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Career Counselor
The Benefit of Taking Calculated Risks

March/April 2008 Much like a hypothesis is an educated guess, not a shot in the dark, so is a calculated risk. Although applying innovative ideas in the workplace is a good best practice, it's not one that comes easily to most professionals. As you embark upon a career in the finance arena, be sure to exercise creative thinking when approaching any assignment or project.

Coming up with unique ways to work smarter and solve problems teaches you to think like an entrepreneur, rather than an employee. Here are a few suggestions for gearing your thoughts toward innovation in the workplace: 

Choose the right time to suggest changes. During your first few days on a new job, you're likely to notice policies and practices that, to your way of thinking, could be improved. Even if you have a fresh idea for improving a long-standing departmental procedure or process that will save time and money, it's not a good idea to begin "rocking the boat" until you've established the trust of your colleagues and manager. At that point, present a well-organized plan to your supervisor and enthusiastically outline its benefits. You may find, too, that after you become more familiar with the company, you're able to present a more persuasive argument for change.

Take setbacks in stride. Nearly every success story in business is punctuated with failures along the way. In your efforts to innovate, you will likely face some setbacks. Analyze what went wrong and learn to turn disappointments into growth experiences that propel you to greater heights -- and help you to devise even bolder ideas.

Support your colleagues. In addition to your own efforts, encourage others' attempts to take prudent risks. When coworkers go out on a limb to propose good but unconventional ideas, steer clear of jumping on the naysayer bandwagon. The more you rally around colleagues when they take a risk, the more likely they are to return the favor.

People who are afraid to make a mistake won't ever propose the creative strategies required to succeed in a very competitive marketplace. Those who have been in the workplace for a number of years respect and understand the importance of risk-taking. Those who can step out on a limb -- at the opportune time -- are more likely to gain momentum in their careers.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2008 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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