What do I have to do to be seen?

Have you ever felt as if your efforts and contributions at work were somehow unseen and undervalued?

Martha had one of those experiences. She walked into work one day and found out her coworker, Susan, had been promoted. Susan worked at the same level in the organization as Martha, and she reported to the same boss as Martha. Martha ran into the office of her closest friend at work and began to rant. “How is Susan, of all people, getting a promotion, and I’m not? I work harder. I’m better than Susan. I’m smarter than Susan. Do you think it’s political? It’s not fair!” Martha felt frustrated and angry. From her perspective, it seemed that her contributions had gone unnoticed and that she was being undervalued. Martha was smart. And she was great at her job. But Martha made several classic mistakes, mistakes that I see many people make, when it came to managing her career.

I, too, have had an experience very similar to Martha’s. And I learned 3 valuable lessons from that experience which I want to share with you here. My hope is that you can learn from our mistakes, and take control of your career in a new way.

Mistake #1: Assume that your boss knows what you have accomplished and what work you have done.

The truth is, as long as you are doing your job effectively, your boss will most likely remain unaware of what you do. Her focus is on the problems and crises she needs to solve today, not on you. If you are not creating problems or crises, she likely won’t be aware of your work.

It is up to you to make sure your boss knows your contributions and accomplishments. It is up to you to keep a written record of your work and results, and to share that information with her at regular intervals (not just at performance review time, but throughout the year).

Mistake #2: Assume you will be rewarded organically for your work. I had been taught and believed that if I worked hard, rewards (such as pay increases and promotions) would be bestowed upon me through the natural course of time.

In Martha’s situation (and mine), her boss didn’t know she even wanted to be promoted. Her boss didn’t know her career goals. Martha needed to meet with her boss and initiate the conversation. Martha and I both learned to talk with our bosses about what we wanted from our career, and what we expected (or hoped for) in return. That means we asked for promotions, salary increases, and bonuses.

Mistake #3: Assume promotions are just given as soon as you earn them. What Martha didn’t know (because she never asked) was there was a list of concrete, measurable criteria she needed to meet in order to be considered for promotion into the job she wanted.

Once she started the conversation with her boss about her desire to be promoted, she also asked how to do it. Her boss then worked side by side with Martha, mapping out a plan to meet the objectives and attain the promotion.

Now Martha had a plan to follow. She began to track her accomplishments, especially the ones she needed to attain the promotion. She also started to meet regularly with her boss to review her progress and get support.


How about you? Are making the mistakes Martha and I have made? What is one step can you take today, right now, to take back control of your career, and get your achievements seen?


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