Speak up on behalf of your own contributions
(by Simone Lawrence)
There is no surprise that women are often the preferred foot soldiers when there is a job that needs to be driven across the line efficiently and effectively. Do you find yourself being the foot soldier on the ground?
Often, being a very enthusiastic contributor with a broad spectrum of talent, you may find yourself putting your hand up for multiple projects and getting involved in a variety of professional pursuits that are typically geared towards benefitting the project, helping other people or the organization. Without sparing a thought as to how what you are working on could also benefit yourself.
Moving through your career with this unconscious conscientiousness can bring about a lot of success and yet there is a fundamental action that is often totally overlooked or deprioritized. This fundamental action could bring more attention and recognition to the value you bring and help advance your career.
The action that is missing
The fundamental action is to simply communicate openly and regularly to the right people about what you are working on. Well, it sounds simple and yet can actually be quite hard, especially for women who have been raised under the notion that doing a good job and not drawing attention to yourself is preferable.
Typical actions are:
- Moving through your workload and actions,
- Ticking things off and being solely focused on moving through your to do list
- Getting things done without letting anybody know about your progress along the way
Do you resonate with some of these typical actions? If that has been your mode of operation that has got you to where you are today, be aware that if that were to continue it may be a risk factor in creating more future success.
Your own contributions may seem small or unimportant to you, not noteworthy enough to make noise about. Perhaps you tell yourself things like “I am just doing my job” or “I don’t see what I do on a day to day basis as special or noteworthy” or “I don’t think anybody would be interested in hearing about it” or “that’s just what I do, I get things done, I don’t have time to talk about it”.
Sometimes, after years of this diligent approach and self-effacing thinking women can start to feel resentful or exasperated about the lack of recognition they are receiving. Starting to question why is my hard work and achievements not noticed? Why are other people in the organization surpassing me and getting noticed more when they actually do less?
What are the signs that this might be happening to you?
One sign might be when you are having a performance review with your supervisor or a conversation with a potential business partner or supplier or customer and you realize in those discussions that something that you believe you are contributing to the organization isn’t necessarily being recognized or appreciated. Another sign is when you see people that aren’t necessarily contributing at the level you are getting promoted ahead of you or in business this may be causing you frustration when others are not pulling their weight.
If you recognize yourself here, you may suffer from the habit of “Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions”. This is habit 2 from How Women Rise -12 habits that hold women back from your next raise, promotion or job book written by Sally Helgesen. This habit means to decline to take responsibility for getting noticed by failing to communicate what you are doing or the value of what you contribute. Bearing in mind that limiting behaviors can also be strengths, it is not about changing the way you operate because your diligence is working for you, rather it is about adding to it and starting to bring more visibility to your contributions. With the knowledge that the only person who truly knows what you are doing is you.
What can you do to overcome this?
Take responsibility for yourself
Once it is understood that it is your individual responsibility to bring awareness to the work you are doing then you can make that a regular part of the working week to decide who needs to know and share appropriately.
Reflect and get ready to articulate
Book regular self-reflection meetings with yourself. This involves creating a regular time for reflection, perhaps recording notes or journaling and identifying exactly what your contributions have been and planning out your communication strategy.
See what you do as important news
Notice during your reflection whether you immediately diminish your works importance as trivial or normal and challenge yourself to think differently. Remember, what is normal or trivial to you because you accomplish it readily and easily may be very impressive for others.
Something to think about
In any case, how would you know how well the information can be received by others if you are not speaking up about it. Time to test it out and start challenging yourself to talk about your contributions on a regular basis to those that need to know.
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