Monday, April 16, 2012 1:10 PM
Here’s an interesting experiment to try. Write down all the projects, initiatives, operations, and successes that you were part of at work over the last year. Once you have your list, go to a few people in your organization:
- Your boss
- A team member
- Your immediate manager
- A colleague that’s not on your team
The point is, go to various people that hold various roles within your organization. Now, ask them this question:
What did I do this past year?
Maybe they’ll come up with a few things, maybe one or two, or maybe none at all. Now assess the results and consider this:
If the people you talked to had limited or no knowledge about what you did in the past year, you failed at communicating your value.
We can have a tendency of not tooting our own horns. We don’t want to be “that guy” – you know, the obnoxious, arrogant, conceited, attention seeker that flaunts themselves to anyone they see. So we shy away from telling people about our triumphs. We play humble, knowing that supposedly its the meek that will inherit the world.
But to do so does yourself a disservice – not just to you but to your organization as well. Businesses want people who are willing to invest in the organization beyond their job description. They want people who will contribute in meaningful, valuable ways and they want those people to be recognized. The nuance for us is to communicate our value in a way that isn’t offensive to others. We need to get over our own misconception that telling people how valuable we are is somehow egotistical.
One of the comments I got recently from my annual review was that people weren’t sure what I was working on, or when I was working. There was no visibility into my work week, and as a result people made certain assumptions based on the information they had. This really bothered me, as I was involved with many project, business development, community, HR, and internal initiatives throughout the year.
The missing connection was *telling* people about what I was working on. In a way, you need to sell yourself internally to your managers and co-workers in the same way that advertisers do on TV. If you’re not in front of them on a regular basis, you’re not top of mind.
At the suggestion from my direct boss/career mentor, I’ve now started doing weekly reports to management, sales, and my project leaders to ensure that everyone is up to date on what exactly I had been working on the week prior. This isn’t a detailed list of hours and tasks – that’s what our time sheet system is for. This is just paragraphs summarizing work completed the week before. By doing this, it accomplishes a few things:
Keeps key people in the organization up to speed on my activities and keeps me top of mind.
Keeps me accountable to better track the work that I’m doing every week. I now add an all-day appointment in Outlook called Notes where I keep a running tally of what I accomplished, and I ensure that anything I work on is blocked off in my Outlook calendar.
Alerts people to any issues/concerns. Sometimes we can have the “how to boil a frog” view of things. Frogs, from what I’ve been told, can’t detect increases in temperature very well. So if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, then turn the heat on to boil the water, the frog won’t catch on and will die. Work can be like that for us – where we just keep getting more and more tacked on and not realize that we’re overloading ourselves. Reporting on activity can flag our managers/bosses that maybe we need to delegate activities or re-prioritize them.
Companies hire us because they want us to be valuable. If we’re valuable, then the company profits from that and hopefully we get acknowledged. Don’t feel bad about communicating that value. Note that I didn’t use words like “great” or “important” or similar verbiage. They suggest the type of attitude most try and avoid – egotistical, arrogant, self-centered. Value is what we’re focussing on here and it can be delivered in the most humble of ways.