Most of us believe that actions speak louder than words. Most of us think that if we work hard enough, others will notice and shower us with accolades. Most of us have been raised to not talk about our achievements because it's considered “bragging”. Many of us have also lost opportunities because we did not speak up. We often rely on our supervisors, managers and peers to advocate for us and tell other people about our work. When it doesn’t happen, we are left disappointed and feel unrecognized.
If you identify with any of the statements above, then you are probably thinking about how to move ahead in your career and get what you deserve. You shouldn’t rely solely on others to be your voice. That is a lot of burden for the other person. You know yourself and your work the best and therefore you are the best person to advocate for yourself.
You cannot expect others to advocate for you, if you cannot advocate for yourself!
Here’s 5 actions you can take to bring more visibility to your work and showcase your impact.
1. Get out of your comfort zone
Talking about your work can feel uncomfortable especially if it goes against your cultural upbringing. You have to break those shackles and consciously put yourself out. Speaking about your own work will get easier as you start doing it more. In order to not sound boastful, you can focus on the impact of the work and how it was achieved. This is different from talking about yourself. Put the spotlight on your work and the results you produced instead of yourself. This will ensure that your message lands correctly. You can take it a step further and talk about the benefits of your work to the team, org or company. Challenge yourself to push ahead with one conversation at a time.
2. Solve problems that no one else wants to
In my first job, I saw a coworker always go after the gnarliest of problems even if it was outside their main scope of work. This was definitely a factor in their meteoric rise to senior management. I was inspired to do the same and consequently saw positive results.
When you proactively take on challenging problems, it brings forth your leadership skills and showcases your ability to deal with difficult situations. Management values such contributions because they can rely on you. They feel less anxious as they have one less thing to worry about. You will build trust and credibility with the right people. Additionally, challenging problems are opportunities to be creative. You will develop deeper skills working on such complex issues which helps elevate your craft.
3. Share out your work regularly
When you are working on any program/s, provide regular updates on the status to keep your stakeholders informed. Status reports can feel time consuming and at times pointless. Many TPMs on my team have complained about why they need to send something on a regular basis. Why not just do it when there is a significant change or progress. However, your stakeholders don’t know whether the lack of communication indicates lack of progress or not.
The CEO at one of the startups I worked at, used to say that “if you feel you are over communicating, it means your communication is just about right”
When you provide predictability and visibility into your programs, your stakeholders will be thankful. Remember, your stakeholders also need to report upwards and you can easily reduce their anxiety through predictable updates. Seeing your name regularly pop up in their Inbox means you will be top in their minds. You will form trust and credibility and gain recognition for your work in the process.
4. Seek out people who will challenge you
Getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself can become easier when you have the support of people around you. Find the right people who will help you as well as challenge you when needed. Ideally, these folks are strong at advocating for themselves and can share how best to do it. You can lean on your friends and spouse. Or you can find a mentor at work who shares more context. You can also hire a coach who can unlock your true potential. They can help you understand your own challenges so you can make informed choices about your future. A coach can help you strengthen your leadership skills and empower you to be more proactive and effective.
5. Find a sponsor
Finally, find a sponsor who can be your voice where you may not be present. A sponsor is generally an influential senior leader who can vouch for your work. Keep in mind though, you have to still let the sponsor know about your goals, your work and what you need from them.
The skills of advocating for yourself are also important when interviewing for a job. Hiring managers are interested in knowing specifically about your contributions to a project. In fact, throughout your professional life and even in your personal endeavors, you will find that this skill will bring you the results you desire.
If this post was helpful, please share and comment. I would love to hear from you especially if you have tried something from one of my posts.
If you find it difficult to talk about your work or if you feel like you are not getting the recognition you deserve. If you want someone to help bring the best out of you, I can help. Contact to set up an introductory consultation.