Steel pipe is separate from the steel market due to one major factor, steel pipe is price driven by coil versus general steel shape products such as angle, channel, and beam. Coil must be made from a slab (vs a billet) and that coil market drives the pricing in the steel market. Coil is used in the automotive, appliance and any other industry that uses sheet. Since coil may be in short supply or high supply it is the availability and price of coil that drives steel pipe pricing at any given moment.
In a recent discussion with a couple of our Divison Managers, the topic came up. How do we explain the “thing” that “gets you noticed”? The thing that makes the boss say, “That is the person I want on my team.” ” That is the person I want to take to the next level.” I was frustrated because, if I can’t explain it to myself, then how the hell do I explain it to a valued associate without insulting them? It’s not about working longer, or staying later, it’s about your efficiencies during the day. It’s about taking the blinders off to see what is going on around you. There is always a juncture with an associate where they have reached a point they feel they deserve a raise or a promotion, that usually results in a manager sitting down and pointing out all the small flaws in the associates game, how they need to think like a manager, act like a manager etc etc. What the hell does that mean anyway?? There are a lot of bad managers!!! In my experience that has led to the employee feeling down, frustrated and crushed because they felt they were doing a good job. (And they were most time) Then we sometimes lose a good associate out of frustration. They are thinking “he treated me fine yesterday and now I’m am a failure?? How did that happen??”
(Side note: if you ask the question, be ready for the answer as you may need to improve your own game if you cant show up on time, you may want to avoid the question of “how do I get a raise around here?”)
In our discussion it came to me…what separates the average, or the good from the great- it is taking advantage of chances to shine. I’ll try and explain… In life, business and marriage there are chances to shine, “opportunities” , if you will, to shine. A chance to make a difference. These always take extra effort and work, I don’t care how many people tell you otherwise. To get noticed you have to do a very simple thing, Pay attention and work at it. Work at it all the time! I am not talking about bringing your boss coffee in the morning, I am talking about real issues that make the business move, sales solutions, new markets, operational efficiencies, etc.
Now that being said don’t confuse a chance to shine with being a decision-maker. It has nothing to do with making decisions. Have you ever heard “if I could make the decisions, I know exactly what I would do”. Well, then why don’t you voice that? The problem is; many times the new manager wants to make a decision for the sake of making a decision not an intelligent, educated decision. The first questions in any decisions are; Do I have to make the decision right now? Do I have an expert to help me? am I an expert? Have I done my research? Many owner/executives lack the time to do the research and that is why some Ideas or suggestions just never seem to come to fruition, frustrating staff and causing inefficiencies. This is exactly the point where you can shine.
You need to look for chances to shine. Don’t be so naive to think that if you are putting a bunch of effort into something you won’t get noticed. It may take a day, a year or 5 years but someone will notice. Paying attention and being a facilitator/problem solver will allow people to see you. You need to put so much effort into something that you cannot help but be noticed. That causes people to say, “ That’s the right person for the job for sure” When there are ideas on the table, take them on, research them, provide the intel to allow them to be implemented. Be early, not late. If someone under you is struggling, learn the job together, help them through it, make them better. Take on things and own them like they were yours. Become someone that people rely on to become an expert. (Again this has nothing to do with decision making) Your supervisor will then turn to you because they know you will do the work, do the research and provide the best options possible. Not all of your research will be implemented, not all of your hard work will produce results and many times you may be the bearer of bad news, that something won’t work, but you will get noticed and you will be appreciated. Do these things often and accurately and that will give you the chance to be a decision-maker. What your supervisor is looking for is people that make educated, researched, intelligent decisions, not just decisions.
These chances to shine happen every day and people just pop by them with excuses like, “I don’t know anything about that”. “Not my Job” “I don’t have time” “I’ll do it when they pay me to do it” or they are so wrapped up in their social media, games or other apps that they don’t see their opportunity to shine. If you make a difference and make everything better around you then your effort will be seen, rewarded and appreciated. Your manager/boss needs help and if you listen, you will know exactly how to help. That will get you a raise, that will get you a promotion, that will make you valuable to the team. You have to find these chances to shine every day, there is no shining moment and then you are done it is an all-the-time-thing, not a some-of-the-time-thing. Do that, and you probably never have to ask for a promotion or a raise again.
Yes, I play this game and I am not embarrassed about it. My favorite game is team-based, providing for a diverse experience each time I play. Crazier yet is losing to kids that haven’t even made it through middle school. So, you may be asking how can anything related to leadership be learned in this online game competing against youngsters with no life experience, in a game that is unrealistic or fake. Great questions.
Let me start with this premise. Losing to kids not even out of middle school causes one to be humble, and yeah, maybe mad sometimes. This is my first leadership lesson. Never assume talent, ability, or know-how based on age. Can we please just stop with the millennial generalizations while we’re at it? We can generalize negatives about any age group. We can also choose to generalize positives about any age group. I lose to talented “people”, not millennials, or baby boomers.
Next, there is a piece to this game that intrigues me far greater than the diversity. See, this game requires a player to “rank up” with 55 levels of ranking. Get ranked up and more tools open up, more advantage opens up. When and if you get to level 55 the game deems you an expert. And then, just as in life, just after you’re deemed an expert, you have a choice to make. It’s a big one, too! You can either stay at level 55 with all the advantages and perks you’ve earned or, you can enter “Prestige Mode.” Let’s talk about “Prestige Mode” for a minute. Why would one choose to give up all advantage to virtually start over? What is there to prove?
Here is the second leadership lesson. Prestiging is like work life. We spend an unknown amount of time becoming experts, and then, some of us are asked to start over as a manager or leaders. Maybe we are asked to change departments and learn a new skill set, or asked to change offices or move across the country to a new team. Or how about being asked to take on a special project, or work with employees we don’t know or care for—the list goes on. When provided that opportunity, how do you react? Will you press the button to Prestige or will you decline and declare expertise and comfort?
Now there are plenty of COD players who choose to not prestige, just as many employees bask in the accomplishment of expertise and hold steadfast in their refusal to reset. This is the third leadership lesson. Reset or not? Reworded, risk or not? What makes a person choose one or the other? Here’s my take away. For some in the game, just as in life, the reset is done for self-aggrandizement. Yet, I surmise that most reset because they are explorers, self-challengers, artisans of the game they are choosing to play. Young and old alike, COD shows there are plenty willing to give up their status and perks to prove they can start over, and still rise to a new level of “expert.”
It took me over a month of play time, but I achieved that level 55 status and I was faced with the decision. For me, the decision to stay status quo, versus Prestige was made in seconds—of course, I prestiged. In fairness, COD is a game. I am not recommending life-altering decisions be made in seconds. But I am recommending that when the chance comes, and I wish for you that chance to happen, you take a deep breath and find the courage to make the change, to take the Prestige. This step of Prestiging is a period for immense knowledge growth. You see, at this point, you know the basics of the job, and acquiring new skills becomes the primary focus. And for those of you just starting a career, or school, or a project, work hard to get to the perks, or what I call the “good stuff.”
Here is a demonstrative from a work environment. When a person starts a job, they spend time learning the culture, politics, the silos of work teams, as well as their primary job duties. Once learned they might be offered a promotion. If taken, this would be the Prestige. New duties must be learned, but the culture, the politics, the silos remain the same. You are now in a period of immense growth potential.
Hard work, persistence, and allowing experts around you to bolster you regardless of their background or age, will provide for your security, and ultimately a chance to make a decision related to your future. Will you Prestige, or will you remain status quo.
There are other leadership lessons I have learned playing this game. I will save those for my next blog. As for now, my Xbox controller is calling my name.