I recently worked with the employee of a client, and I noticed that this employee did a fantastic job of working with a customer. Consultants are known for identifying areas that need improvement, so I always highlight when I notice that my clients and their employees get it right. I sent the employee a quick message that her approach and subsequent outcome was amazing, and she should emulate that same approach with another customer in the future. She responded, “Thanks! Be sure to tell my boss!” Followed very quickly by, “J/K! Ha, ha, ha.”
J/K; just kidding. Her response to highlight the quality of her work to her boss is not uncommon, and neither is her insecurity over her desire for management to hear she does her job well. Studies indicate that as many as 85% of employees don’t feel valued. This is not surprising, as management is busy. Considering the litany of things managers have to get through on any given day, stopping to notice the quality of your daily performance probably isn’t one of them. Yet, management wants to know you are the star-performer they assessed when they made the decision to hire you; it’s their affirmation that they make decisions that add value, and it gives them the opportunity to praise or reward you. So don’t just sit there; tell management you’re awesome. Here are three tips for communicating your value to your supervisor without becoming the office narcissist:
1. Know how your supervisor likes to communicate. Is she an e-mail person? Does she prefer in person meetings? Should you create a PowerPoint presentation, or does her heart skip a beat when she sees a spreadsheet? Communicating your value in a way that your supervisor responds to is key in getting your message through successfully.
2. Share your accomplishments outside of your evaluation. Many employees will wait until their evaluation to try to discuss their performance with a supervisor. This is often too late in the process, as many supervisors will have already filled out an evaluation of your performance prior to meeting with you. Instead, share your accomplishments from the time your evaluation is completed, until you next one begins.
3. Small endeavors equal big outcomes. It’s easy to focus on the end product, but there are a lot of things that need to go right before there’s a positive end result. Everything you do prior to the outcome has an effect, and most of what you do is positive. Make sure your boss remembers that. Forward her e-mail chains where clients praise your work under the ruse “another happy client!”; ask for a 5 minute “update meeting” to give her the latest on where a project stands, and share two or three key problems you’ve navigated along the way; or leave the latest draft of that big presentation on her chair with tabs, flags, and notes throughout highlighting your decisions, like “changed this due to X”, or “adjusted these numbers to match Y.”
There’s a big difference between bragging and raising awareness. Establishing a regular pattern of communicating your accomplishments to management will leave you, and your supervisor, feeling great about your performance and your future.