It’s 2020 – the year of topsy turvy everything! From politics, job market, stock market, health amid a pandemic, and human decency; to the racism called out from the shadows so we can finally heal it’s toxic man-made wound. And we still need to make a living, teach our children, eat like we want to live, and find a way to sleep! Oh – and be happy and get recognized for the value we bring to the table. This get recognized piece – that seems to be tough in the world of virtual everything.
In 2017 Inc.com published a short piece on 5 things you can do right now to get recognized at work. It was so concise it came across as flippant. After a review, I chose to translate it into more tangible actions that made more sense to the emerging leader who is asking for real action without negative repercussions.
- Raise your hand (claim your work)
- Speak up (claim your work and offer more)
- Advocate for yourself (claim your work – again)
- Know your value (claim where your contributions mattered)
- Celebrate wins (celebrate all wins so that people know you’re paying attention)
I’d like to take what was offered in 2017 and offer these translations for more tactical and strategic actions:
- Raise your hand – offering what you know you do well into service on projects that elevate your visibility and opens you to more opportunities from the exposure of working with more people.
- Speak up – know the difference your efforts have made to the metrics that count on the project or team you work within, and when given the chance for a review or a meeting with leadership, be able to not only speak up for your own metrics but be well aware of the metrics of others – this shows leadership and strategic awareness of how collaboration affect the bottom line.
- Advocate for yourself – share stories that showcase your experience and how you’ve solved problems in the past when they are appropriate to help others see a different perspective or learn from your stories. This allows you to share your successes and what you’ve learned from failures without bragging, while supporting others and letting them into your world as well.
- Know your value – know what sets you apart. Take assessments to capture your strengths and unique qualities and be able to showcase those in action through the stories your share.
- Celebrate wins – my favorite! Yes, showcase that you are aware of how others succeed and celebrate all that is going right – every chance available. In fact, start every meeting with recounting what is going right – before stepping into problem solving. There is brain science in this move that improves creativity when dealing with new problems.
But none of these actions matter if those listening don’t care.
In 2018 Forbes.com published an article about getting recognized at work. This time written by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom, experts on this topic. This article brought forth that often we lose focus on who matters when we do anything to gain recognition.
Are we gaining appreciation from the right audience?
Those people who will cheer us on, motivate us to keep working when it gets tough, or even advocate for us without our asking are the audience we often forget. As a coach of executives and emerging leaders, this is where I have found clients sit back, scratch their head, and have to take a moment to deeply think about who is the right audience for their success. Is it their family? Is it their team or employees? Or is it the board members, peers, or fellow executives?
We all think it’s the boss, supervisor, or client right off the bat. But who is the boss, supervisor, or client really listening to? Our employees, teams, or client’s clients? Who we want to impress may not be impressed by what we think. You need to understand who the right audience is before you start going after recognition at work.
But you’re a leader and need to figure this out for yourself AND your people fast.
As a leader – here are a few ideas that Sturt and Nordstrom share from leading companies:
- Spotlight the recipient of an employee’s work (let the appreciation come from the very person who experienced it first-hand.)
- Provide tools for audiences to show appreciation (offer a multitude of ways to share moments of appreciation, tablets, short surveys, ringing a bell that are recognized by the provider.
- Be selfless (stop thinking that your recognition is all they need, learn to share the appreciation from your employee’s other audiences: family, friends, coworkers, etc.)
- Set the example (walk the talk and celebrate appreciation in any and every form- be an advocate to get that information to the people doing the work.)
I would offer one simpler tactic. This is what I offer executives. Figure out the following for yourself and then- ask your people the same 2 simple questions:
- What do you / they want other people to brag about?
- Who are those other people?