You need to know all the answers to do your job. Or do you?
I’m just going to say it. No, you don’t need to know all the answers to do your job. And if you did, why are you still in the same job? If you have 40/30/20/10 years left until you retire, can you imagine not learning anything new for all that time? Personally, this is my nightmare.
If you don’t relate, then don’t read the rest.
For everyone else:
No one expects you to know all the answers. Instead the question is, do you know how to find the answer?
“How” comes from the resources you have:
Who is in your trusted network? They could be your manager, your colleagues, your friends in other teams, your mentors, your industry contacts, your old managers and colleagues, even family and friends who know nothing about what you do. All can give you another perspective or ask that question that can open up your thinking. And that’s just your community.
Industry events/meetups/workshops are essential to learn about your industry outside your company. And is another way to meet others to add to your trusted network.
Subscribe to news sites/journals/podcasts/blogs that are relevant and interesting.
I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here but from my research lately I keep hearing the same thing: “I need to know how to do most of my job right this second/be the expert, so that I can show I’m capable”.
Thinking like this puts undue pressure on you to perform to an unrealistic expectation. It places too much emphasis on “knowledge” to mean “capable”. When in reality you need a number of factors to show you are capable:
Can you work with other people?
Can you communicate clearly? Verbally and written? Across different levels in your organisation?
Can you focus on prioritised tasks and projects? Especially when the priority has been set by someone else?
Do you have initiative proportional to what is being asked of you or is needed?
Do you have enough knowledge to do your day to day tasks?
Are you open to learning? Especially from your mistakes?
How do you receive feedback, the good and the bad? What do you do with feedback? Do you even look for feedback?
Can you adapt to changing situations with a positive mindset e.g. when a project gets cancelled?
When you don't understand something, do you look for the answer rather than gloss over your lack of understanding? Can you distinguish between what you need to know to do your job and what isn't needed?
Do you have boundaries? In other words, can you say no?
When your meaning of “capable” expands to more than knowledge, other opportunities can open up in the form of promotions, jobs in other sectors and even career change.