How To Show That You’re Detail-Oriented
Ritu and Preeti work in the sales department of the same organization. Both have been asked by their sales manager…
June 2, 2021 | 7 mins read
Ritu and Preeti work in the sales department of the same organization. Both have been asked by their sales manager to prepare a detailed sales pitch for a new shampoo that’s going to be launched by one of the organization’s biggest clients. Both have been given a week to come up with a pitch and present it to the sales team.
Ritu wastes no time in starting work on the pitch with the aim of finishing it as soon as possible. Within three days, she’s done and decides to use the rest of her time to take a break and focus on other projects. When Ritu makes her presentation, the sales team discovers that she hasn’t narrowed down the pitch to a target audience, nor has she given any ideas on how to pitch the product across different media platforms.
On the other hand, Preeti starts her work knowing that she has an entire week to come up with a comprehensive sales pitch. Unlike Ritu, she spends a whole day researching previous shampoos launched by the client concerned and how those campaigns fared. Thereafter, Preeti breaks down her prospective pitch into five components—one for each media platform (television, social media, newspaper, radio and outdoor advertising)—which she then divides further on the basis of age of the target group. When she presents her sales pitch to the team, there’s no doubt that she has thoroughly outperformed Ritu.
What do you think is the biggest difference between Ritu and Preeti’s approach to work? The answer is simple—Preeti is a detail-oriented person, Ritu isn’t.
A detail-oriented person is someone who pays attention to small things around them, who can perceive minor changes in their environment and adjust to those changes. Such individuals are curious, persistent and can even be obsessed with actions that others may deem irrelevant.
The meaning of detail-oriented in the professional sector translates into someone who’s extremely careful about their work and isn’t willing to leave anything to chance. Sometimes, professionals like this can end up being perfectionists. However, for the most part, detail-oriented people are good for organizations as their work is guaranteed to be exhaustive, well-supervised and critically examined.
Here are some common personality traits you’ll find in all detail-oriented people:
You must recall working alongside people who have to be told repeatedly to finish a single task. You must also recall working alongside people who need no such reminders because they actively remember everything they have to do, as if there was some kind of advanced computer fitted into their brains. People who are detail-oriented invariably have a great memory. After all, you can’t orient yourself toward details if you can’t remember what those details were in the first place!
Detail-oriented skills can only result in efficient management and performance if they’re put to use on time. It’s not much use being a detail-oriented person if you submit a report three days after the deadline simply because you were too busy reading the footnotes. Most detail-oriented professionals take their time commitments very seriously and make it a point to always be punctual.
If you think of examples of detail-oriented people from your life, you’ll notice that most, if not all of them, work according to a particular structure. In the absence of structure, it’s difficult to manage the workload that detail-oriented individuals usually have. Alongside structure, equally crucial is the need to have clarity of thought. Without clarity, it’s easy to get confused in a sea of details and not know how one thing connects to another.
One can only be detail-oriented about something one cares about. Detail-oriented skills are extremely demanding, both on a person’s time as well as their mental and physical energy. This is why those who habitually go into the depths of a topic or a project usually do so because they’re genuinely interested in what they’re doing.
So far you’ve seen the characteristics that are common to detail-oriented professionals. But what if these characteristics don’t come naturally to you? Is it still possible for you to become a detail-oriented person or to prove to your prospective employers that one of your strong suits is attention to detail? The answer is yes. Here’s how you can prove that you’re detail-oriented:
You can’t dig deep into any topic unless you arm yourself with a bag full of questions. But don’t make your questions superficial or ask them just for the sake of asking questions. Make sure that your questions come with a purpose, usually to critically explore an issue or understand it from multiple angles.
Your employer will know that you’re a detail-oriented person if you’re able to adjust your behavior with the subtlest shift in their body language. This might involve doing small things like being extra polite when an associate is having a bad day (and it’s showing in their body language) or negotiating expertly with clients when their body language suggests that they’re not going to be convinced easily. Reading body language, therefore, is a simple and effective way to be able to prove that you notice everything about everyone around you.
This might seem to be one of the most basic examples of detail-oriented behavior, but just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it’s not essential. If you want to impress someone with your detail-oriented skills, all your documents and applications must be properly proofread for spelling, structure and grammar. The last thing you want in an interview, for instance, is to rattle on for two minutes about your detail-oriented skills only to find out that you have two spelling mistakes on your CV!
Micromanaging doesn’t mean that you keep pestering your associates about work that they’re supposed to handle on their own. Instead, it means that you have a fair idea of what everyone on a project is up to, and should anything go wrong, you’re in a position to resume control. Micromanagement, of course, can only happen when you rise to certain levels of seniority, but even if you’re not micromanaging as part of a larger project, you can learn to micromanage your own work, ensuring that you maintain a balance between different components of your work and not lose sight of any one aspect in the process.
Practicing these qualities on a daily basis is a way to become more detail-oriented in your personal and professional life.
The following samples will give you a good idea of how to tackle interview questions that try to probe your detail-oriented skills:
I think the meaning of detail-oriented is concerned with focusing one’s attention on things that others may easily overlook. This can involve anything from reading the room to adapting one’s delivery during a presentation to researching methodically about any and every aspect of a campaign. There’s no doubt that being detail-oriented means working hard, but it also means working smart. If someone cares about details, they care about how a process really works, they’re curious about how to optimize such a process, and in turn, optimize their own performance as well.
At my previous organization, I was part of the legal team that was negotiating a big project with an important client. The paperwork had been extensively scrutinized by my senior associates and I was given the documents pertaining to a new deal in order to summarize the main points. But being someone who is obsessed with every single detail of a document, I read the entire paperwork thrice and managed to discover in the fine print a seemingly problematic clause. This clause was part of the second last paragraph on page 150 in a 200-page document.
The clause stated that my organization won’t be able to renew the deal after five years should profits not reach a certain level. I knew that this wasn’t something my organization would have willingly agreed to. So, I immediately took it up with my senior associates, who were stunned to discover the clause. In the end, they thanked me for paying attention to details and the document was amended to suit the needs of my organization.
Examples of detail-oriented skills, as mentioned above, make it clear that these can’t be developed overnight. Becoming a detail-oriented person is part of a larger journey toward professional development, a journey you can embark on with Harappa’s Practicing Excellence course. With a world-class faculty to learn from and plenty of intriguing exercises to immerse yourself in, this course will sharpen your mind to pick even the smallest detail, improve your productivity and help you achieve the levels of performance that you and your organization have always aspired to. Enroll for the Practicing Excellence course and join employees from organizations like Airtel, Uber, Infosys, etc. in sharpening that eye for detail!
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