Do You Know the Top Three Tasks in Your Job?

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“Before you can become a world class player,  you need to become an average player.” ~Anon

To reach the top, to excel at our job, our career or whatever we put our hands and minds to, we need to do a half way decent job before aiming for the stars. Understanding the Top Three Tasks in your job is a good place to begin.

I Am New!
Have you come across people who claim little responsibility and explain away their ignorance or incompetence saying “I am new”?
When this happens to me, I make it a point to ask, “So how long have you been on this job?” Often it is not a matter of days or a few weeks, as one would expect. Hearing “I’ve been here just three months” or “seven months” or even “just over an year” is rather unexpected. But it happens often enough to justify a blog post.

When this happened in the past I used to get angry; but now, I realize they deserve pity and help.

Do you know the Top Three Tasks on your job?
In What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Full Potential, Robert Kaplan’s recommends finding out our Top Three Tasks on the job.
Not fully understanding the needs of their current job, he says “is one of the most common reasons highly skilled, passionate people fail to live up to their potential. They may be in the right job, but they haven’t done enough analysis to make the most of the opportunity. Sometimes I see these people moving from one job to another, consistently underperforming based on their potential. They’re not quite sure why.”

Disengaged and dissatisfied?
Such people are often disengaged and dissatisfied in their work life. To such people, to make it hard hitting, I’d say, it’s not the job; it’s YOU!
Knowing your Top Three Tasks is important whether you have been in a job for years or whether you just started on a new one. In my opinion, ideally this should happen before you take a job or on your first day on the job.

Every job—and so The Top Three Tasks—keep changing
In today’s world, many things are in constant flux. Consumers, their expectations and the way they do things are changing regularly. People are changing their buying habits and how they consume information. They are changing the way they connect with others and how they get things done.

Every industry, profession and organization will be affected. To remain a great fit in your current job and achieve your best potential, keep assessing the needs of your job periodically and adapt yourself for those changes. Today even remaining in one place takes a lot of effort.

Have the needs of your job changed?
Keep asking: Have the needs of my job changed? This message is particularly relevant for leaders and innovators in any field.

It is even more important if you have been promoted or your responsibilities expanded. As Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book says What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There!
A promotion means extra responsibility. You will be expected to do more, attend to a wider scope of work and to perform at a higher level than before. You may be required to supervise, coach and mentor others. You may have to delegate some of your workload in order to achieve all that you must in the new position.

If you had been excellent at your previous job, now you are called upon to remain excellent at those same tasks; and at the same time handle wider responsibilities. Your top three tasks have changed. You’ll need to upgrade your skills to perform well at the new job.

Spend a big chunk of time on your key tasks
Allocate enough time to become good at them. Mastery very rarely comes without practice. Spending time on favorite tasks is a common trap people fall into.
Show up not just physically but also in your mind. Marshal your brain power on the job and stay focused. You need to be determined to do well at your Top Three Tasks.

Watch out for trends and prepare
Mega global trends already in motion are going to affect you, your job and your organization. Keep an eye on the trends so you know what changes to expect, what new skills you must develop. To thrive, not merely survive, prepare ahead of time.

Prepare yourself for the marathon of life. Leadership, innovation and creativity are all things you can develop with effort. You can master anything provided you are willing to put in the effort and the time. But make sure that, at the root of all your focus are your Top Three Tasks. That is what will determine the future of your current job, and perhaps, even your career.

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About rcullen2015

I am an author, attorney, mediator and Professor of Law at the Santa Clara University. My first book was 'The Leading Lawyer, a Guide to Practicing Law and Leadership'. Now I am working on a book about 3S: Success, Significance and Satisfaction for the 50+ crowd.
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