Monday, December 22, 2008

Get the Recognition you Deserve

Imagine this: You stay late at work, consistently win accounts that your co-workers only dream of, never miss deadlines, and never show up late – and to top it all off, you finish even your worst projects successfully and ahead of schedule.
You'd think that by doing all of this, you would, at least once in a while, get thanks and recognition from management? Well… you wish. Unfortunately, your boss is busy dealing with a "problem" member of the team, and as a result, she forgets to show any gratitude to her stars. That includes you.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? Working hard and getting ignored by your boss can be rough. That's why you sometimes have to take matters into your own hands.
Boasting of your own accomplishments can feel awkward. But look at it this way: If your boss doesn't notice your hard work, and you don't point it out to him or her, then what happens when you ask for a raise? How will he or she know you're ready for that promotion, or if you can handle that huge-but-fascinating project?
Things don't have to be like that. We'll show you how to get the recognition you deserve without looking like you're seeking attention. Believe it or not, there is a way to do this.
There are many types of recognition, so decide what type you want.
Step One: Decide What You Want
Companies often thank staff with awards, certificates, or bonuses. However, people often just want simple praise. We want to know that our work is meaningful and that we've made a difference. An "Employee of the Month" certificate, or a cold, hard check doesn't always communicate that.
So, what exactly are you looking for? It's important to really define this, because everyone wants something different. Do you want a simple "thank you"? An award ceremony in your honor? A raise?
Step Two: Define Why You Deserve Praise
Don't walk into your boss's office with no advance preparation to say what a great job you've been doing. Why? Firstly, it would seem odd. Then, if you're a bit nervous, you might forget something important that you've done. You might forget the help a co-worker gave you, and leaving out that person could speak poorly of your character. Be sure to make yourself look good, but also share credit where credit is due.
Make a list of the accomplishments you'd like to discuss. Beside each one, list the value that accomplishment has brought to the company.
Step Three: Praise Yourself
This is where you've got to get creative. You know your boss and your business environment, so think of ways to let your boss know how hard you've been working.
If you tell your boss directly, then do it carefully and tactfully – in a private area. You know that list of accomplishments you just created? Read that over a few times before your meeting. As you talk, emphasize how you had help and how your co-workers should be rewarded for their hard work as well.
If this feels a little too much like bragging, then think of ways to let your boss know what you're doing without being so obvious or bold. For example, send your boss an email every time you win a new account, or when you're finally able to please your company's worst customer. These little "progress reports" keep your actions in the open in a delicate, not-too-obvious way.
You can also praise others in front of your boss. By bringing their hard work and accomplishments to your boss's attention, she may also notice the great job that you've been doing. Keep it genuine and honest, however. If you appear insincere, then people may notice, and you may look bad. If you have something good to say, then say it, but don't speak up if you don't really mean it.

A Few Tips
•Look closely at your boss's actions – he or she may be praising you, and you don't even realize it. For example, let's say you spent hours writing the annual message to shareholders, and your boss only quickly glanced at it before passing it on to be copied. Before you get upset, consider that her actions may really say that she trusts you to do top-notch work, and she doesn't have read every line to know you've done a great job. Yes, a "thank you" for a job well done is nice, but this kind of trust is also a compliment.
• In your work environment, perhaps all the problem behaviors get noticed, and all the really great ones seem to be ignored. If so, then you may have to do something bold to get management's attention. Tell your boss honestly how members of the team need some recognition. Keep the focus off yourself, and help your boss understand how everyone would be more motivated if they just got a little praise now and then.
Key Points
Although not everyone is comfortable talking about their accomplishments, you might harm yourself if you don't speak up.
If your boss doesn't see the great work you've been doing, he or she might give that promotion or special project to someone else without knowing any better. It's up to you to prove that you can handle the added responsibility – and to do that, your boss has to know what you've already done.
Think of subtle ways to get your boss's attention by talking privately, sending emails about small accomplishments, and praising your teammates when he or she is around to hear it. Even if you keep the focus off yourself, it may get him or her to notice what you've been doing as well.

Apply This to Your Life:
Ready to put this into action? Here are some easy ways to use this tool in your life right now:
Begin by recognizing the accomplishments of others. If you notice co-workers doing something great, send them emails praising their efforts, and send copies to your boss. This can show your boss that you're leading by example..
Don't forget that your boss might need some praise and recognition too. Send him or her an email when she's made a difference in your day, and consider copying that email to his or her boss.
If you're a team leader, keep your eyes open for activities and co-workers that deserve praise. Whenever someone does something that's earned a heartfelt "thanks," send that person an email and copy it to your boss.
These are just a few ways you can "raise the bar" in your workplace to get other people thinking about praise and recognition. When you recognize the efforts of your team, you should steadily earn your own praise as well.

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