Value add, or value creation, is a term that has been around for a long time and a term that I don’t think is going to run out of destiny. The whole concept of business and employment revolves around this concept. We exist to impact in line with a purpose. Anything other than this is just a hobby. In a profit-based organisation we employ you to add more value than you cost the organisation. But can you even measure value in the workplace?  

Changing work environments add to the complexity of this subject.

There is much conversation around ‘work from home’ or ‘work from work.’ I have found some dogmatic advocates for both philosophies. Some shake their heads with annoyance just at the notion that people can be trusted to do good work from home. Whilst others are equally animated in declaring that home is a ‘right,’ and home enables work.   

I’m sure this debate is only at its infant stage and will take on many further twists and turns as technology advances and our world seemingly moves from one crisis to the next.  

I believe that work primarily is not defined by a place but by an experience and an outcome. Sometimes this outcome and experience are place dependent with little room for compromise, but regardless, what matters is what we produce. And this impacts the overall effectiveness of a team, aswell.  This is well captured by author and consultant Tony Schwartz who says…

‘It is not the number of hours that you put into your work that determines your productivity, but rather the value you create during those hours.’

Are You Adding Value in The Workplace? Here’s 4 Simple Ways to Measure.
Can you measure value add in the workplace?

Well, I don’t think it’s an easy ‘push the button’ answer for most professions. But there are appropriate contexts to consider when asking this question. Here’s what I believe are the most important four:

1. We add value when we have intimate knowledge

There is this beautiful scene in the movie ‘Shall We Dance’ where Mrs. Clark puts the womanizing private investigator in his place. She asks him, ‘why do people get married?’ He replies with confidence, with passion. She responds….

‘Nope. Because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage you are promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”  

Mrs Clark values her relationship with John Clark because he has intimate knowledge of her. He makes the unimportant and mundane, important. We live in a world where knowledge abounds. All we need to do is Google a subject. And this has brought many benefits to us; and yet, there is a limit to public theoretical knowledge. When we find someone who has an intimate knowing and experience of our own dance, we find something priceless. An employee who just ‘gets it,’ who knows the dance of employer, and who knows what matters at a heart level, is more likely to be value adding than the guy who just doesn’t get it.

To demonstrate your value, demonstrate knowledge of the soul of the organisation.
Demonstrate that you are not a clone, but rather a person who empathises and cares not only about the big issues but about the mundane yet important attributes that make an organisation what it is. 

2. We add value when we do what matters

Staying with the movies, lets go to that classic scene from Jerry McGuire where Rod, the professional athlete, passionately says to his agent Jerry, “show me the money.”

In this changeroom scene, Jerry is desperately trying to show Rod how busy he is, but Rod isn’t interested. Only one thing matters to Rod, and that’s the MONEY! I have learnt this simple yet profound insight: busyness is not a sign of effectiveness. All too often we equate the hustle as value, but hustle in the wrong direction is worthless. Value multiplies when you prioritize what truly matters to others.  Seth Godin puts it like this…

“One of my books took more than a year to write, ten hours a day. Another took three weeks. Both sell for the same price. The quicker one outsold the other 20 to 1.

The cost of something is largely irrelevant, people are paying attention to its value.

Your customers don’t care what it took for you to make something. They care about what it does for them.”

Many years ago, as a young manger in big corporate, my boss taught me a valuable lesson that I’ve never forgotten. The lesson was a one liner. I was proposing investment in a project that would cost a couple million South African rand. She wasn’t uninterested, but she had one question. “Mike show me how this will make us sell more OMO.”

I was flabbergasted. My project had nothing to do with OMO washing powder, and yet what she was saying was, ‘we add value when what we do is aligned to what matters to us.’ 

Are You Adding Value in The Workplace? Here’s 4 Simple Ways to Measure.

3. We add value in the workplace when we deliver a trophy

Life is a sum of small and big moments where your breath is taken away. In the movie Hitch, actor Will Smith powerfully says,

“It not how many breaths you take that matter, but rather how many times your breath is taken away.” 

It doesn’t matter what you do or how mundane your job is. All of us have within us the ability to deliver a trophy where success is celebrated and the world changes. Sometimes it’s the creation of a new performance record, and sometimes it’s the idea that transforms something as small yet relevant as the organisations canteen area. 

The question that’s really at stake is, what will you be remembered for?  

All too often, too many people have lived a corporate life of resigned compliance. Never changing or shifting something within the organisation to enable it to be better, more impactful, more connected. Trophies require challenging the status quo with the intention of making things better. 

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin delivered a trophy when they focussed on the value add of search, rather than seeing search as a commodity. In doing so, they changed our lives, and the way we embrace and access information. 

Trophies tend to take us away from status quo, challenging paradigms, moving the world forward. Sometimes they are huge and sometimes they are small. But they all add up to shifting normal and creating some form of movement into ‘better than before.’ 

4. We add value in the workplace when we bring a little bit of magic

All of us are replaceable. There are thousands and thousands of people who can do what you do and probably even more effectively. But when you add a little bit of your own personal magic into what you do, you potentially become indispensable. 

This magic often has nothing to do with the professional skills you bring to your job.  Most often its grounded in character, personality, and subtle shifts of endearment. Author Edith Eger of the bestselling book ‘The Choice’, says,

“Only you can do what you can do the way you can do it.”

Have you ever heard somebody say something like, “I know I can get it cheaper/better, but what (name) brings to us, far out ways cost or outcome.”

Think of the movie Forrest Gump. Would you want Forrest on your team? You could probably name a few reasons why you would not want him – professionalism, etiquette, etc. But then think of the gift he would bring. The gift of no limitations, of innocence, passion, and childlike playfulness. Think of how those qualities transform work and are often priceless. 

“Miracles happen every day. Some people don’t think so, but they do.” 

  • Forrest Gump 

Adding value in the workplace requires that we allow strengths to shine and that we show up with good intent, willing to take the high road. As per Mary Anne Williamson’s words, it requires that we…

“…ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” 

Value is found in this type of magic, this type of strength. People who show up to impact the world in which they live, positively. 

Are You Adding Value in The Workplace? Here’s 4 Simple Ways to Measure.
So let’s recap. Are you adding value in the workplace? Well…
  1. Do you have intimate knowledge of what matters to those who employ you – their dance – and does this knowledge demonstrate itself? 
  2. Are your actions meaningful? Are in line with what matters to those who employ you? 
  3. Are there trophies in the cabinet that have your name on? Or to put it another way, will people remember what you did, when you are no longer there?
  4. Do you bring a ‘kind magic’ into the workplace? 

The above might not be scientifically measurable, but ask those around you, and you will probably have a better answer than what science can deliver. 

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