By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman
You’ve probably heard the expression there’s no “I” in team. But must your personal goals always take a backseat to the priorities of your engineering team? The short answer is: no.
While being on a team requires give and take, with some forethought and finesse, it’s possible to advance your contracting career and still be a valuable member of your engineering team.
Here are some ways to join the team and still get ahead.
Pursue Complementary Projects
Working on projects that dovetail with your personal goals is the best way to support your colleagues without hindering your aspirations. Of course, landing career-enhancing projects on a consistent basis can be challenging. Certainly you need to communicate your desire to design green buildings or surgical robots to recruiters and project managers. And if your engineering manager mentions a project that piques your interest, volunteer your services.
If your engineering manager ignores your requests, check out Eric Bloom’s suggestions for landing great projects.
Don’t Be Afraid to Toot Your Own Horn
Are your individual efforts going unnoticed? Highlight your contributions during one-on-one sessions with your engineering manager. Or provide regular updates on your team’s progress and briefly mention a few of your activities.
“Once a week, or every other week, send your manager and your manager’s boss, if appropriate, an email that says what your big accomplishments are,” Heather Huhman suggests in an interview with Fox Business. Don’t take credit for every little task though, or take responsibility for your team’s success. Sometimes, it’s better to swallow your short-term pride for your long-term best interest.
It’s easy to lose your train of thought and voice when you’re in a meeting filled with loud opinions. As Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO and founder of FlexJobs points out, “By listening to and participating in the conversation, by adding your own comments and suggestions, you will be both a team player and also be able to have your own voice heard.”
Know When to Draw the Line
Sometimes, the term “team player” can become a euphemism for “chump”- the one who gets all the grunt work and puts in the extra hours notes Gwen Moran in Fast Company. While you can’t always pick and choose your duties, help yourself and your engineering team by ensuring that the vast majority of your efforts are focused on mutually beneficial tasks.
Put the Team First
At PEAK, one of our top sources for qualified engineers is referrals from the engineers’ former colleagues. You won’t win many friends, or contract assignments for that matter, unless you put the needs of your team ahead of your personal glory. Prove that you’re a team player by using inclusive language like “we” or “us” unless you’ve uniquely done something on your own. And remember to focus on the value you offer a manager and his engineering team during interviews.
“If you want to promote yourself, you want to be very complimentary of other people. It’s more collaborative. If you always promote yourself, it’s too obvious,” noted Julie Jansen, career coach and author of I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work.
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