. I could have whined at my supervisors, but instead I wrote a grant proposal. And guess what, it was approved! Now we’ve got everything I need to implement this new idea. What can you do?
- Plow to the fences. Effective farmers will plow even to the little corners of the fields. Trust me. I live in rural Idaho. Every day I drive into my office and pass fields with rotary irrigation pipes. The fields, however, are rectangular. The farmers of these fields still plow to the corners of these fields, and get out in the wee hours to move pipes for irrigating them. 90% of design is persistence to detail. I don’t know how many times I’ve taken over a project because someone else misspelled a few words or used the wrong logo.
- Think ahead and be proactive. The way to get ahead in any company is to keep the company looking good. Look for and do more than you know needs done. If you work for a firm, this helps with job security and promotions. If you work freelance, this helps with networking and self-promotion. Either way, it keeps you in business.
- You are NOT entitled to anything. There are no welfare departments in successful companies. You are out there to prove yourself. This is what you’ve decided to do as a career. It is your work, your art, your craft, your destiny. Work for it!
- You will make mistakes. One mistake repeated is not a mistake, but a bad habit. Don’t make the same mistakes again. Now, you may be thinking you don’t make mistakes. Do you really? Or do you not take the time to notice them? Maybe you’re just really that good that you don’t make mistakes. Have you improved in anything lately? No? That’s your mistake. You can always do better at something.
- Be responsive. Tell the client/superior/vendor/audience what’s going on! Constructive criticism is about making the work better. I’ve worked for clients and employers whose ideal situation was to leave everything up to me without expecting so much as a weekly checkin. Great for getting things done right? Wrong. If I hadn’t been proactive to keep them updated, I’d have missed changes internally that didn’t get communicated to me.
There’s the parable of the jet that flies around Earth’s equator, but get’s off by one degree. By the time it completes the flight it’s off by 500 miles. Keep in contact so you can correct course often.
- Set your vision and achieve milestones. Set goals and communicate the milestones. This is the same as having a plan. How will you know what you want to achieve without a plan. Next, do YOUR OWN personal PR/Advertising. This one is probably the easiest but most overlooked. I’m as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes its hard to keep yourself out there in the public eye. Fortunately, we’ve got all the tools to make it easy. You don’t have to walk and knock doors to get in front of people. All you need is to devote a little bit of time.