How to be a strategic business partner

Lucy Brazier, CEO of Marcham Publishing, spoke on the administrative professional’s opportunities for contributing at very high levels in a presentation at Admin Pro Forum 2018. It was advice that can apply to anyone who’s looking around their office and thinking, “How do I get ahead here without waiting for a new position to open up? What can I do right now to become a player?”

Well, it’s one thing to be ambitious and driven; it’s another to gain the credibility necessary to be noticed. To become a superstar at work, you need to begin by extending your knowledge of the job to knowledge of the organization itself. This gives you the ability to talk to management with greater skill and professional bearing.

Brazier challenged conference attendees to discover the following about their companies:

1. Its business areas. What are each of its products, and the key features of them? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are the true profit centers, and what are the products that are regarded as necessary but not terrific for the bottom line?

2. Its brand. Can you list five or ten words about what the organization stands for? This might actually take some long-term observation: There’s often a disconnect between what the company thinks of itself and how the staff perceives it.

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3. Its competitive advantage. What does the company do better than others? How long can this advantage last?

4. Its geographical footprint. What is its market reach? Where does it sell its products, and to what demographics and cultures?

5. Its stakeholders. What are the values and expectations of the customers as well as the people who rely on the company for a living? Do the people around you seem truly invested in the place, and how loyal are those customers?

6. Its direction. Where is it going? Who’s deciding that path? Certainly you have some ideas of your own about it. Proceed only when you’re armed with the concrete facts you’ve discovered during your explorations.