By Jeff Fortney
My father was a young adult during the Great Depression and jobs were scarce. He took whatever work he could find, from cutting up old cars for scrap metal to plucking chickens in a processing plant. He also spent two years clearing shrubs along riverbanks as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He claimed he developed his work ethic during those trying times. I believe many of his generation did the same.
As a child in the 1960s, I saw my father's work ethic in action. He put in the hours necessary to complete all his work. I rarely saw him leave for work after 7 a.m. or get home before 6 p.m. That time was dedicated to work – and nothing else.
A loyal employee, he remained with the same company for 37 years. His employer treated him with respect, and he represented the business with similar respect. He never uttered a bad word about his employer. He also sought industry-specific courses to increase his knowledge on his industry and products.
In today's world, commitment, dedication and loyalty have their place – but in a different form because the business world has evolved. In the payments sphere, a solid work ethic remains imperative to success. So what would a successful payment professional's work ethic look like today?
Googling "work ethic," reveals many possible definitions. These range from "the belief that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and worthy of reward" to "a set of values based on hard work and virtue." All contain the premise that a strong work ethic generates value.
However, one key differentiator between my father's time and today is that a work ethic today tends to be internally driven. This differentiation is a key component in a payments work ethic.
You must be committed to do the work necessary. Previously hard work was defined as being totally dedicated to the job at hand during work hours. Hard work is no longer defined by "work hours." Indeed, today's payment professional may work more hours than workers in the past. Smartphones, for example, enable merchants or potential customers to reach their account reps outside of normal "office hours." This increased access has led to added work hours and less down time.
Instead of measuring hours worked, today's payment professionals must measure their efforts, their sales plans and their execution. Some days, completion may take 10 hours or more; other days could require less. But it's not about time; it's about effort.
Despite potential 24/7 accessibility, work hours should end at a specific time. It can be said that the sales profession provides immediate reward for effort; however, it can also be said that a salesperson's effectiveness diminishes without recovery time. This may require that your smartphone be turned off – or left unanswered – at specific times in the evening. If you don't balance work and recovery, your work ethic will suffer, as will your wallet.
Since work ethics today are primarily internal, you must be dedicated to your efforts, and to the product of those efforts. That is, you must become more valuable to your existing and future clientele. This value is found in two ways: in seeking industry knowledge and in choosing a solid ISO partner who shares your philosophy.
You don't need to sign up for random training classes, but you should ask questions and learn the basics. Ask your mentor or partner for suggestions on areas that are important for you to master, and ways to find that knowledge.
That is why choosing a compatible ISO partner is so valuable. The right partner can help you identify what you need to know to be successful. Be leery if prospective partners want you to know only what they think is important. You don't have to know everything, but you do need sufficient expertise so you can avoid situations that may cause you to make mistakes that could cost you merchant clients and impact your reputation.
In my father's time, workers' loyalty was directed toward their employers. Today, loyalty is focused more on personal and professional goals. This means you can't let yourself get in the way of your success.
For example, you may occasionally question why a particular merchant would ever want to sign with you. You may not voice the thought, but such doubts have probably crossed your mind many times over the course of your career. Another personal roadblock is to pressure yourself by thinking that if you don't sign a certain merchant, you will be a failure. These are self-defeating thoughts that erode your personal value and can cause you to give away the shop.
So, keep commitment, dedication and loyalty in alignment. If any one slips out of balance, it can impact your success. That's why now is the time to examine your work ethic and make sure you have a partner that will help you stay on track. After all, strong work ethics and strong partnerships go hand in hand, creating the perfect formula for prosperity.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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