Engineer to the Rescue

Engineer to the Rescue

It’s 20 minutes until when you’d normally leave your office and your boss rushes in. There’s something wrong in manufacturing. Or maybe there’s some particular analysis that needs to be done for the customer or some report that he needs for his boss. Of course, you’re the only one that can help. Does this sound familiar to you? If so you’re probably trying to figure out what to do about it.

Allison Green over at Ask a Manager recently answered a question from a reader that covered this very topic. In fact, they are an electrical engineer. They wonder what you do when you’ve become the go to person and are maybe under appreciated as well. Click the link to go over to the Ask a Manager blog, read Allison’s response, and check out the readers’ discussion.  Here’s a snippet of what the original writer is talking about:

I feel under-appreciated for being someone who can solve these problems. In fact, the whole environment feels like one big co-dependent relationship, with project managers and contractors playing roles of victim or narcissist, and I have to come in as rescuer, and I am SO over it.

I think that story will sound familiar to many engineers. How do you juggle your “regular” responsibilities with all these emergencies that crop up. Especially when the emergency might be coming in from someone in your chain of command. But if you neglect your regular job duties, you won’t be looked at as a stellar performer either. So what do you do?

First of all, I think it’s important to prioritize what your boss and those in your direct chain of command care about. If you help out another department, your department head may not really care that you were there at the right place at the right time. If you can, get a clear priority list from your boss. This may be tough to get. And even when you get it, it’s going to be hard to say no to higher ups from other groups. They may take their anger out on you.

Another major issue too is getting some sort of recognition for being the go to person. Being able to switch your focus quickly and handle a variety of emergencies is a big deal. Not everyone possesses that kind of skill. But getting your superiors to recognize it may just result in them finding a new go to person. This may be what you want, or you may be happy working in a fast paced flexible environment. Or your superiors may think you ungrateful or too demanding in what continues to be a poor economy and poor job market.

So what do you think readers; are you the go to person at your workplace? Do you enjoy it or is it something you despise? Have you ever had any success in getting recognition for it or were your concerns dismissed?

2 comments

I’m fortunately not in the particular position you describe. I feel very appreciated at my job, so when I get asked for something, I try to do what I can.

On the other hand, if I didn’t feel appreciated, I’m likely the kind of person that would say, “I’ll get to it on my own time,” or, “I can finish this tonight, but I won’t be in tomorrow.” I don’t think I’d be around very long in that sort of environment, however.

I am the magical data fairy of my research group. This is probably going to be my Halloween costume… It’s very problematic, because this year, my advisor has spent so much time forcibly sidetracking me that I’m feeling very behind on my main projects. Unfortunately, my chain of command is pretty much him, so my options are somewhat more limited than in an industrial context.

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