Don't Let Them Underestimate You

Here are seven strategies for making your accomplishments visible at work.

Michael Wade

One of the saddest sights in a workplace is the highly skilled person whose accomplishments are discounted or ignored because he or she made the job look easy.

This happens more often than you would imagine. The person tackles responsibilities that would sink a lesser talent, creates a systematic way to address the routine challenges, develops a strong team, and drags order out of chaos. Things begin to hum along.

They hum so well that outsiders conclude the original situation must not have been too bad.

What can you do to prevent this?

Here are seven strategies:

1. Every week or two, give your immediate supervisor a written Significant Action Report describing the status of important projects. This will be not only informative, but will smoke out your supervisor’s opinions on what should be regarded as significant. Don’t ramble. The report should be no longer than two pages.

2. Don’t whine, but let your supervisor know about various obstacles that are being confronted and overcome. Convey a sense of the process behind the achievements.

3. Do your homework on innovative practices used in other organizations. Let your supervisor know that your actions are on a par – or soon will be – with the best in your profession. You aren’t just measuring performance against internal records.

4. Take time to recognize and appreciate achievements, but beware of comfort. Too many once-solid performers dine out on what they did years ago.

5. Cultivate positive relationships with the public information people in your organization. Avoid the “I did it” and stress the “We did it.”

6. Be especially careful to avoid taking undue or premature credit. A blunder in either direction can undo a lot of hard work.

7. Adopt a simple mantra: “We are proud of what we’ve done, but we know there is room for improvement.”

When you do these, you’re not being egotistical, you’re being honest.

Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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