Are you working in a "no stretch" organization? To succeed at work, you need to "stretch" your capabilities. You need to perform tasks above your skill level, tasks you've never done before. In a no stretch organization, workers are assigned only tasks they've done before.
Because you have no experience in a task, you're not assigned that task. Because you're not assigned that task, you have no experience in that task. Because you have no experience in that task...
• Well run organizations make a deliberate effort to give their employees assignments that require them to stretch. If you work in such an organization, there's no need to continue reading this article.
You can break the cycle of stagnation by faking it. When your boss asks if you've done a task before, mumble something ambiguous like "yeh - easy shot". That's right, outright lie to your boss.
• Disclaimer: I am not recommending this technique to doctors or airline pilots (although I have no doubt they use it).
You say you would never lie at work? But you did lie. The first time you entered the door for the job interview, you pretended to be interested in the "work" when in reality you just wanted to know how much they pay and how much vacation you would get, didn't you?
• The ultimate fake; hundreds of people in corporate executive positions were discovered to have fake degrees.
If you accept an assignment above your capabilities and fail to produce results, you could be fired. But in most cases, you will be able to "stretch" your skills and complete the task successfully. As a result, you will advance in your career. In any case, if you're in a "no stretch" organization, what do you have to lose?
• In this article, you'll learn techniques to succeed by faking it.
• It's very common for freelancers and experts to take on tasks beyond their capability. They don't consider it to be faking, they call it "confidence".
Recognize When NOT to Fake It
How much do you have to stretch to accomplish the task? Is the task so far beyond your skill level that there is no way you could stretch enough to perform even a minimally acceptable job? If so, wait for a different opportunity to fake it.
What are the possible consequences for the organization if you fail to perform the task adequately. Would they be exposed to a high level of liability? Might they lose a multi-million dollar contract? If so, wait for a different opportunity to fake it.
How to Fake It
Faking it can mean learning to use a complicated computer application or technology that you have no experience with. For example, you might accept an assignment that requires you to use a Computer Automated Drafting system (CAD). Don't start by attempting the assigned task. First design a few smaller practice projects.
Faking it can require an understanding your organization's processes. For example, you accept an assignment that requires you to write a specification. You'll need to get a copy of the appropriate procedures manual. Sometimes the most surreptitious source for this is a clerk or secretary.
• When attempting to conceal the fact that you're faking it, one of your best sources of information may be a clerk or secretary. You would be surprised how knowledgeable these people are about how things get done in the organization.
Faking it can mean managing a project or event when you have no management experience. You might think "acting like a boss" doesn't require any special skills. But if managing the project requires the cooperation of other people, you'll find that some people will be uncooperative.
To manage a project, you need to learn how to use a pert chart and a Gantt chart, and how to manage a budget. If team members feel that you have lost control and the project is doomed to failure, everyone will abandon you.
• When attempting a task for the first time, it's important to listen to other people's advice. You may not agree with, or understand what they are saying, but they may have been down this path before and can give the tip that will prevent you from stumbling.
• When faking it, study previous work. Can you get copies of the schedule used on the previous project of this type? Can you get pictures of the previous product or event? Can you get a copy of a similar specification? Don't plagiarize someone else's work, just use it as an example.
To fake it, you'll be required to put in extra time, usually your own time, to make up for your lack of experience. That's the price you have to pay to succeed in "no stretch" organization. It will be worth the extra effort because next time this kind of task comes around, you really will be experienced.
After you have successfully completed a task by faking it, you' be ready to handle even greater assignments. Tasks for which you have no experience. And you'll receive those assignments and succeed in those tasks - by faking it.