It’s promotion and review season where I work, and going through this cycle I was reminded of a theme I frequently see come up:

Focused effort vs broad involvement

Sometimes we create situations for ourselves and our own growth when we are doing many things at once. Sometimes we feel like we have to, or things will fall apart and reflect badly on us. At the same time, those who focus and drive delivery on something impactful often get rewarded and recognized. And those who don’t and more reach out farther to help and support more can be asked what impact they made, and told to wait until they have something to show for their efforts more clearly.

For folks working really hard on many things, it might be more difficult to see the impact of that work, especially when the impact is the absence of negative impact or the empowering of a lot of other recognized impact. And maybe it’s a pattern, and maybe not, but often I see women (myself included) take on a lot of things and juggle them all and try to keep them all progressing and help others thrive, and men stick to maybe a couple things, and then get recognized and rewarded for it.

I don’t think it’s impossible to be rewarded for helping on many things, but it’s trickier to draw that narrative. I’ve seen more manager trainings lately that call out the impact of direct contributions, building on others’ work, and contributing to the work of others. It’s great to see that awareness increase. It still can be trickier to recognize, but it is possible.

The decision of what you work on has to be intentional, and helps when it is aligned with your stakeholders’ needs. Neither working style is wrong or worse, it’s simply a choice.

If you go the route of working on many things, be meticulous about keeping track of what parts you contributed where. If you pick a small number of things and focus, let the other things go, and remember it creates other opportunities which is not a bad thing. Either way, check in routinely with your stakeholders to align on what to focus on, and communicate to it and keep track of it.

And remember, there are also 1000 other options, some of which you’ll create that never existed before, and the world will be better for it. :slightly_smiling_face:

Related Posts