Have you ever encountered the question – “What is your USP” in an interview? Most of the candidates fumble when this question is put up. They either have not worked on developing a skill set or they don’t know about it. Most of the industries and businesses provide the time to the new candidates to specialize in a particular field or area. They also support them with the relevant training programs.
Production performance: Let us try to understand the concept through some examples. People are very happy to work on production lines in the industry as it gives them very good growth prospects to rise to the CEO position one day. They are very happy to collect and highlight the production figures to everyone on a daily basis. They take special pride in announcing that they made 8 more numbers today and set a new benchmark. A Japanese gentleman asked the production in-charge – “what did you do today?” The production supervisor proudly replied – “I did the production of 2434 parts today.” The Japanese smiled and said, “the workers did the production, what did you do?” The production in-charge fumbled and said I managed them. The Japanese just laughed and went away. The production in-charge stood there totally puzzled.
Desired output: It is that way in most of the offices and industry. We are generally doing our work and we have not specialized at anything. The Japanese would have been pleased if the production in-charge had said “I used the problem-solving technique at the bottleneck machine. By resolving the issue, we were able to increase the production by 1 part per hour on this machine. So the line output has gone up by 8 parts today. Here is the methodology we followed….”
The skill set: There are so many areas where you can specialize and greatly enhance your skills. You hear a lot about computer programmers who develop software skills. Similarly, there are people who develop very good man-management skills. These human resource managers can motivate and control a large number of people by putting their skills to use.
USP: The mastery in the skill set becomes your unique selling point (USP) and will remain with you for your entire career. The best time to acquire it is in the early part of your career when you are in the learning phase. Just go with the area that interests you and you will see the things falling in place around you. Push the HR guy and your boss to get you the requisite training till you master the art. You will get the time to experiment; make the mistakes and hone your skills.
Change of strategy: But there is a catch. As you reach the middle management stage of your career, the USP carries you through with flying colors. From here the strategies will change as a broader outlook is required to move into the senior management. Not that you do away with your skill set, but from now on it becomes one of the career advancement tools. Remember that we talked about conviction as the hallmark of the people with successful careers. A strong skill set, where none of your colleagues can challenge you, forms the stepping stone to career advancement.
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