You’ve been working for the same company for several years, trying hard and doing well, but you feel like you’re not getting the recognition you deserve. Why is this happening and how to fix it? You will have to abandon the position of the offended child not noticed by their parents, and take the situation into your own hands.
It is not you who went to an important conference, but your colleague, who has been working for the company not nearl as long as you have, and their results do not seem better than yours. Or you accidentally find out that a colleague who does not work better than you was offered a promotion you were not even considered for.
We will not consider a circumstance when the reason why it is hard to get recognition is managment playing favorites. Then the only way to overcome the problem is to change your job. Let’s talk about normal conditions. Sometimes the root of the problem lies not in the results of the work, but in the inability to properly communicate with managers and colleagues. The fact that so-called soft skills have become very important for a successful career now is not an empty phrase and not just hype. This is reality. And soft skills are an ability to properly present oneself and build the right relationships with colleagues.
According to business coach Alena Shimchuk, we need to distinguish two situations:
- When you think that you have no influence on anything, you yourself seem insignificant and unimportant to the company;
- When you are full of enthusiasm and energy, but do not know how to get recognition, make others listen to your ideas.
Situation one: “I think I do not have any influence”
In the first case, Alena advises to start thinking and writing down:
- in what situations you wanted to express yourself, but did not;
- reasons why you did not do it.
As a result, you can figure out what exactly stops you from becoming more noticeable and how you can get recognition. Usually these are fears.
Next, Alena recommends analyzing why you are important to the company you work for. “You can do it yourself, or you can ask your colleagues for a feedback. What do you value in working with me? What would you like to improve in our communication?”. Yes, a conversation of this sort is probably not possible with all of your colleagues. It is important to choose colleagues you have a relatively comfortable relationship with – this would already be a good start.
If your company has 360-degree feedback, or the so-called performance review (or performance assessment), then you already get answers to such questions on them. But if you feel that in your company this is a mere formality, no one gives detailed answers, then ask those you trust to give you an informal honest and detailed assessment.
Your colleagues’ answers will give you reason to feel more confident: you will see that you have no reason to keep a low profile. Then Alena advises to think about the following questions:
- What projects, tasks, actions within the company relate to me and do I have an opinion on them?
- How can I express my opinion so that it sounds convincing, not evaluative or offensive?
- Can this opinion bring any benefit to the company?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I voice this opinion? What will I do if it does happen?
As a rule, the fear of standing out or voicing your thoughts is irrational – you will see that this does not possess any terrible consequences.
Situation two: “I do not know what to do to get recognition”
The second case is when you have no doubts about your importance to the company, but you feel like there is a communication problem. How to draw attention to yourself so that they listen to you? How to get recognition, persude them to make changes to some working decisions at your suggestions? Make them trust your intuition and experience – in a word, make them see you appreciate your professionalism?
Firstly, feel free to speak up and take the initiative. Silent people are not noticed, as obvious as it sounds. So, if you have a problem of shyness, you will have to overcome it. Secondly, you need to speak to the point, and not just for the sake of saying something or correcting someone. It’s bad to be silent, but it’s no better to be an empty talker or a sharp critic.
There are three rules of effective communication:
- Ask questions and listen to other people’s opinions. It’s simple: if you do not ask questions, you won’t have a grasp of someone else’s picture of the world. This could lead to devaluing someone else’s experience and getting the same attitude. At decisive moments, such a person will not have any allies.
- Communicate your ideas well. Talk not only about your assessment (“I think this decision is wrong”), but also give arguments (“I see such and such risks if we make this decision”).
- Criticize respectfully and carefully. If you sees in other people’s ideas as risky or false, try to talk about it without judgment, as gently as possible. Otherwise your colleagues will start to avoid you and consider you toxic. Remember that sharp critics are usually no the ones who get promoted.
Few more advice
1. Invite YOUR MANAGER FOR A FRANK TALK
This way you will find out if managment notices your successes. If not, there will just be a reason to emphasize them. Ask if they see any significant shortcomings in your work.
Real story. Valeria worked in the company for a year: during this time she set up the work of the sales department, introduced KPIs, attracted several large clients, created a knowledge base, but did not receive any feedback from the manager. Once a month, he met with her to discuss tasks and talk about new projects. But no praise, no analysis of mistakes – only operational tasks. Valeria summed up her work for the year and asked for an unscheduled meeting. She explained that it is important for her to receive feedback, to understand that what she does is valuable. Also to know what kind of development directions managment sees for her. The boss tensed up. He postponed the meeting several times, but Valeria was persistent, and the conversation finally took place. After the conversation, Valeria received her feedback and an increase in salary.
2. Choose work tasks carefully
Initiative is good, but you don’t have to take on everything in order to show it and get recognition. And you shouldn’t try to please all of your colleagues. It’s one thing to get a task that will help you grow, and quite another to “work for yourself and that guy”, getting more and more frusturated with colleagues, the company, yourself and the situation.
Real story. Ekaterina joined a small startup as an HR manager. At first, I really liked the job – the office in a cozy loft, quick resolution of issues, a young informal team – in the evening the guys ordered pizza to the office, played mafia and quizes, did sports together. Suddenly, the girl who worked as an office manager left, and Ekaterina was asked to temporary take on her functions. Time passed, the vacancy did not fill. Now, in addition to the tasks of recruiting and adapting staff, working with universities to attract interns, extra respobsibilities such as dealing with mail, sending gifts to clients, ordering office supplies, lunches and pizza, booking restaurants to meet with partners, as well as a thousand other small things have been added. The more Ekaterina did, the more she had to do. And at the end of the year she did not get recognition. Instead of gratitude, she heard that the team lacked her involvement and fresh ideas about training and development.
Hint: before taking on a task beyond your responsibilities, analyze how important it is to the company now and how useful it is for you. Will it help you reach a new professional level? The result can be boasted about (in a good way) as a professional achievement? Or is it a routine work that they just want to push off to someone?
3. KEEP A SCORE OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL WINS
For example, write down words of gratitude from your clients and colleagues in a diary, record the completion of projects and their results in numbers (what specific benefit each of them brought to the company). In a difficult moment, this diary will help you by reminding you of the value that you have already created. And it also will always come in handy for updating your resume.
Real story. Marina recently found her recordings from three years ago, and they were very motivating for her. Over the years, she changed jobs, became a mother, came out of maternity leave. The old records came up during in a very difficult period of conflict at a new job. “I read them and realized that I can do everything. I have already won so many times, and this time I can do it too,” says Marina.
Hint: don’t wait for the right moment, start keeping track of your successes and the ways you get recognition right now.
4. Present your professional wins
This is not an easy task for a person who has been taught since childhood not to show off and “keep their head down”. As a result, resentment accumulates – “I work so hard, but I do not get recognition, no one appreciates my work.”
The truth is that even your manager doesn’t see or understand the full scope of your work, and that’s okay – they have a lot of completely different tasks, and they may simply not be an expert in your particular field to appreciate how difficult is the work you are doing. Same goes for the leaders of the company, their tasks are on a completely different scale! Talk about your results and victories. If the boss is not excited about details, provide a brief explanation of why this or that result is cool.
Hint: use the approach of Western companies, where every month the employee and the manager meet one on one to discuss the results. Take the initiative: ask for such a meeting and tell about your successes.
5. Do not be silent during the company meetings
The easiest step to stop being “invisible” is to actively participate in company meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, express your opinion, share ideas and make suggestions. Of course, exclusively on business and without anything unrelated, and not in such a way as to delay the meeting because of your love to talk. And remember the three principles of effective communication mentioned above.
The more visible you are and the more timely your remarks at meetings, the more weight you get among your colleagues and the more you can get recognition and new prospects for yourself in the company.
Hint: before the meeting, study the agenda, analyze the situation and formulate your suggestions.
6. Propose yourself as a speaker for professional events
Why worry about the company sending let’s say a Petrov, to a prestigious professional conference instead of you? When instead you can propose yourself to be a speaker. Maybe start with simpler activities to show what you can do. Then move to a bigger scale. Say you have a topic. It may very well be that the said Petrov did the same in his time.
And even more so, do not hide behind the backs of colleagues if the PR manager begs someone to “go speak at an event.” This is a chance to become the face of the company, a “brand ambassador”, as such employees are now called. They are always appreciated and they always get recognition.
If you work for a large company, find out about its plans to participate in professional conferences, meetups and exhibitions. If you have been in the profession for a long time, you probably have something to say about the product, technology, business processes or customer experience – in a word, share your expertise. Talk to the PR department about it as soon as possible, so that you are included in the list of possible speakers for the year. Public speaking is a great opportunity to raise your authority among colleagues and at the same time make yourself known in the professional community.
Real story. Yurii, head of the internal control department at a bank, after speaking at several conferences, received an offer to teach at prestigious advanced training courses for bank employees. His boss reacted favorably to this idea, and Yurii’s authority in the eyes of his colleagues increased significantly.
Hint: Great presentations require preparation, so practice beforehand or enroll in a presentation class.
7. GET proof of your professional value
Responding to vacancies and going to interviews from time to time is a good habit to have. Even if you are safisfied with your current work place so far. You get an objective assessment of how valuable of a specialist you are, you understand what skills and competencies the market expects from professionals like you (and you can study if you see that you are lagging behind the industry), what offers you can count on (some of they can quickly lift you up several steps on the career ladder at once, which might not happen at your current place). And at the same time, you train your presentation skills.
Vitaliy, CFO, goes to 1-2 interviews every six months. At the same time, in the company where he now works, everything suits him.
“For me, the interview is a way to structure my experience, rethink the results, and also see a different perspective. I always come back from an interview with new ideas, and once I even lured a recruiter away. She had such a professional communication!”
Tip: Updating your resume and going to interviews is the best way to measure the market value of your skills. It may turn out that you can count on a higher salary than you get at your current place, or, conversely, that your conditions here are better than the average for the market.
Author: Irina Khomenko, career consultant, head of HR projects.