When managers analyze the relative importance of the people within their group, they generally consider a number of factors.
These factors include:
- Technical knowledge as it relates to the department’s responsibilities
- Flexibility to perform multiple departmental tasks
- Quality of the work performed
- Ability to get along with other employees within the company
- Willingness to learn new things and perform new tasks
- Can-do positive attitude
- Strong work ethic
- Speed at which tasks can be completed
While all of the employee attributes are of great importance, I’d like to specifically discuss the last bullet point, speed at which tasks can be completed. This attribute is important for a number of reasons. First, as you may expect, it allows you to get more work done. Logic dictates that if you can complete twice as many tasks as your fellow employees, all other things being equal, you are worth twice as much to your manager. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll get twice the pay, but it does mean that your manager will most likely be willing to pay you a premium for your high degree of output.
Many technical managers, me included, believe that a top technologist (Programmer, Tester, Business Analyst, Help Desk professional, etc.) can produce two to five times as much output with higher quality and greater reliability than an average technologist. Some of this enhanced productivity is certainly related to raw technical ability and intellect. Assuming an average level of intelligence, however, this ultra-productivity can also be achieved through proper training, professional experience, willingness to work hard, understanding of your department’s technical environment, and ability understand and follow instructions.
For those of you who are high producers due to your superior intellect, these suggestions have the potential to further drive your performance. For the rest of us, me included, we can turn good performance into great performance by doing the following:
1. Select a technical profession that takes advantage of your strengths The greatest athletes in the world are those people who have selected a sport that matches their natural abilities and have the drive to be the best. I believe the same is true of knowledge workers. Some people are naturally better programmers than testers. Other people are better business analysts than programmers. Enhancing your strengths, rather than trying to improve your weaknesses past satisfactory, will allow you to excel within your given area.
2. Be a sponge Learn everything you can about your given professional area, your department’s tasks, your company and your company’s industry. Knowledge of profession helps make you a thought leader in your given area and accelerates your work efficiency because you will be spending less time searching for answers and more time completing deliverables. Knowledge of your department, company and industry will provide you an understanding and context for the tasks you are performing. This understanding will enhance the quality of your deliverables and allow you to develop them more quickly because it will be easier for you to conceptualize why the task is needed and how your deliverable will be used.
3. Work hard and with intensity Working hard may seem like an obvious way to increase your productivity, but there are many people who don’t put forth their greatest effort. They see the work day as a period of time to be endured, not exploited. Working hard and with intensity in itself has the potential to provide promotional and financial opportunities. When this hard work and intensity is combined with a deep technical and contextual knowledge of the task being performed, the combination is phenomenal.
4. Self-promotion By self-promotion I don’t mean bragging, putting other people down or being egotistical. On the contrary, by self-promotion I mean assuring that you are getting the credit you deserve for your high performance work. All too often, I’ve seen extremely competent, high performance professionals taken advantage of by less scrupulous peers and managers. Expand your technical knowledge, gain a deep understanding of your industry, maximize your performance and make sure you receive the accolades you deserve.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.