Engineer professional relevance among every team member

After three hours of driving, it felt good to be home with much of the evening still at my disposal. The warm night, billions of stars and fresh air cast a happy spell, but another feeling welled up inside me — professional relevance was taking shape.

The building blocks of this new awareness were the check I carried for speaking at the conference, the favorable evaluations of my deliverable and the ease with which I had earned both. Almost expecting a well-timed shooting star, I wondered why this felt different than all the other times I’d delivered a program and got paid for it.

Something was different — how easy it was becoming to deliver my specialty. There was little self-doubt or second guessing — they liked the topic and could use it immediately. The match between “client” and “vendor” was perfect. I charged a good price, and they willingly paid it. These elements, like the promise of alchemy, made me feel like gold — professionally relevant.

From startup into the steady-on phase and finally as an established operation, every enterprise can benefit by engineering as much professional relevance as possible among each member of the team. The feeling is worth more than money alone. There are few things in our world that motivate more than learning good skills, accurately and easily applying them and receiving fair compensation.

My definition of professional relevance is: “A satisfying career milestone when a) you apply your talents and skills with ease; b) your work is valued by clients and employers; c) you are fairly compensated. The result is a transcending feeling of relevance and worthiness.

Here are four questions you or your company can ask to uncover what professional relevance is for you.

What do I offer? This includes your training and expertise along with your network of referrals and collaboration. It also suggests that you explore your sense of meaning and significance.

What does the client receive? Your answer should include valuable and unique benefits your clients or employer gets from you. This also explores how well your clients/employer can apply what you offer and how they are better by accessing your services.

What do I receive? Here’s where you list your feelings of pride and fairness, along with how your compensation translates into a good career and a decent, honorable life.

What are my thoughts and emotions on money and compensation? Your feelings about money often determine how much of it you make. Here is where you analyze any guilt about money and how comfortable you are discussing it.

In “The Road to Optimism,” J. Mitchell Perry and I wrote about paying your dues. We listed survival, achievement and legacy as dues you pay on your path to career accomplishment. The first two are step-wise levels of dues leading to commensurate rewards. The curve ball comes with legacy dues. This higher level of dues requires the addition of patience as the rewards are almost always late.

These next items test for professional relevance now and in your future.

• People go out of their way to thank you for what you do.

• What you do makes the world a better place.

• Years later, people tell you of the impact you made on them.

• Sometimes you smile when thinking about what you do for your clients.

• You rarely feel jealous of other professionals or their careers.

• You would choose your current profession all over again.

• You generally sleep well on most nights.

Gazing up at a sky clear enough to spot the Milky Way might lift anyone’s spirits. For me, that lovely evening highlighted an overwhelmingly good feeling I had from delivering a service with ease, to people who appreciated it and paid me well for it.

Rick Griggs is founder of the Griggs Mastery Academy for professional development. He can be reached at or 970-690-7327.


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