You have graduated and now you have a job as a Biomedical Engineer or BMET. You have been accepted as having the potential to make a contribution to your new company. What does it really mean? Well basically it means that your new boss and his boss thinks they can use you to further the company and their own career goals. Not too flattering an assessment of managers but nonetheless generally true. The reality is that your choice is seen as a double edged sword to a majority of the managers you will have. If you succeed, they look good. If you fail, they look bad. If you are too successful you could replace them or worse catapult over them. As a result to succeed in a corporation you need to work hard and also be politically aware. Corporation politics will always be shifting. You need to be aware of these realities. So stick your head up from that technical project you are assigned to work on every once in a while and check. Which project looks like it has upper management support? Which department is expanding? Which manager has a good reputation?
You need to remember that an engineering manager in the health care field or any manager for that matter is intent on getting to the next position. To do that they need to keep their record of success squeaky clean. The really aggressive managers will be very aware of even the hint of failing to meet their goals.
Each year corporations set yearly goals which spawn department goals which in turn determine a large number of the individual employees goals. Meeting and exceeding these goals is the number one way of gaining recognition for promotion. So very literally you can make or break your managers ability to get that yearly bonus or get that next promotion. That goes for you too. Goal setting and making will determine whether you stay on track for promotion.
Goals are typically set in a meeting with your manager. Ideally you want to make goals that meet your department and projects needs and that you can meet without relying on someone else. Its not that easy, however, because there will always be something called “stretch” goals which basically are meant to be challenging, if not impossible, to meet. A large corporation will typically have a short introduction on how to set goals with your manager. Goal setting should be a negotiation between you and your manager. There typically are personal goals. This is where you can enter one or two items pertaining to your own professional growth. If you are considering becoming a manager some day you need to make that clear to human resources when you get the position. It will typically be noted and forwarded to your manager. Your personal goals would be a good place to negotiate leadership experience opportunities with your boss. Communication is a cardinal rule when it come to these goals. Always inform your manager if anything crops up that has the potential for delaying the goal. Better to inform them earlier than later so that they can adjust expectations if necessary.
If you are lucky you will get a manager that is a master of corporate politics and also understands that if you look good they look good. About 20% of my managers have had that outlook. Below is an interesting study and some insights that will help you understand one of the dynamics that get an individual into the management position. You may wish to keep these insights in mind if you get tired of working on technical challenges. You can verify the veracity of these insights by observing the characteristics of individuals at your job and their career path. Remember you need to tell your manager of your aspirations and demonstrate that you have “leadership” qualities. At large corporations there will typically be a set of criteria that need to be met.
The following article provides insight into what impresses people in a corporate environment. My take is that you need to speak up if you have an opinion or question. Getting noticed is the first step. You don’t have to hit a home run. You do have to be involved.
Just how and why are those business goals set? Here is a Small Business Administration (SBA) document and two internet articles that gives the basics. The SBA article give you insight into how businesses set their goals. I strongly suggest reading the first and the third link below.