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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?

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DUP - Ignore this

by tkagin In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

DUP - Ignore this

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A little of each I think

by TonytheTiger In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

Taking from 1.

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

And from 2.

Teach other people the same skills that you have.


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

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

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A management perspective

by mike In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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.

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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.

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It depends on the corporate culture

by rtmtech In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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.

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by tuvals In reply to It depends on the corpora ...

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.

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Both, sort of...

by subscribeksm In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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.

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Been there, done that

by rhomp2002 In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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?

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Number 2 every time

by Ashby In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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!

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IF your boss is good enough to notice it...

by Absolutely In reply to Team Player or Top Perfor ...

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 team, even before your own direct, short term self-interest, then 1), and move on ASAP, because there are better managers who do reward efficiency.

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