Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Fire-and-Forget Worker

This is not about a worker whom you fire and then easily forget about (with a sigh of relief, perhaps?). No, this is quite different. You know them fire-and-forget missiles? Their key strength is that they don't require additional guidance after being fired. Point them to the target, give a brief motivational speech, and off they go! Now imagine this for people and their tasks.

…and Tony Stark can turn his back to the explosion — to spread his hands in triumph :)

There are many qualities of a truly good professional, yet close to the top of the list (somewhere along with ability to listen and learn) is the ability to take your task (or, shall we say, a “mission”!) and then do it.

Yes, there may be issues along the way — you'll make sure to solve them. You don't even need to do it yourself — there may be additional approvals or decisions required, so you'll go and talk to the required people and see to it that the decisions are made, etc etc. And you'll then check the result before clapping your hands together for a happy “Another job well done!”, since you're probably the best person to check your work for potential weak spots, omissions or cut corners.

This is as opposed to sitting on your soft… chair (or standing on your hard floor, if you prefer) and building up a list of excuses for every obstacle you encounter, waiting for someone to come along and ask whether you're moving according to plan — and helping you overcome whatever minor issue you decided was good enough to relax for now. This is as opposed to sending avalanches of emails to ensure that “the ball isn't in your court” at any given time. This is as opposed to people who need a lot of hand-holding (not a good thing, even if it sounds romantic) to get through their projects.

Why is this helpful to your colleagues? If they don't need to double- and triple-check you — they are freed to work on their tasks, and, as a team, you achieve more.

Why is this helpful to you? Well, interestingly, you'll notice that such people get quickly noticed in a work environment, and, if the environment is at least somewhat healthy, their position improves. They get more trust, more things depend on them, so, as such people are reliable, so is their job and — gasp! — even their salary.

So even if you're ambitious and have lofty goals — I'd say that being dependable is an honest, morally right and emotionally satisfying way to get to where you want to be. As opposed to, say, playing cover-my-ass or career-ladder games and all that shameful nonsense that we see probably too often.

Therefore I'll definitely strive to be more of this kind of person, and encourage you to do the same.

2 comments:

  1. Good joke in the first paragraph. :)

    And you are totally right. But I think this text is mostly trivial and not very useful. Things like this aren't understood by motivational texts like this one. One only understand that when one sees how his colleague gets bonus or promotion as result of consistent dependable behavior. At my current work I see this everywhere on IC (individual contributor) level. Not sure about management level - they may have mostly political process up there.

    By the way, it's one of hard questions when moving from IC+management scheme to Scrum or other team development schemes - How can a person be awarded for personal traits like dependability or expertise if any task is done by whole team with everybody switching as needed between tasks? In IC way you can always list tasks you did in any given period and anyone can check quality and effort spent directly and objectively.

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    1. Yes, I guess it is more of an attitude-expression from me, than any kind of serious advice. Someone may be reinforced in what they already believe, others will nod but continue to find reasons to say “it's not my job” until they retire.

      I have no experience with Scrum/etc, so do too wonder how it could work there.

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