Cheatsheet of a Superdoer 🦸 Having More Daily Impact
Keep yourself accountable when striving to improve your impact and career, a concrete guide. Build a personal brand, nurture an understanding of your team and company, and push yourself one step at a time.
Everyone’s personality is positively different. Though this article is fine-tuned for those who find themselves stuck in a loop when it comes to branching out, networking and finding out what they could do to have an impact, there’s advice anyone can use to take advantage of their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. I wish I had read this and listened to it years ago and hence I hope someone will find it useful now.
Having a technical background as a software engineer, and currently working as a technical consultant, my examples are influenced and limited to a degree by my own experience.
Understanding how to improve your personal brand and have an impact:
- Keep your mind open to out-of-the-box individual contributions
- Stand out by doing without micro-management — don’t shy away from making your impact visible
- Set yourself up for success through measurable impact
Do more ↗ than baseline expectations
Be comfortable as much with failing as with succeeding, since it is more likely to happen in your day-to-day. We have to learn from entrepreneurs in this respect. Failing is not bad — it helps you appreciate your successes, and provides opportunities to diversify your learning. It is up to us to see the benefits instead of overthinking the negatives.
Try to fill in a gap you’ve noticed your clients or peers have. Ensure you are solving a problem while being able to deliver without turning your side project into a massive endeavor that will burn you out.
As an example, consider manual and time-consuming ad-hoc processes of obtaining and making sense of data, which you may notice your team is doing. Presenting this data visually in a dashboard could automate this process and save loads of time.
The dashboard may not be the only solution. The goal could be to come up with a more straightforward way to reduce any part of manual efforts, or some other solution entirely.
Going a bit out of your way would enable you to up-skill, show interest, network, and improve processes that otherwise may have never gotten any attention because of budgeting and prioritization.
You may not make a huge impact, which may seem like a failure to you. But you will learn a lot, build rapport with peers and clients, and potentially set up a starting point for a strategic project in the future. You will be surprised how the people you help and the most minor projects tend to connect in the future and give you insight into processes and behaviors.
As Steve Jobs has famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Make your successes known 💬 and take responsibility
Take steps to ensure your impact is visible enough, without relying on it naturally happening and others knowing about it out of thin air. The reality is that most people are too preoccupied with their own activities to notice. Your manager is not always an exception to that fallacy. This is not about bragging or being pushy, but about understanding, you deserve recognition and should chase it.
You do not have to go too much out of your comfort zone, or have had an out-of-this-world type of impact. If effort was spent and it helped even one person, there is an opportunity for you to ensure credit is given where credit is due for a success story. By raising awareness, your work may be picked up by others and further contributed to, and it could be re-used, expanding your impact!
Here are a few ways you can take your impact to the next level:
- Create a personal development plan to track your goals and opportunities
- Existing recurring semi-formal meetings where peers: connect with the organiser and propose your idea for the agenda. This may feel scary and you may feel unworthy, but without trying you will be missing out on having more impact and valuable feedback. Take note in which sessions others pitch their impact.
- Putting your solution in a visible enough place: document its existence in the central space of your team; if there is a repository your team generally pushes projects to, find out if you can add your work to it.
- Daily or weekly catch-ups with your teammates and/or manager: let them know what you have been up to even if it’s not strictly part of what you have set out to accomplish in the work cycle. They may have invaluable feedback and could get you exposure. And while having to present work that you are not confident in may seem daunting, it is the best way of building up that confidence and materializing your impact.
Own and manage projects as if your own start-up 💹
Take as much control and responsibility as you can handle for projects assigned to you. Lead the related meetings instead of leaving them to others out of comfort.
Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do; reach out yourself, and get all the information you need. Even if you may not currently hold the necessary skills to take full control, assess and discuss with your manager what you can do to up-skill and deliver.
Get involved in the requirement gathering and in delivering the good and bad news about how the project is going and have discussions about how you could take more ownership. Bite the bullet and do the analysis work, build that presentation deck, and create that minimum viable product. Suggest solutions and timelines rather than waiting for them to be provided to you. Then see these through to a final product and assess and learn from the impact it has.
More concretely, try the following in your tasks:
- understand the bigger picture of why this task is important
- invest in understanding how the impact of this task will be measured
See something that could be done better 🛠?
Make it better.
Try not to think you do not have enough experience to apply yourself. Your perspective is more important than you think so don’t be afraid to share it!
Discuss your thoughts and ideas with others in 1:1s and try tackling a problem that impacts you every day, especially if no one else seems to have time to improve it despite obvious benefits.
Create a Proof of Concept when you identify something! Your work may be used for many other teams that have similar processes in place, and in time might be scaled and productionalised.
If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably is worth investigating.
Be open to things outside of your expertise 🏹
Without assuming you know things you do not.
Seek out opportunities to learn without them needing to be presented by others. Watch training videos, read articles and sign up for courses so that you’re in the know about the direction your industry is heading.
Convincing yourself you are not capable of contributing because of a lack of skill is an inhibitor to positive change. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to adapt to new projects and industry changes.
Go to training platforms right now, your company likely already has you signed up to one, find one or two courses you believe might be beneficial and book a time to go through them, add them to your personal development plan. Highlight to your manager that you would like to do this and assess how you can leverage new knowledge in your day-to-day work.
Help others achieve more 🤼
Have short 1:1s with members of your team monthly and understand their frustrations and wishes. You are likely to notice patterns of things you can improve in time.
Sometimes it can be a lack of structure around a process, manual operations that could be automated, or 3rd party tools that could be on-boarded to ease certain tasks.
Without knowing what the problems are, you limit the opportunities you have to help!
Understand and measure your impact 🧮
How you can measure the effectiveness of what you do? Look at things from multiple angles of measurement.
If you are writing documentation, do you understand how you can see who is reading it and how many times? And do you know how you may be able to track how useful it is? A survey? A quarterly conversation with key stakeholders?
If you are creating data dashboards, are you able to track who is using them, when and how? Have you researched and played with metrics within your platform of choice?
If your product is an internal tool, are you able to easily see who is accessing it, distributed by days/months and is it possible to see what granularity clients are looking at data at?
Don’t be afraid of sending out a survey to your audience. You may be surprised how willing people are to help and how beneficial and insightful their feedback and suggestions can be. If your users are internal, it is almost a certainty that your company has a survey creation tool available for you.
Here is a summary you can use as an actionable guide in your day-to-day to ask yourself if you’re doing the basic things needed to push your career and expertise forward:
- own your work as if it is your personal company, with all that entails: taking responsibility for projects, for the message, and the product with its issues and successes
- seek self and team productivity enhancing opportunities, through new processes or tooling, whether it needs to be developed by you/your team or be paid for and on-boarded
- help others achieve more, by helping take blockers out of their way, promoting best practices and being a champion of your company’s culture
- understand your impact, leveraging metrics and feedback
You are important and you matter, and you owe it to yourself to apply your abilities in the best possible way.
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