Where Does Sense of Accomplishment Come From?

    July 10, 2006

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that a sense of accomplishment is pretty important but it’s not always obvious where it comes from.

I’ve really only asked people about it in the context of a job interview. You get some interesting answers doing that, often times because the candidate hasn’t really thought about it before.

I don’t think there’s any single answer for everyone in every situation, but it’s clear that there are a few common sources. And they seem to match the different roles people find themselves in at work.

1. Solo work (the individual contributor). Some of the best engineers I know are those who really, really know their stuff and can be insanely productive if you simply get out of their way.

Meetings are often a waste of their time. They pride themselves on getting their hands dirty and quickly producing quality, tangible results.

2. Team work (team player). Others prefer collaboration to individual work. They’re skilled in the art of compromise and can easily navigate the politics that often emerge in group settings. Their sense of accomplishment is directly tied to what the group as a whole produces.

3. Leadership (team lead or manager). Often the unsung heros, good managers work behind the scenes to make things run smoothly and give their teams the freedom and authority they need to get the job done. T

hey pride themselves on the quality of the team’s work and encourage their employees to shine. They’re happy to see their team recognized for going a great job.

In reality, I think many of us derive our sense of accomplishment from a mix of those. Consider the solo worker who is also a very successful married parent. She may be a solo worker on the job and a team player at home.

What about you?

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

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