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When Self Promotion Is Far From Shameless


In our last post, we spoke to how remaining relevant in the work environment through continuous learning and exposure to new things is a key element in controlling your own fate and being happy.

Still, just because you’re positioned to be relevant to the organization, I’m sure you’re wondering:

“How I can truly take control of my own fate when I’m in an organization where other people may have an influence on my direction?”

Simple: Don’t expect others to figure out what you want. Your manager is not a mind reader.

This makes communication another key element of controlling your own fate. If you’re sitting there saying, “I’m sure if I put my head down and do my work, they’ll give me what I want,” you could be in for a great deal of disappointment and frustration.

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes for a moment. Think of all the various people, projects and priorities pulling them in every direction. What makes you assume that they know exactly what your goals are…if you haven’t told them?

Let me give you an example: I was working in a company where I was relevant to the business. Still, what I really wanted was an assignment in Europe. But I just never told anyone. Then I started meeting with the VP of Finance in Europe and others, making it clear to them that when the next opportunity opened up, I wanted in. I got the assignment and what followed was a marvelously rewarding point in my career.

What I learned from that experience is that telling people what you want is not shameless self-promotion. It can be absolutely essential in many environments. You can’t complain about not getting an opportunity if you don’t do your part to advertise.

How can you better communicate and advertise yourself?

  • Have a passion for learning more about the business outside of your position and department Go on sales calls even if you aren’t directly involved, just to learn how the business works. Work in the factory for a shift to experience that side of the business. If a team is working on a strategic plan, ask them how you can get involved.

  • Tell people what you’re interested in You’re not trying to step on anyone’s toes. Make it clear that they can take the lead. You just want a seat at the table.

  • Keep asking to be involved in different projects Don’t be satisfied with that one-time special assignment. It’s about inserting yourself into many diverse projects with different people. As you do, you have a much greater likelihood of building awareness and then support for yourself internally.

Don’t wait for Performance Reviews alone to share your results. Yes, Performance Reviews are an ideal opportunity to list for your manager what you’ve done that’s significant – and truthfully, I’d say half of people actually take advantage of such a moment. Again, if you’re not making an effort to express what you’ve done in thoughtfully planned detail, how can you expect management to take an interest?

Still, it’s in between Performance Reviews where the magic really happens – and I’m surprised how many people aren’t utilizing that time to take steps like the following:

  • Once a week, keep track of your accomplishments What were the results? Just a few notes may be all you need.

  • Set-up a bi-weekly meeting with your manager Share what you’ve been working on in the last two weeks. Guess what? You’re actually taking control of the flow of communications and showing initiative. I know as a supervisor, having this kind of information can be useful and change your perspective on a person.

  • Ask for feedback on what you’re doing well and what you can improve This also speaks to being on the same page as your manager. You should communicate your ambition but you also have to make sure you’re aligned with your management’s goals too. It goes both ways.

  • Resist the urge to be a know-it-all

  • It’s important to assert yourself and express a point-of-view. But remember if you’re put on a special project, it’s not just about your visibility – it’s about the team’s visibility. You can go from a welcome guest to an irritant fairly quickly if it appears like you only care about your own recognition by answering every question, interrupting others, etc. You may see yourself as a superstar while the rest of your team sees you as a pain in the butt – and nobody is going to go to bat for your goals in that situation.

Managing others? This can work just as well if the situation is reversed.

Don’t merely say, “Well, if they want to communicate anything to me, my door is always open.” You’re going to need to do more than that. If your people don’t take the initiative to come to you to share their accomplishments and goals, seize the opportunity to ask them. Help the flow of communication by taking bi-weekly meetings to understand what they’ve been working on and make them accountable to reaching their own goals.

The Status Quo ends today. Stop waiting for the people around you to “get it” and give you an opportunity – instead, step up, speak up and take it by opening up more channels of communication. And don’t confine yourself to thinking your impact can only be confined to one part of the company either.

As people build clarity on how to take control of their own fate and be happy, it’s just as important to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction as a company rather than competing against each other. Complicated? It can be. But with our Move The Needle planning process at Value Drivers, managers can collectively arrive at a better definition of what success looks like, who will do what and when it will get done. Within 4-5 months, you’ll have a plan for communicating objectives, goals, strategies and measures up, down and across the entire organization. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, contact Value Drivers today at 312.827.2643.

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