In quarterly conversation with my manager, for questions like how I’ve contributed to Quality or any other sub dimension I got response that I should talk about team and not only how I (as an IC) contributed. And I honestly struggle here. Any tips? How I upgrade myself to talk about impact at team/bigger level and not only at personal level?
Having team influence is part of being mid-to-senior level. You-scope is entry-level scope.
I am a little confused at the phrasing here, though. You’re asking how to talk about it, but I’m not sure if you are actually doing it. If you don’t know how to enunciate impact, that’s a general growth area and should be something your manager or mentor is able to aid with directly. If you are coaching through effective code reviews, and have taken some common feedback and socialized it as code guidelines for the team, new lint rules, or whatever… then you are having team impact. To enunciate that you need to show that there were X reviews in a given period with Y problem, and now it never happens.
If you’re not having team impact that’s a different problem than not knowing how to talk about it. You should assess what you are good at, and be spreading that to the team through process and training. You should be assessing what you and the team could be better at and getting the help from others to fill those not just for you but for the team. You are close to the problems the team has, you should be starting to assess what those are, and either ideating solutions or seeking them from others if you can’t figure them out. I wouldn’t put it explicitly on you to be prioritizing these, getting them scoped, getting them on a roadmap, getting resources, and so on… that’s a little more senior-scope, but you should be starting down this path and getting senior or manager aid to get the rest done.
Does your team have a set of benchmarks or goals? If so, I'd start a discussion around what success looks like for the team on various dimensions, eg. Quality.
Once you have that defined, it should become much easier to document how your work ladders up to the team goals. When you have conversations with the team or manager, you should always phrase your work in service of what the team cares about.
Here's an example:
Let's consider 2 ways of phrasing the work you did here.
Poor phrasing: I fixed all the flaky tests in the module that I own.
This is not a very good way of describing what you did. It focuses on what you did in your silo, but doesn't connect it back to what the team actually wants.
This is much, much better. You start by providing a rationale for why you started with a module, thanked someone on the team for their help, and then you went the extra mile to make it dead simple for others on the team to contribute. This is more work than the first phrasing, but you'll be perceived so much better.
Thank you for great advice Lee & Rahul. As a mid-level engineer, I do work on many things that has team-level impact. but while talking about it in quarterly conversations I feel stuck and not know how to effectively communicate impact I was making/trying to make
On top of the excellent thoughts from Lee & Rahul, here's my thoughts:
On a related note, I recommend this in-depth write-up I did on writing stellar project update posts (which covers the thanks angle).