If your work achievements are overlooked, here’s what to do.
We all need to feel valued. Getting your salary every month satisfies your external needs but what about your intrinsic needs, those that come from enjoying your work and knowing your efforts are appreciated?
They’re just as important because they tap directly into your self-esteem.
Are you expecting too much?
First, let’s get some perspective. If you’re very needy and want reassurance that every little thing you do is wonderful and without you the company would fall off the cliff, you’re not going to find the answer here.
However, Anna Brockway, the chief marketing officer and co-founder of Chairish, the online décor marketplace, says that every Monday at 2.00pm, she writes a personal thank you note to one of her team members. As she says, “I believe people feel most valued by recognition. Money, promotions and more are really nice but personal validation is the most meaningful.”
Let’s assume the recognition you’re looking for is in line with Anna’s philosophy – a note now and again giving you a pat on the back for a job well done – what then?
Next question: Are you as good as you should be?
This is very important. If you’re one of twenty people working in a telesales department and your performance is not way in front of your nineteen colleagues, you won’t get noticed. First, excel at what you do. Aim to get into the top three or at least the top five performers.
That way, you’ll identify yourself as a key player in the department and any manager worth the title will do everything they can to keep you happy, motivated and productive.
This is a question employees at every level should be asking themselves. Leadership consultant Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success Inc, a management consultancy, says the most common reason he sees leaders get frustrated by lack of recognition is that they’re simply not as competent at leadership as their self-image leads them to believe.
If you believe you’re really worthy of recognition, read on.
What you can do about your work achievements
In essence, the answer is you’re going to do a little blowing of your own trumpet. Quietly and diplomatically, of course.
Prepare some brief notes on your recent accomplishments, say over the last three months. Examine the quality of your performance from all sides: how well you understood the task, whether you completed it on time and on budget, and if the actions you took or the recommendations you made were appropriate.
If in doubt, ask a colleague you can trust. The simple act of sharing your successes with a workmate or two is likely to get a buzz going. If you work for a small organization or department, your boss may tune in to this positive chatter and that makes the next step easier.
Now a little tune on your trumpet for the manager’s ears
Having gathered your notes and checked with a colleague or two that your work. achievements are worthy, ask for a ten-minute meeting with the boss.
If it’s a man, it’s likely his emotional intelligence is not highly developed so don’t expect too much. Annie McKee, in her book How to be Happy at Work, says the average boss doesn’t pay attention to human needs and you’re not going to change that.
But you’re not going to ask for recognition, you’re going to ask for advice. That automatically puts the manager at ease: you haven’t come to complain, to resign or to otherwise ruin their day, you simply want the benefit of their wisdom. Perfect.
Now run through your notes briefly. Say something like, “I know you’re busy and can’t be expected to keep track of everything we do, but I wanted to check in with you about my recent work.”
Skim through your notes, allowing just enough time for your accomplishments to sink in, then say: “So that’s what I’ve been up to in the last three months and I’d like to know if generally you’ve been satisfied with my performance. Tell me if I should be doing anything differently or if perhaps I could benefit from some extra training.”
At this point, your boss will probably realize they’ve been a bit lacking in their employee motivation duties and will give you positive feedback, providing your case was a strong one and professionally presented.
A reasonably smart leader will make a mental note to get around the workplace a little more often and dish out some encouragement to their hard-working employees.
Finally, a crescendo of beautiful music
If your boss is as enthusiastic as you are about the work you’ve been doing, now is the time for a final flourish on that trumpet of yours.
Say this: “I’m really pleased to hear that you think I’m doing a good job. Your opinion matters a lot to me. Please remember that, if anyone in the department needs any help, I’m always happy to step in.”
Leave now and let the manager bask in the most wonderful trumpet symphony they’ve heard for years.