Many corporations are turning over much of their work to independent contractors. This may lead you to believe that fine tuning your ability to work independently needs to resonate when compiling your work ethic data for resumes. The other push toward a worker who can manage themselves is the continued pressure for companies to maximize their profits, which means a manager who used to supervise five people now may oversee 25. So independence counts now, perhaps like never before.
Statistically speaking, somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 million people earn a living as independent workers, consultants and freelancers. That estimate is a big increase from the 10.3 million independent contractors counted in 2005 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It goes without saying, however, that independent-thinking workers still need to nurture their collaborative side too. Team playing is an integral part of the work force too. Good team players, despite differences they may have with other team members concerning style and perspective, figure out ways to work together to solve problems and get work done. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.
How do you embrace independent thinking with an ability to collaborate and be a team player?
Embrace the duality. Pair up your ability to work independently with an eagerness to collaborate and support your team. Learn to navigate effortlessly from your focused, driven independent tasks and your collaborative ones. If you are the kind of person who needs time to adjust thinking or mindset, schedule 15 or 20 minutes before a team meeting and focus on how you will share and interact with others.
Give yourself advantages. Most people don’t take enough time to consider how to play to their strengths. Those who do already are ahead of the crowd, no matter whether they’re an independent CPA or a project manager who supervises a remote team.
Ask for feedback on your independent tasks. If you’ve been working as an independent contractor for three months, it’s time to see what’s working and where you could step up your game. If you have been working from home two days a week, sit down with your boss and also your peers to get their perspectives on any balls that are dropped or any cues you’re missing.
Even for the most independent of jobs, communication is essential. Make sure you share your progress reports, insights and ideas. And do make some of that communication face to face. All this could assure your independence continues to be appreciated and rewarded.