“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.”—Theodore Roosevelt
You might be annoyed that no one appreciates or acknowledges all that you do at work. You might grumble to yourself when someone less committed gets ‘your’ promotion. But if you want people to recognize your diligence, work and efforts, you have to make them known.
Many people don’t like indulging in self-praise, but when it comes to your career, you have to step out of your comfort zone and speak up if you want to be recognized. This is especially true if you feel you are at a disadvantage versus your coworkers.
You might be a woman working in a male-dominated field or you might be fresh out of college or maybe you transferred to a new department and have to start from the bottom. No matter what the reason, you have to work a little harder to prove yourself.
Thoughts are thoughts, but it takes words and actions to effect change in your life. While bragging is definitely to be avoided, there are many ways to “blow your own horn” and spread the word about your accomplishments in a productive way. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to getting recognition from your boss.
As a consultant, it’s absolutely critical that I publicize the work my company does, otherwise, how would other clients know to hire us? This includes not only external publicity, but also spreading the word internally at a client where we are working on a project.
This publicity usually focuses on getting to know people in other departments, especially managers, since they are the best ways to learn about new projects or to increase the chances of being tapped to fill open positions before they get posted outside. I’m going to cover a few simple rules that will help you market yourself inside your company
This tactic not only wins friends, but it demonstrates that you are both hardworking and knowledgeable. Going out of your way to help others in getting their work done makes a good impression. People will naturally want to work with you and assist you in return and they’ll usually have a nice word or two to say on your behalf. That’s one more person who can vouch for your committed and assiduous work ethic.
When I was working on a project at a multinational corporation a few years ago, I discovered that they had deployed collaboration software that was hardly being used. I decided to leverage this software to help manage my work and quickly became the local expert. My skills allowed me to build and administer project and document management websites using the built-in development environment.
I then began offering my services to other departments to help them get up and running with their own websites. After successfully launching a few sites, one of the other managers contacted me about an opportunity on his team that eventually led to a new project for us.
In a similar fashion, an employee could offer their services to assist coworkers in need. It may require some unpaid overtime and you may have to justify it to your manager, but the end result will be positive for both you, your coworkers and your company. It’s a great method for getting recognition from your boss.
And even if your manager shoots you down, you’ll still get some brownie points for making the offer.
Ask for Help If You Need It
By asking a coworker for help or soliciting a little advice from your boss, you’re letting that person know two important things: one, what it is you’re working on and two, that you’re going out of your way to do it well. Plus, most people like being asked for a little help, because it shows that you respect their opinion. They won’t think less of you; in fact, they’ll probably like you more for it.
Another useful strategy is to maintain a running log of your work and keep your boss up-to-date on your activities. Don’t assume that she knows everything you’re doing. Because she doesn’t.
Getting recognition from your boss is that much more difficult if she doesn’t know what you’re working on.
As a consultant, weekly status reports are probably my most important communication tool. They are like the steady heartbeat of a project and provide both continuity and regular updates that keep everyone on the same page.
Status reports also are a great way to keep your accomplishments front and center with everyone on the project. Everyone is busy with day-to-day issues, your boss included. Make it easy for her to be aware of what you’re working on, the problems you have overcome and major tasks you have successfully completed.
Don’t Be Shy
When people ask what you’ve been doing, tell them! You don’t have to go on an hour-long rant about how overloaded you are, but you can take advantage of the invitation to list a few recent accomplishments. Don’t give up an opportunity to make yourself look better just because you feel uncomfortable talking about what you’ve done. Take the initiative.
This has less to do with trendy, positive-thinking, mumbo-jumbo and more to do with basic psychology. According to research from Echnische Universität in Munich, Germany, smiling creates a positive feedback loop that actually modifies the neural processing of emotional content in the brain. Given that people tend to mimic the emotional expressions of others, this means that your smile can make those around you to feel happier.
If your coworkers feel happier when you’re around, they will be more likely to perceive you as more capable of getting the job done. Especially when compared to someone is constantly frowning — even if just in concentration — since they appear to be stressed, unhappy, or just plain lost.
Of course, everybody gets stressed at work. But if you can train yourself to become more conscious of your expression, it’s a habit that will pay large dividends. If you appear to be happy and content, you’re much more likely to draw positive attention to yourself and get a chance to share your successes.
No one’s going to be as big an advocate for your work as you. So if you want your boss and coworkers to know how hard you’ve been working, it will take some strategy on your part to come across as accomplished without being brash.
And with a little thought and effort, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro at eloquent and subtle personal marketing. Don’t get aggravated or frustrated when your efforts are overlooked. Instead, follow these strategies to make your voice heard and your work recognized by those around you.
Emma Iskowitz and Beth Wegscheider contributed to this article.