Commercial awareness is critical to career success

by | May 29, 2017

commercial awareness

[Tweet "Commercial awareness is one of the most sought after employability skills"], yet it is also one that many women lack.  When I talk about commercial awareness I mean an understanding of your organisation's objectives and the value that each person adds to the end goal. Even not-for profit organisations have goals which can be measured.  

I coach many women who are unable to connect their role to the objectives of their organisation and get stuck in process mode. They frequently struggle to identify, let alone mention, the key metrics of their activities or their achievements. In basic terms they don’t know their numbers, which is what commercial awareness is all about. That information should be at your fingertips.

Read: How to create an effective success story

Missing commercial awareness

Communication Habits for Successful Leader

Knowing your numbers makes you stand out

Malia is an account manager for a software company and couldn’t quote the number of leads she had generated in the past 6 months and the value of the business she had converted from those prospects.

Diane was unable to quote the total savings in a change management project she had led.  

Sian implemented process effectiveness changes at a crisis help line organisation.  She could not remember how many calls a day the help line received or  the emergency response time was for first responders to reach a scene. This was not really about recall issues, because it seemed she had never monitored them  ( and therefore committed them to memory)  in the first place.

[Tweet "When you don’t know your numbers you get trapped in wordy messages"] that frequently become clichéd and lack meaning.  I saw recently:

 “Effective change agent,  crisis manager,  business turn around leader.”  

I had no idea what it meant. A crisis could be a merger, takeover, economic down turn or a blocked loo. What sorts of businesses, crises and changes? What were the outcomes? What was the problem and what was your role in the solution.

When we buy a lap top we want to have some information on the basic features (weight, operating system, colours, memory, hard drive etc.) The main questions will be centred around what value that lap top can add,  how we can benefit from it, the problem it solves and how we can best use it for our own purposes. If we hire someone we need to know where and how they add value and also how quickly can they do that. Numbers help make your case more persuasive. [Tweet "When you know your own numbers it helps to anchor success stories and achievements."] Frequently  women say to me after they have done the numbers exercise, that they had never realised how good they were. That is why organisations get away with paying them less than their male colleagues. The bosses know how good they are even if the women don't.    

Highlighting commercial awareness at every point in your career is critical to career success. Without it you will get left behind.

Need to build and anchor your success stories? Contact 3Plus now!

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she joins the dots between organisations, individuals, opportunity and success.
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