Do you work very hard yet you are continually passed over for promotions? Does your boss treat you like a little girl instead of an equal? Here are seven steps to help you get the recognition you deserve:
Speak Out– Research shows that women are faster thinkers than men. That means that you are likely to have a right solution before any man arrives at it. The problem though is that many of us are so afraid of being wrong that we keep our thoughts to ourselves until it is too late. In fact we are more likely to whisper it to the man sitting next to us only to feel bad when he gets the credit that is rightfully ours.
That does not mean you blab out the first thing that comes to your head in the hope of being right. It simply means that the next time you think you might be on to something; don’t be afraid to speak loud and clear.
Don’t Borrow work– We agree that the work place is all about team work. While this is good and fair, it poses a danger to women who often start out helping colleagues, only to find that they have inherited the project. The funny part is that many women are reluctant, maybe afraid to return the work to the real assignee. Helping from the side line is a skill we women need to pick up-‘eleru gbe eru e’
Being a helper is not the same as being the doer. Truly no one keeps tabs of the late nights you spent doing someone else work! They only care if you are the one presenting the results. Having said that, be careful not to come across as unhelpful. Bear in mind that what you want is an assignment that gives you the chance to shine. Ask others to help you along the way while retaining ownership. The key difference being that no one can forget your achievement when it is done.
Blow Your own Trumpet– There was this song we used to sing in Sunday school when I was a child. It started with our teacher (Aunty Geraldine) telling us “everybody blow your trumpet” to which we all promptly responded by singing (as loud as we could) “…pa…ra…ra…ra… ra.. ra..ra….”
Now as adults, it appears that men had a secret lesson with Aunty Geraldine where they not only learned to blow their trumpets but to do it without remorse. A man will even tell you how he won a golf game over the weekend, what award his child got recently or how he/she learned to count backwards from hundred. The problem is that while a man takes pride in telling everyone about his accomplishments, most ladies stand locked lips in bashfulness! Where we picked that trait, I don’t know. What I know, is that this difference in attitudes makes it look like men are doing so much more and better than women.
As a woman who wants to get ahead, it is necessary. No, it is imperative that you are able to talk about what you are doing and how you are succeeding at work! Pause…you must be able to do it without sounding boastful.
Keep your Boss in the Loop-A good way to let your boss know and remember what you are doing is to have frequent meetings. It does not have to be a ‘big do’. A few minutes spent chatting about what you are working on each week should suffice.
Does he not know? You ask.
He probably does. Then again, he might not. Unless he is a micro manager, there is no way your boss can know everything you do each day, what obstacles you face or when you are likely to complete a task.
In addition, it gives you the opportunity to blow your trumpet some more (in a milder way) of course! If for no other reason, you appear more confident if you don’t wait to be asked.
Accept Praise– Not long ago, I attended a business networking cum social with a friend. On arrival, we hooked up with a group of his former colleagues (4 men and 1 lady) whom he swiftly introduced me to. Soon we were talking about Excel programming, VBA and other necessary evils (sure things for analysts to gush about). But that is not the main gist.
The main gist is that apparently the lady-kemi was the best VBA user in the group after she wowed her colleagues on a huge project they finished a few weeks back. What amazed and annoyed me (which I couldn’t show) was how kemi refuted the praise by saying “I really didn’t do anything big”
I was gobsmacked! Why would anyone work so hard, and then refuse the praise? That is not humility or modesty! It is pure foolishness because if you refute praise by running down your achievement, how will anyone believe that you are capable of handling bigger things? How will they know that you spent many nights figuring out the answers? That you deserve a huge bonus? That you should be promoted?
The ability to trigger then accept praise is what puts men like Richard Branson in the news: definitely a skill worth learning.
One-to-One– If you are trying to change things for the better yet your boss seems insusceptible to your strategic approach, then may be it is time for a one-to-one meeting with him or her. This is definitely more serious than your weekly chats. This time you will need to book (formerly) a meeting so that you can discuss in private.
In the meantime, you need to practise your speech-in front of the mirror. Nothing can ruin this meeting faster than you getting emotional and crying! (Especially if your boss is a man) You don’t want to appear like a little girl before him.
You need to explain as calmly as possible how and why you feel undervalued. Buttress your point with relevant examples but as much as you can, do not play the victim card! All that matters here is you drawing your boss’s attention to a problem.
Exit Plan-So you have had a ‘grown up’ conversation with your boss about how you feel. You wait a few weeks, at least till something new happens. For example, a big advertising account you bagged. Still you get no thanks or your boss steals your thunder by claiming he did the hard part by assigning you in the first place.
This is not the time to ponder or wonder….it is time to make an exit plan. Fast!
There is no need to be sad or angry (hard as it sounds) it will cloud your judgment. Keep doing your job while you think (and pray) about what you need to do. Gradually reduce the amount of work you take home so that you have time to polish your CV, research, hook up with contacts.
Take as long as you need; you don’t want to jump from frying pan to fire. Hopefully you will get a better position soon.
However, no matter how bad the situation gets during your search, do not throw caution to the wind. Do not get sloppy at work. Do not use your office computer or telephone for your job search. Do not breathe a word of your intent to your colleagues (except close friends) and when the time comes to leave, please do not look back.
Statistics shows that 80% of employees are dissatisfied or think they are undervalued at work. Despite that, 69% of them stay on with their current employer.
Photo Credit: theheartlinknetwork.com
Kome Olori Agulonu is a writer and business analyst. She is also the CEO of Chunky Jewels, a brand of unique, handmade, African inspired costume jewellery sold in the United Kingdom. You can follow her on twitter @komeolori or email her at [email protected]