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How to Make an Impact

Goal Setting
Impact
Productivity

24 September, 2021

Rushabh Shah
Rushabh Shah

Principal Software Engineer at Harness

Rushabh Shah, Principal Software Engineer at Harness, discusses how to make an impact regardless of the role one is in.

Problem

How do people grow in their careers? Simply: by making an impact. But, making an impact is not as easy as it seems. Some people appear to be more successful in making an impact than others, whether they are ICs or leaders. Is it an innate talent or something that we can learn and perfect? While the answer is likely somewhere in between, as with anything else, learning and practicing can only help. I have created simple guidelines that should help anyone, regardless of their role, to make an impact.

Actions taken

First and foremost, identify a goal. The goal should be SMART, (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

Next, identify all stakeholders and map out how your goal would impact them. Depending on your goals, your stakeholders can be your peers, customers, team members, anyone to whom you want to deliver something. Have them become engaged: sell them the idea before you invest time working toward that goal. Also, use them as a sounding board -- solicit feedback to see if what you are doing makes sense. Stakeholders are critical in validating if an idea is worth pursuing, but the partnership you will forge with them will make them your allies in a joint venture. Your stakeholders should become your most vocal supporters who would want you to succeed more than anything else. Why? Because you will make their life better.

Working with the team is no different. You want to communicate your ideas and update your team on any developments regularly. Rather than having them ask you for updates, proactively provide them. I think that my communication approach is succinctly captured in a dichotomy of push vs. pull. That approach will position you as a leader with a vision that has an impactful goal and can develop an actionable plan. Another thing that will bring you closer to making an impact is to lead your team by example. You should demonstrate key principles and work ethics in your own actions. Serving as a role model will raise a bar a bit higher, making you a better leader.

In the end, it’s essential to keep people excited and motivated about your project. Often, people are excited at the start of the project, but then the motivation starts to fade, and people tend to lose interest. To keep their enthusiasm high, you should be able to visualize the end goal every day and remind the team of the benefits of achieving that goal. If your goal is placed further away into the future, you should break it down and have small wins. By celebrating small wins, you will showcase the regular progress.

Lessons learned

  • I personally follow and encourage others to follow the guidelines above. But they are made for an ideal case, and things rarely go according to plan. While these guidelines can bring you confidence, prepare to embrace turbulences, pitfalls, and failures that will be your companion on this road. Whatever difficulties you stumble upon, don’t be discouraged; instead, take it as a learning opportunity.
  • Stay positive. People like to be surrounded by people who have positive mindsets. The impactful person will not allow negativity to consume them, let alone affect people around them. The key is to be able to solve the problem that is troubling people—no pointing fingers but rolling up the sleeves.
  • Communication is key. With stakeholders, peers, and team members, always pursue proactive communication. You will not make an impact if people around you will not understand what and why you are doing.

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