Having an employee who can complete a task and tie up loose ends is a godsend to bosses. Are you that type of person?
There are two types of people in this world: Those who close drawers after they get something out and those who don't. My husband is the latter. That man cannot close a cabinet door to save his life. It's like his thinking goes as far as taking care of the task he is performing — getting that box of cereal out of the cupboard — but then halts responsibility directly after the task has been accomplished, leaving the cupboard door completely open. I know that if this is the worst marital strife I have to deal with, I should count my blessings, but FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, IT'S AGGRAVATING!
OK, so what does this have to do with one's career? Well, in my opinion, in the average workplace, you'll find those who are closers, and those who are leave-openers (oh, give me a break, I couldn't think of better term). I'm not using the term "closer" in the sense it's used in the sales biz — as someone who can close a sale. Or as aggressively as it's addressed in the play and movie Glengarry Glen Ross ("Coffee is for closers!").
I'm referring to someone who, basically, can be presented with a task, perform that task, and then tie up all loose ends. If you work with a closer, you appreciate it, even though sometimes you might not even know it. They just fix things and don't leave things in a a state of upheaval once they're done.
Closers are a boss's dream. You assign a duty and then bim bam bang it's done, and you don't have to worry about tracking down straggling details. Having a lack of closers on one's team is what sometimes gives birth to micromanagement.
You can sometimes manually encourage an environment of closers by setting specific completion dates for every duty, no matter how small. If you're in a meeting and someone who's out to impress the boss volunteers to "put that together," ask on the spot for a due date. Make them go on record. For some people, being on record won't matter, but for some it will.
Closing is not just a productivity matter — it's also a driving force behind innovation. I've been in meetings where great ideas have been tossed out (really, I have!), but then when there's no follow-through, the great idea loses momentum and dies quietly on the vine. Don't let that happen —be a closer!
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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.