Seven Steps to a More Successful Career By Jeffrey Uthoff
Wearing different hats is not as easy as it seems. For the past 20+ years, I can no longer count how many hats I’ve worn while working for different companies in various parts of the world. I’ve occupied different functions in ranks as well, from marketing/sales, operations, customer relationship management, up to executive level. I have learned from experiences, both good and bad and as the newly appointed president of TELUS International Philippines (TIP), I’m continuing to learn so much. There are things that helped me get to where I am today, and that will forever have an impact in my life.
Have great passion and work hard to succeed. As a child I was never sure what I wanted to be, when I grow up. I envied other kids that seemed to have a plan for their future. My parents did instill in me though, a desire to make something of myself and to give my best in whatever I did. I was committed to getting a degree that could provide me with opportunities. I also worked hard to distinguish myself, even in the entry level jobs I first took after college. It was not easy. I encountered challenges and made difficult decisions. I learned that if you have great passion and work hard to succeed, you will eventually get great opportunities.
Take criticisms as catalyst for growth.One thing that I have learned is to look at criticisms as challenges. Some people tend to dwell on criticisms too much, to the point that their performance or relationships are affected. It is okay to feel hurt by criticisms, but you learn from them. I remember feeling frustrated when I was given negative feedback, especially when I was starting my career, considering how hard I was trying. Later, I realized that when supervisors criticize, it’s to help you grow. Use criticisms as catalyst for improvement. Take them positively and learn from them. If at any point in your career, you are not getting constructive feedback, ask for it, so you can continue to grow!
Place great value on relationships. It is not easy to build strong relationships with everyone you work with, but work hard at it. Treat all with the respect and caring they are entitled to, regardless of their rank or status. Learn also to be a good listener and smile and engage people sincerely. Another thing that has helped build good relationships with my colleagues is being very transparent. I make sure that I am a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy, generous with praise, but also with constructive feedback.
Know your people. As much as you want others to know you, you also need to know your people. When I got my first supervisory position, I realized quickly that it’s not just about letting your team get to know you. More importantly, you really need to get to know your team members, individually. This allows you to support them, challenge them and bring out the best in them. I think relationships and investing in people are the main reasons for the success I have enjoyed in my career.
Keep your people happy and motivated. This is one of the greatest challenges in the outsourcing industry, where I’ve worked for more than two decades. In the outsourcing world, competition is tough and industry players are continuously exploring creative strategies to acquire and keep talents. Again, if you know your colleagues, keeping them happy, engaged and motivated is so much easier. At TIP, we strive to make sure our team members have a work-life balance and that our culture is based on fun and respect. Aside from our recognition and rewards scheme, we also provide recreational activities and support interest groups that help team members relax and bring out their creative side, and give them a sense of importance within the company.
Keep communication lines open. Communication is another key to a successful business. It is a platform for learning about the company from different perspectives. Keeping an open-door policy in the workplace minimizes challenges, and helps address issues and problems faster and more effectively. As part of the senior leadership team, I try to be accommodating and approachable so my people know that they can come to my office and talk to me about anything. It not only allows me to interact with everyone, but also lets me see the company from my team’s perspective. I learned a long time ago that you get better insights from the front line, on what is really happening in your work environment!
Keep your feet on the ground and don’t take yourself too seriously. My parents instilled this in me and it has served me well in business. Being confident is one thing, letting it get to your head is another thing. You cannot succeed if you see yourself as the only capable individual in your organization or even the most important. Keep in mind that the company’s success depends on every member. Remember that no matter where you are now, you once started from the beginning, and you strove hard to become successful, one step at a time. Remember always to smile, say “Hello” and have fun!