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It is normal for people to want to identify with traits highly regarded in today's job market: ambition — creativity, professional development aspirations, etc. In reality, however, many people do find some of the celebrated traits well beyond their comfort zone.
They may be more adaptable in an environment that is based on stability, predictability and sustainable growth.
Both groups are important to have in any business. Every company needs to have these two types of workers collaborating to achieve the company immediate and long-term goals. With that in mind, it is important to know exactly what work style fits your personality and stick with it.
If you're great at following existing procedures and structures, play up your abilities. If you enjoy looking at how things can be revamped or changed to produce better results, go for it.
In either case, here are a few questions that you should answer first.
What are your professional goals?
Similar to the usual interview question about where you see yourself in five years, think of your short- and long-term goals. If your goals revolve around doing your best and excelling within the current system, this may be the time to learn how to build your knowledge and advance.
If your goals revolve around creating new experience and advancing quickly through drastic changes to your workplace and your job description, then applying your creative thinking may be the way to go. The only thing that you will need to decide is where to place this critical thinking and whether it's accepted and approved by the supervisors.
What's the best balance?
At almost every workplace there is some balance that might be achieved between the two styles. No one can thrive on total compliance or constant change. The right balance for you should be based on your comfort level as well as work requirements, which means this balance can change from time to time.
In many cases, you may find that you need to just get work done. In other cases, you may find yourself looking for alternative ways to get work done more effectively.
The point is if you find that your edge is in one approach or another, that won't mean that you should solely follow that route. Experiment a little bit with work that falls beyond your comfort zone to make sure the job is done as expected. You may find out the perceptions are not as accurate as you thought.
Are you just starting?
Regardless to your career or industry, if just starting out you may need to learn the basics first before advancing to recreating the processes. That is also true if you're starting a new job — unless you've several years of management experience that enable you to jump in and make radical changes from the get-go.
Otherwise, for almost everyone who needs to get attuned to a new job, the best approach is to look into how things are being done first before advancing to how they can be done differently. In addition, ask questions to know the rationale for things that appear not to make sense.
Doing so, sure that you are not falling into a mistake committed before or missing out on the big picture.
How realistic is your creativity?
Based on your employer's size and resources, your creative thinking may be pushing the limits or not. Of course, it is always good to test the limits, but still you might want to bring your creative thinking to work within what can be done.
To do so, get familiar with the employer's team and capabilities. Ask for reasonable changes to be done gradually and avoid having your plans hinge on big-ticket items (like software). The more doable your changes are, the more likely people will be willing to work with you on implementing them.
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor