Recognition at work - why you deserve it and how to get it
Gaining recognition and seeing your hard work validated is a big part of what motivates all of us in the workplace. In my many years of coaching, I’ve observed that where that recognition is not forthcoming, a sense of real frustration can develop.
Although not specific to female clients, in my experience this has been more apparent with women. What starts as a minor frustration can lead to real resentment as women feel they are delivering to a high standard, but that the professional opportunities that should create are not materialising.
Here are three strategies you can use to get the recognition you deserve at work. Let's explore them together...
Taking control of a situation will always put you on the front foot, so I’ll often pose the question as to what you feel you need to do to raise your visibility and counter this lack of acknowledgement. This can result in interesting discussions about ego and self-confidence and about how being confident in your abilities and being vocal about your expectations in relation to those abilities feels politicising, self-promoting or boastful.
This is where I find that as a coach, I need to be a supportive but tough thinking partner. In my experience, difficult truths will push a client out of their comfort zone and force them to act in their own best interests.
Build your personal brand
Doing a great job isn’t enough, you have to tell people you are doing a great job. You need to be very clear about what your career goals are. Make yourself the person who first springs to mind when those opportunities arise.
In coaching terms, we call this ‘communicating your personal brand’. And although at first glance that might appear to be an eye-rolling piece of management speak, it really is an important part of professional development.
I’m not advocating a complete change in personality; becoming an overblown version of yourself who uses any opportunity to talk up your skills. It's perfectly possible to raise the visibility of your brand and gain warranted recognition in an authentic way.
Treat your brand as an integral part of how you operate at work. Be yourself of course, but for example, if you know you have a great deal of knowledge on a particular subject, be the person who puts themselves forward to run a training session. Even if that means challenging yourself to move out of where you’re most comfortable. Don’t allow a less well qualified, but more vocal colleague to shine in a spotlight that should be yours.
I encourage clients to challenge themselves to among other things: speak at conferences, write articles, chair working groups and have regular, informal one-to-ones with their networks.
When you are looking at opportunities to raise your visibility, don’t think why me, think why not me?
Recognise your achievements
Reaching a level where you’re comfortable pushing your brand isn’t easy. If you’re finding it challenging initially, the following exercise can be useful.
At the end of each week jot down three of your achievements for that week, and also three projects or goals you are going to be working on, or would like the opportunity to work on.
Not only is this a great way to take a moment to focus on what you've achieved, rather than worrying about what’s still on your to-do list, it means that when you have one of those impromptu conversations that start with someone asking, ‘How are things?’ interesting answers will quickly come to mind.
Never miss an opportunity to enter into a useful discussion with a colleague or influential member of your network. Telling them you’re ‘fine’, helps no one and is unlikely to spark any interesting debate. However, leading with the project you’re interested in, or have stepped up to lead, will pique their interest in you and make them much more likely to share your conversation within their network. And who knows where that may lead.
‘Really interesting, I bumped into Julie the other day, she’s planning on running a coaching webinar for a network of legal professionals. She mentioned that she’s offering similar webinars to other networks, I think she’d be great for the leadership network you run. Shall I give you her details?’ Certainly more memorable than, ‘I bumped into Julie the other day, she’s…fine’.
As is so often the case with coaching, we can help you identify ways to make you accountable and encourage you into taking action that will benefit your professional life and also your personal life. Staying in the same place is comfortable, but pushing yourself to move out of it is much more exciting.