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Managing Yourself

It's important to claim responsibility for your own career and take motivation even from the darkest of days, says Tom Cox, operations manager at Modulift.

How you develop your own career is up to you. Employers, managers, colleagues, etc. should be handed only supporting roles in your success story!

Signing a contract with a company doesn't mean you've relinquished control of your future. It's not an easy option either; it's where the hard work begins. Some people have a tendency to expect too much to be handed to them on a plate. Starting a new position at a company should be approached with the same determination, drive, tenacity, and enthusiasm.

If a manager is holding back an individual there's often a good reason behind it and it's usually got something to do with the elements of a person's career that they're responsible for. Advancement shouldn't be handed to anyone who has been operating at 80% or counting down the days to someone in a more senior role moves onto a new challenge. Progression should be reserved for those who earn it. A company can only accelerate a career so quickly but it's possible to test the speed barrier:

Ask questions.

Take notes.

Challenge everything.

Conduct research.

Become an expert.

Take courses.

Work extremely hard.

Repeat.

The early bird

I find it incredibly useful to get to my desk before the office is busy so I can go through emails and make a plan of action for the day ahead. Few people are at their best playing catch-up. It's not a competition in who can arrive earliest, however; it's about making that time productive so there's less pressure at other moments. As soon as the two teams that I look after report for duty, for example, I'm ready to help them tackle the challenges of the day.

This is particularly important as a career progresses and an individual has to take on board greater responsibility, which is how my career with Modulift has taken shape.

I started off as a Production Assistant on a temporary contract, quickly moving across several depts. including Procurement, Production, then into the newly developed Projects team (there is a theme with P's in this) finally resulting in my current role as Ops Manager.

Not all career moves have to be upwards – sideways moves to gain greater experience and knowledge will often help you get up the career ladder, which is how I'm now in a managerial role, something I aspired to do when joining the company.

As I sit alongside our sales team I'm often asked for advice as to what is required, say, on a custom project where I can draw on previous experiences to ensure we meet the customers needs in the most efficient and effective way possible.I've learnt a lot about leadership and mentorship from managers and company directors. It doesn't matter what a business does or whether it's bespoke custom, engineered or off-the-shelf products, the sharing of information is key to progression of individuals, departments, and entire businesses. Think of the intelligence that exists at a company based on previous successes—and failures.

Spiritual alignment

I'm fortunate that my career progression has been a good one at Modulift, and that I have been fully supported over the years. However I am aware that not everyone has the same opportunity that I have had. What I can commentate on with confidence, however, is the hallmarks that you can look for when workforce and employer click.

I've picked three: For starters, it's necessary to enjoy work and it helps greatly if strong relationships can be forged with colleagues. Also, employers have got to reward staff members that go above and beyond the call of duty. And, finally, it's great if a growth curve is being enjoyed by business and employee alike, not only in terms of revenue. I'm excited about our new factory opening this year, for example.

There will inevitably be bumps in the road. Some of them will be bigger than others. I'll resist an obvious cliché or quote from a Rocky movie, but it's true that it's not the getting knocked down; it's the getting back up. I'd like to share with you the biggest challenge I've had to overcome, which was the death of my best friend of 15 years back in 2013. I had only been at the company a couple of years. I was with him at the time; we were riding our motorbikes together and he was involved in a fatal collision. I took it badly and had to rely on the support of Modulift, for which I will always be grateful, to give me time to recover. But I used the accident as inspiration to work twice as hard as before. Somehow I feel like my achievements are now collective and I owe him a successful life in his absence.

There's not more to life than working hard. But there is more to life than work. My wife and daughter make me tick in and out of the workplace. They are a constant source of motivation alongside my late friend. That doesn't mean a lost acquaintance, family member, or any other person have to be someone else's source of inspiration, but it helps to see a bigger picture. On the bad days, it's comforting to have a reason to keep going.

The beauty of hindsight

I didn't set out to write a blog about education and recruitment, more my experiences once in the workplace, but given the opportunity I will encourage anyone to consider their options carefully when moving into employment. I truly believe I would have been on a successful career path a lot quicker had I taken the apprenticeship route, mainly because I find it easier to learn difficult subjects when they are related back to real-life scenarios, which is exactly what an apprenticeship does. I'm sure other people are the same. Trigonometry meant nothing to me at school, but in the engineering of a below-the-hook rig, it comes to life.

I'd also suggest that prospective employees should look beyond the supposed glamour of an industry. Of course, many a young engineer aspires to work for a Formula 1 manufacturer, but the same skills can be applied with just as much reward in a lesser-known sector. Look at lifting and spreader beams, for example. It was apparent to me even in my early days that the industry presented huge variety in products and the applications where the equipment is used. It's always worth looking deeper; think of the everyday scenarios where lifting gear is required. They're everywhere.

I know Modulift is always looking for enthusiastic people and I'd be delighted to meet you as a colleague one day soon. It's an exciting time with cranes getting bigger and demand for custom solutions increasing all the time. Our newly established projects team is solely dedicated to working on custom orders to ensure they are manufactured to a customer's specific requirements. The new factory will invigorate the business further and is bound to create new opportunities for professionals at all stages of their careers.

Take responsibility for your future and we'll help you along the way.

Thank you for reading.

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