Very often when a manager asks for volunteers, all the employees in sight look down at their notebooks and mentally chant “not me, not me, not me”. What they should be saying is “pick me, pick me, pick me”.
Regardless of your organizational level, from the newest college intern to the CIO, there are a number of reasons why making yourself happily available to receive delegated projects from your boss has great career ramifications, including the following: 1. Gives you the opportunity to get involved in new types of projects, building both your experience and your resume 2. Helps facilitate you becoming your manager’s “go to person”, and increases the potential that you will be his/her future replacement 3. Provides the opportunity to gain new skills 4. If the task involves working with new people, it allows you to expand your professional network 5. Expands the variety of tasks you get to work on, thus reducing the chance of boredom in your job 6. Your wider skill set and experience makes you more valuable to your company and thus less susceptible to layoff
Each additional minor task you agree to take on may seem small and irrelevant to your current job performance, knowledge base, and professional reputation, but in the aggregate, like the grains of sand in an hourglass, over time they accumulate to be a substantial body of work that can be used to your professional advantage. Seemingly out of the blue you will get a call from an old boss offering you a promotion in another part of your company. You’ll be on an interview for a new job and the answer that gets you hired was based on a small project you agreed to do. The manager of another department decides to leave the company and suggests that you take his/her place because he/she was impressed with the work you did on a small multi-department project. The possibilities are endless.
All of that said, not all projects are created equal from a career advancement perspective. The best tasks to agree to perform should have one or more of the following attributes: • Allows you to broaden your internal company connections by having the opportunity to work with people you have not yet met • Provides you the opportunity to learn a new skill • Increases your visibility to company upper management • Creates accomplishments that can be added to your resume • Gives you the opportunity to learn something outside of IT that can be used in the future to better support your business users • Positions you for a future promotion • Pivots you toward a new type of job that you wish to obtain • Allows you to work on a task that resonates with you personally because of its social contributions • It’s something that sounds like fun and you would like to give it a try • Provides favor with your boss in a way that can enhance your performance review, increase your pay, and/or help get you promoted.
In short, if given the choice, select the tasks delegated by your boss wisely. Just doing more and more of the same thing may show your willingness to help the team, but helping the team in a way that maximizes its personal value to you is a much better way to spend your time.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.