General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2258434

    Team Player or Top Performer?


    by samson06 ·

    Let’s say you’re in an IT group of a dozen people. About half the people are at a level above you and half are on a level below you in rank. You are one of the smartest and most productive people in the group. Let’s also say that you have some skills that NOBODY else in the group has. Should you:

    1) Focus on being the most productive employee that you can be. Work your a** off and complete projects ahead of schedule. Be cordial with co-workers but keep your eyes glued to the screen and put the pedal to the metal. Reveal little about your knowledge since you spent many years learning your craft. Withhold information to keep others’ from competing with you. Refrain from making friends at work. Take full credit for your work.


    2) Teach other people the same skills that you have. Put a higher priority on establishing relationships than accomplishments. Be a people person. Focus on trusting and making friends with the people you work with. Help others develop their skills and realize their potential. Freely share information. Be a team player and allow others to take credit for your work.

    Which employee would be more secure in their job and benefit in the long term?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3201362


      by roger99a ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Suck up to Management and create paper. Volunteer to lead projects but perform as little actual work as possible. Take all the credit you can for everyone else’s work. Always have someone to blame when things go wrong. Never acknowledge when others do good work unless you look good because of it. Make your staff work late at night and then send them home early on Thursday (not Friday) so there’s no overtime to justify, unless they are salaried. Those people just have to work.

      I’m feeling a little bitter today. Sorry.

      • #3201305

        Worked your butt off for nothing again eh

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Neither

        Seems to be a fact of life.
        Could be worse we forged ahead for 8 months working lots’ of extra hours, Made the deadline. Then we got put up for redundacy, surprisingly we got a little bitter about this, even those of us who kept our wonderful jobs.
        Never seen som many puzzled frowns on managers faces, since I said ‘n’ tier applications.

      • #3200914

        You forgot

        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to Neither

        Golf with the boss. Other than that you’re right on the money.

        • #3200833

          I’m not the only one!

          by roger99a ·

          In reply to You forgot

          I’m feeling much better now.

          One more bit: one bad thing you do cancels out 100 good things you did.

        • #3227938


          by too old for it ·

          In reply to You forgot

          the boss doesn’t golf, but hangs out in gay bars.

          You can take it from here.

      • #3200497

        sad but true

        by syberlane ·

        In reply to Neither

        Unfortunately your post is so factual it?s scary? -at least in the corporate environment. ***Advice ?work to build an almost sacred circle of a few people you can REALLY trust (do your best not to make it appear too obvious or you?ll regret it). Learn from each other, keep each other up to date on pertinent info and if possible hope that at least one of those people are in a different sub department, or department all together as it will help stay in touch with what?s going on ?direction of the department, company, etc.

      • #3227971

        And for our winner,

        by ·

        In reply to Neither

        we have an all expense paid trip to Hawaii.

        Absolutely this is the way the game is played. Organizations are becoming more and more top heavy, like Dolly Parton top heavy.

        There are situations where you will be required to be both top performer and team player. If you accomplish “it”, there will be others that will grill you for what you’ve achieved and will ride coat tails to your face, only to take sole credit for what you suffered for behind your back. Understand there are situations where it doesn’t matter whether you are top performer, blow your own horn to receive credit, the person ahead of you on the depth chart often times isn’t the better player during the course of the daily grind, but they are there for a reason, they have a credential they were able to get that you may not have, they know someone that won’t require them to as brilliant for producing the elegant solution. You’ll be on a need to know basis with these folks, yet your work will be an open resource/library. Often times the key is to be brilliant for those that can and will do something for you, but a dullard to those that want to gain what you’ve accomplished thru your suffrage.

    • #3201359

      Wow, what a loaded question

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Keeping secrets to better your own accomplishments is a bit over the top, but could be called job security. Training others has its own merits, but placed in that context, it would only be wise confine these sessions to those above you on the ladder, lest you be replaced by a lower paid person that can do your work. Being a people person often doesn’t work too well, as many may feel you are brown nosing. Seems that you’d be damned if you did and damned if you didn’t. Both approaches have problems and could lead to unhappiness and insecurity.

    • #3201311

      Number 2 and sort of Number 1…Here’s why

      by tkagin ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Be a team player. Always offer to show someone how to do something. Here’s the catch though. Only help people who help themselves. The other lazy people who you have to show 5 times, will just be a drain on you. Also always remember that you still need to take care of you and your career. It’s not a bad thing to be competitive. Trying to outperform your coworkers is good in that makes others try to keep pace. Make yourself look good, take credit and give credit where it’s due. Just don’t make anyone look bad. They can usually do that on their own.

      My experience shows, that most people won’t take it upon themselves to spend the mental energy to learn new things. The ones that do though will end up respecting you more, and even sharing stuff they know. Your opinion will be more respected and recognized as well.

      As far as number 1…sure be productive, but don’t go nuts. You just raise the bar more and more, and you’ll probably just burn yourself out. The way I get around this is through automation. Automate as much of your job as possible, but don’t make it too visible (i.e. serverside). Write a script, but make sure it’s executed by you from your workstation. You don’t want to automate yourself out of a job.

      Don’t hoard information for job security. You won’t be respected, and truthfully, if it’s public knowledge, anyone with any bit motivation can find it out. If it’s internal processes, share it. You don’t want to be the sole person behind a process anyway. Hoarding information and getting emotional attached to a technology, server, process, etc, is usually the sign of a rookie, who’s not confident in being able to ride on their own merits. Those are usually the first to be kicked out the door. Any time any bit of a technological change occurs in your environment, you would be seen as one dimensional.

      • #3227930

        Can go either way…..

        by nazario1974 ·

        In reply to Number 2 and sort of Number 1…Here’s why

        This is a no win situation. Every human has different perspectives on any action. Corporate America is very shady overall. You have your negatives and your so-call positives (really inner negatives) that will judge, is what they crave. My self in the other had am a team player, don’t like to hold anything back, I?ll do and say what ever it takes to make my self and other unit members around me look good.
        Guess you can call me Mr. Neutral.

    • #3201310

      DUP – Ignore this

      by tkagin ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      DUP – Ignore this

    • #3230719

      A little of each I think

      by tonythetiger ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Taking from 1.

      [i]Focus on being the most productive employee that you can be. Work your a** off and complete projects ahead of schedule.[/i]

      And from 2.

      [i]Teach other people the same skills that you have.[/i]


      [i]Focus on trusting and making friends with the people you work with. Help others develop their skills and realize their potential. Freely share information.[/i]

      In addition, be precise and accurate when giving/taking credit for work. Embellishments will be discovered and damage credibility.

    • #3200517

      A management perspective

      by mike ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      I don?t think this is the answer you wanted to hear, but I hope you take an open and honest approach to what it has to say.

      First of all, let me give tell you were I come from. I manage and deal with some of the greatest IT talent on the planet within one of the top 10 Fortune 500 corporations. Some of these people are the smartest I have ever known.

      I think it is interesting how you phrased your question. Stating you are the smartest person in the group indicates that you begin each day with blinders on. The first thing you need to do is check your ego at the door each morning and take the blinders off.

      You state that you can either be work on relationships with others -or- be the most productive person you can be. The most successful people I know do both. I?m not saying you have to be overly social with your co-workers, but you do need to work with them. That is why the group is called a ?team? and not ?individuals?.

      When you silo yourself and closely covet your skills, you expose the company to risk in the event you are hospitalized from an injury, have an extended illness, etc. Who will be able to pick up what you were doing? Certainly not those you have shunned. You will also be less likely to be chosen to move to higher grounds within the organization because nobody else can do your job and you aren?t demonstrating teamwork. You are a single point of failure within your organization ? and you know what organizations do with single points of failure- they try to get rid of them.

      When you check your ego at the door, you have no issue openly teaching others what you know. To stay in the lead, you do this while continuing to grow your knowledge in the background. When you teach and mentor others, you help the organization grow and become more productive as a whole. That is the difference between technicians and technical leaders. I have done that for years and have been promoted continuously because of it.

      To answer your question, you must do it all if you want the right to claim you are being the most productive person you can be.

      • #3227442

        Absolutly Right

        by skoelkoe ·

        In reply to A management perspective

        That is how I got to were I am today. This is why the most knowledgeable poeple always wonder why they are not promoted after many years of service with one company.

    • #3200506

      It depends on the corporate culture

      by rtmtech1 ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Take a look at the corporate culture of your workplace. Do they promote from within? If so, how does one get ahead: from superior job knowledge or kissing up to the bosses?

      I suggest a split between option 1 and 2. My own experience suggests 90%+ for option 1 but your results may vary. For me, management was completely oblivious to the daily operations and only looked at reports. I had a coworker, I’ll call him Bill, who was a “shining star”. He cut corners that required other employees to correct. This enhanced his numbers and lowered the productivity of his fellow employees, but management was to myopic to see it. He has been promoted twice and most of his coworkers, including myself, have left the company.

      I hope you work in an organization where you can apply a majority of option 2, but so far the average is against it.

      • #3200491


        by tuvals ·

        In reply to It depends on the corporate culture

        I am retired from IBM having taken a buyout after 25 years of service. The bottom line is poor management at all levels. The corporation was surrounded by Yes men at the top who blatently lied about how well their division(s) were doing. I work a second job but my philosophy is an honest days work for an honest days pay. You can golf, kiss up to the boss but when the time comes and the executives say we need to downsize, do a resource deployment, etc. your boss will do what it takes to keep his job. I have seen situations where people have been let go and there was no backup for their jobs. Many corporations and their management are oblivious to what their people do. Do the best you can, read, learn and practice what you learn because today’s environment dictates that the majority of workers will be changing jobs often, either by their own choice or at the whim of those upper echelon managers who haven’t a clue. Does this sound negative, yes, because I have seen it happen and still see it happening. Yup, looking out for #1 isn’t a bad idea in every situation. In most situations no one else is doing it.

    • #3200434

      Both, sort of…

      by subscribeksm ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      You should work diligently and make the effort to gain recognition for your work as appropriate. This will make you valued for your skills.

      You should not focus too much on any one area of skill or technology. Technologies and disciplines simply change too quickly in IT, and you do not want to be left behind when they do.

      If you want to be seen as the go-to person for a particular skill or technology, it will be helpful if you can become something of a trainer. My approach to this is as follows:

      1. Develop a basic training guide the shows people how to use the technology in your environment. If enough people are interested, create PowerPoint deck and lead a class or two. Do not offer to train people who are not willing to prepare a little on their own unless training is a express part of your job duties and goals.

      2. If people come to you with questions, develop a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) file. This will not only save you time as questions are repeated, but allows you to publish quarterly updates to everyone you have helped. As this FAQ is passed on, you will gain a solid reputation not only as an expert, but as a team player. (Note: When responding to a single question, always give a specific answer copied from the FAQ, with a copy of the entire FAQ attached.)

      3. Save extended one-on-one training favors for those who are willing and able to reciprocate. For example, when the database admin seeks out your help to learn Java, ask him or her to train you on something else you can use in your work. This helps you grow as you help others.

      4. If training requests become significant, talk to your supervisor about making training a formal goal. Training is a valuable skill and one that shows you branching out of pure IT and into activities that affect the bottom line. It’s also an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are more than a back-end nerd.

    • #3200384

      Been there, done that

      by rhomp20029 ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      I have been in that position a couple of times. What happened was that I was the one on call for everything to do with a couple of systems. Calls on vacation, calls at 3 in the AM, calls on weekends, calls on holidays, etc. I complained about this and finally was given an assistant to teach. Mostly I would go with number 2. There is a benefit to knowing it for job security but it also gets in the way of your getting onto anything else and ends up limiting you. It got to the point that I was so good at finding the problems and fixing them that I found myself being called for problems in other systems because they knew I could find and fix faster than anyone else and what I fixed was fixed right. Since I was single then it really became a problem.

      Job security if all you want is to work on that one thing most of the time. What then happens when they go to another thing that does the same job? Where is your backup? Where is your chance to learn new things. Where is your chance to upgrade your skill set?

    • #3226927

      Number 2 every time

      by ashby ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      I’d always opt for sharing but make sure you get the credit for it. Once you’ve passed on your knowledge, you are free to accept the next promotion.

      Opt for number 1 and you will become indispensible – and therefore your career is stalled.

      On the other hand, one company I was with had a bunch of engineers whose philosophy was “Knowledge shared is overtime lost”. They were all still engineers when I moved on!

    • #3226801

      IF your boss is good enough to notice it…

      by absolutely ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      the best strategy, in terms of the team, is to lean towards 2), with a strategy I call “teach opportunistically”. Start with the simplest of the things that you know and your co-workers don’t know (these will also be the most boring, and the ones you most desperately want to never do!). The most opportune time to teach them is when you have a great deal of complex work to do, which you could not teach then delegate in a timely fashion, but you also have some work that is fairly simple (for you). Teach what you can, when you need to free up some time for yourself. Over time, you will be able to delegate progressively more work, and either perform a role more like a manager or just allow your group to accomplish more. Hopefully, you’ll also be promoted to more of a management position, or at least a more managerial salary.

      If your boss is not good enough to notice that you’re maximizing the positive effect of your talent to the benefit of the [b]team[/b], even before your own direct, [b]short term[/b] self-interest, then 1), and move on ASAP, because there are better managers who do reward efficiency.

    • #3226658

      Most Liked

      by gnx ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      It comes down to 2 things in the work world. They (boss/owner etc) either like you or they don’t. When they don’t, you pop up on their radar.

      • #3228497

        That is just

        by absolutely ·

        In reply to Most Liked

        something that incompetent people tell themselves, to try to excuse their failure.

        • #3227932

          I have to give it to you

          by too old for it ·

          In reply to That is just

          You have compressed the combined arrogance of a Fortune 500 corporation executive team into a single sentence.

      • #3228290

        A small part of the equation

        by mike ·

        In reply to Most Liked

        A good manager will remove a non-productive person whether he likes them personally or not. A person who doesn’t produce or isn’t a team player who costs the company $50K or more a year is still a liability whether they are likable or not. While some people can schmooze themselves into positions, that doesn’t last long term.

        To take a quote from “Leadership Lessons of the NAVY SEALS”:

        “Let it be known that you’ll get rid of people who shouldn’t be part of the team- even the nice people.”

        As I stated in my earlier post- it takes a well rounded person to be successful- one who will be productive AND a team player. Focus on only one side and you lose in the long run. Like putting gasoline in a car and ignoring the oil, you will run for a while, but eventually break down.

    • #3227501

      Nr 1 is a risk

      by josb ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Since I am a security officer I always try to find out which people have unique skills/knowledge that could put the company or department at risk when they are involved in an accedent or leave the company.

      Business should never rely on single persons, except very small companies.

    • #3227416

      number 2

      by d2kk ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      I currently work in a company where the long-time employees’ culture is #1. They are under the assumption that not sharing or documenting their knowledge is job security. Its an unfortunate philosophy. 1. From mgt propspect you are categorized as a risk, not a team player, not willing to grow out of your current position. 2. This is not job security or protection from downsizing. In fact, as people from outside the company move into upper mgt it will make you a target. If you learned it, somebody else can. The company may take a hit while sombebody comes up to speed if you leave but they will recover and probably implement a new, more efficient way of getting it done. 3. It will create bad will. You will eventually want to move to new, exciting projects. You will not be chosen because of the corner you’ve painted yourself into, but you will accuse your manager of holding you back.

      If your goal is to be seen as a leader and be somebody who gets considered for that next big sexy project, you need to be sure somebody else can take over the tasks you need to give up. There is no loss of credit when you can show that you become the expert, then demonstrated leadership by training others in the work\process\whatever you created. And it looks great on your resume.

    • #3227338

      Why only one or the other?

      by zaferus ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Generally I’m 80% #1 and 20% #2 unless asked to shift. Except I don’t withold knowledge EVER and document enough so that others can take over and keep things running if I go on holidays or training. I’m not so insecure that I have to worry about witholding information or documentation.

      But, in our organization at least – we’re judged by our performance and ability to meet objectives and the leadership is best left to the supervisors and above.

      There have been projects where I’ve been asked to get the “pedal to the metal” and go 100% #1 for months at a time. There have been weeks when almost all I do is cross train and help others with their projects and objectives. When I do this I never look for credit and as long as my objectives are on track I find it a nice change of pace to work on something a little different.

      Don’t be afraid to display a little leadership when required, but also don’t forget your boss is the leader of the department not you.

    • #3227956

      Definitely both

      by mgordon ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      Both goals must be pursued.

    • #3138648

      You need to be both.

      by spaedie ·

      In reply to Team Player or Top Performer?

      A top performer would make you the know-it-all. As long as you document, no problem. If you don’t, people will go angry with you.
      A team player can be someone who is walked over and with that you usually forget what you learned over years, since you don’t tease yourself to refine what you know.

      So be a teamplayer which has the capacities to step out of the crowd. That way your boss will know your name too.

Viewing 16 reply threads