Itemize Individual Contributions to Team Results

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An interview is an excellent opportunity to blow your own horn, trumpet individual performance and brag about your accomplishments in a politically correct environment. However, in our team oriented culture, we sometimes forget that individual accomplishment is important. Frequently in an interview, candidates answer questions highlighting team accomplishments. They falsely believe the interview is a place only to celebrate team achievement. After all, we are constantly immersed in the value of effectively utilizing teams to reach corporate objectives. It seems only logical to use team vernacular in the interview to respond to the behaviorally based interview questions.

Candidates may fail to realize, that it is difficult for the interviewer, especially one who lacks a lot of interview experience, to extract an individual’s role in team centered answers. Therefore it is incumbent upon you as a candidate to isolate and itemize your contributions to the overall success of the team. The interview therefore, becomes a safe place for you to clarify and celebrate your individual accomplishments.

As a member of the team, you are expected to use team specific language while working on the job. We know it is important for you to coordinate your activities and collaborate with others to achieve a synergistic effect. But in the midst of daily activities, it is important for you to keep a record of your unique input to the overall project. This may involve questions asked, suggestions made and challenges delivered to accepted practices or ideas. In a team oriented department / organization, it is sometimes difficult to separate individual results from team performance. However, a strategic approach is necessary to isolate and itemize your contributions, as you climb the corporate ladder or interview for a job in another organization.

You must develop a “We / I” mentality. State that “We achieved a certain result and I was able to contribute in this achievement;” Then specifically itemize your contributions. The “We / I” based orientation is hard to do at first, but with practice and training, it will become a natural part of your conversation. The conversation that helps you develop an up-to-date resume, examples to be used in an interview and information necessary to grow your skills and abilities. It is critical to have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you will know where they need to be enhanced. If you know your strengths, competencies, abilities, skills and talents, you can utilize them to effectively and accurately assess results and explain your actions.

The objective of “We / I” is not to put yourself in competition with your team members. It is not an opportunity to tell how you are more important to the team than your teammates. Part of the success of the team is the collective contributions of each member and the synergy created to get results. The idea of working in order to get credit for your actions can be counterproductive to the smooth working of the group. I believe the old adage that states,” consider the amount of work that can be done if we didn’t worry about who got credit for the results.” It is important in a team setting for everyone to work for the betterment and efficiency of the team to succeed as a unit.

Many organizations will tout the value of their teams. Some of these organizations will design their incentive programs to reward team performance. However, they will also assess individual performance. They will breakout or itemize individual performance through concentrating on particular behaviors. Recognizing these individual behaviors and distinctions are important when deciding career growth, promotions and succession planning.

Interviewers ask follow-up questions to determine the candidate’s role in their department’s success. When the candidates language and examples are structured in the context of what “we accomplished” the interviewer has to work too hard to obtain information. Many may not be patient enough and place the candidate in the” Not Interested” pile.  not interested”

Do not want the interview to incur the extra effort required to probe for individual contributions. You should provide concrete examples of your ideas; strategies and challenges that helped the team become better. You do not want to make it difficult for them to determine if you were an active member of the team or a member hiding behind the team’s reputation with very few ideas of your own. Interviewers look for the leadership role played in achieving results, rather than someone who just served as a follower or implementer of the ideas of others.

Candidates are frustrated by a perceived inconsistency between a team oriented culture and individualistic specific questions in an interview. When they receive the feedback that they did not specifically itemize their contributions to the team, they are confused. They feel as if the organization is sending mixed messages. Therefore, organizations need to clarify and ask people working in a team environment to track their individual contributions to the team and the reasons behind the request. We can compare this to team performances in other areas of our lives, whether in the field of athletics, academia, music or community activities. Success may be measured by the overall group achieving a goal, but there may be individual statistics, ideas, questions or actions that help the group reach its objectives.

If you’re working in a group where team performance is paramount, undoubtedly you are constantly thinking about achieving team objectives. These thoughts about achieving objectives will lead to actions that will inspire, challenge or push the team toward success, however it is measured. There will come a time when this project, job or assignment is over and you decide to move on to a different role. When you arrive at the different role, at some point in the interview, they will want to know the success of your team and your role in helping that team excel. The more clarity they can gain around your contributions, the better they will be able to determine if you are a person they need to fill the vacant position. Protect your career, assess your contributions and establish a system to itemize your contributions to the overall success of your group, team, Department or organization.  This will lead to better interviews and pave the way for a successful career through clearly stating the scope of your performance.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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