Career Success

How to Self Promote Without Being Obnoxious

By EverwiseApril 22, 2015

On the Everwise Answers forum, our community of experienced mentors give advice on the sorts of business cases, dilemmas and questions that our high-potential protégés frequently encounter. These are expert opinions. For more business best practices delivered right to your inbox, sign up here.

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Question: You feel successful at work but unrecognized by your manager. Although you’re happy to work hard, you want to be acknowledged for it. How do you highlight your performance without singing your own praise?

Julio feels like he accomplishes a lot at work, but that his manager doesn’t recognize any of it. He doesn’t mind working hard, but he wants to make sure that he gets credit for his contribution. How can Julio tactfully self-promote so that it doesn’t seem like he is bragging?

Here’s a summary of our mentors’ best advice from the discussion on the Everwise Answers forum.

1. Know Your Boss

It’s important that Julio really know his manager if he’s trying to get noticed by him or her. “Find what his manager’s preferred methods of communication are,” suggests quality assurance expert Vipul Sheth. Julio could be missing opportunities for dialogue because he’s not approaching his manager in the ideal way.

However, perhaps it isn’t just about Julio. Metallurgical expert David Herron believes that Julio “has a manager, not a leader. A manager maintains status quo, leaders cultivate growth and innovation. A ‘leader’ would recognize accomplishments or would sit down with Julio and explain why he cannot commend his work.”  If that is the case, perhaps Julio can look to other managers for additional leadership and support.

2. Align Expectations

Could Julio be working hard at projects that aren’t on anyone’s radar? Confectionary processing specialist Kimberly Harris asks if “it’s possible that the extra work that Julio is doing is not aligned to the goals of the greater group?” His projects could be getting ignored because they don’t directly contribute to the larger team goals.

Although Julio says he’s working hard and accomplishing a lot, information architect Vinish Garg  wonders “if the expectations are higher than what he is already doing.” His manager could be setting an even higher bar than Julio realizes and that’s why he’s not receiving recognition. “If this is the case, then it is time to talk, to go back to goals and agree on some realistic milestones.”

3. Establish Regular Reviews & Feedback

If Julio wants to get acknowledged for his work, then he should get his manager more involved in it. Shannon Pickering Brown, founder of her own coaching company, recommends that Julio “set the feedback stage—each time you work with your manager, let him or her know what you’ve been working on and ask if they note progress. It is good practice to remind them.”

His boss is most likely managing many people, so it’s a good idea for Julio to be proactive and set up regular opportunities for feedback. Plus, meeting with his manger is a great time “to discuss goals of professional growth for his position and his career with the company,” reminds sales consultant Sims Sterna.

Global strategist Michael Ayer also points out that “Julio needs to ask his boss when there are performance reviews, and what is the best way to get promoted while working for him or her.” A performance review is the perfect opportunity for Julio to establish his standing, learn more about what his manager values, and receive vital feedback.

4. Publish Accomplishments

A roundabout way to get recognition is for Julio to showcase his accomplishments on online platforms. After finishing a project Julio can update his LinkedIn, write a personal blog post about it, and even see if it could be published on the company website. This approach could garner the attention of his colleagues, as well as others in his industry.

Social media marketing specialist Miguel A. Gomez Caballero sees this as an opportunity for Julio to catch his manager’s attention. “Julio could go through proving how good he is to his industry peers, thus getting recognition within his industry. It will get the manager’s recognition without aiming at it.”

5. Change Your Perspective

Several mentors felt that the angle of self-promotion too easily lent itself to gloating and offered Julio alternative ways of thinking.

Start-up specialist Juan Carlos Velten suggested using an analogy to help Julio reimagine the situation. “If I invent a new sports drink and people don’t buy, where is the logical place for me to start solving the problem: blaming people for not buying or looking at why my brand is not making people excited?”

Instead, Julio should cultivate practices that serve the same end, but don’t look like self-promotion. Socially conscious consultant Sylvana Rochet suggests that Julio “always have something to talk about or invite people to and to approach team meetings with a mindset of how to solve the problem at hand.”

“A universal truth for all managers is that they want people on their teams that ultimately make their boss’s life easier,” points out sales manager Jake Reni. Therefore, another approach Julio could take is to ask himself “how does my role contribute to making the company more money and how does my role reduce cost for the company? How is my boss being measured in his role and how can I help him meet his goals?”

6. Glamorous vs. Gritty Work

Another angle for Julio to consider is that work can sometimes be a popularity contest. “Do not confuse volume of work as a quality that people can recognize. People have a tendency to recognize ‘glamorous’ accomplishments rather than volume,” counsels technological entrepreneur Ori Neidich. Popular individuals or projects often receive more recognition even if they produce less. Therefore, Julio should seek opportunities for more high profile projects to try to gain recognition.

7. Examine Company Culture

Julio should also consider the bigger picture. If his manger isn’t recognizing any employees than that should be taken up with HR. Or on the other hand, perhaps it’s an issue about the company at large. Is this the right place to support Julio’s career path?

“He needs to evaluate the culture of the company he is working for and determine if his upside is limited there,” recommends financial specialist Ryan Shanks. If Julio doesn’t feel valued at this organization, than it could be time to start looking for recognition elsewhere.

Resources

There is plenty of great guidance available about these sorts of challenges, here are a few suggestions:

The Mentors

Thanks to the Everwise mentors for their ideas, and to all the others who shared their recommendations on the forum.
Vipul Sheth (California) vice president at Medtronic, expert in quality assurance
David Herron (Illinois) consultant at HerronCTC.com, expert in metallurgical engineering and casting design for manufacturability
Kimberly Harris (Ohio) global technology leader at M&M’s, expert in confectionery processing
Vinish Garg (India) partner and director of operations at Vhite Systems, expert in information architecture and technical communication
Shannon Pickering Brown (Texas) Founder of Boss Lady Coach, LLC, expert at helping others move forward in their career
Sims Sterba (Florida) sales consultant and former regional business manager for Roche Diagnostics, expert at balancing sales objectives, budget maintenance and employee development
Michael Ayer (New York) strategic partner of global assignments at Riginair Company, expert in sales, marketing and business management 
Miguel A. Gomez Caballero (Spain) founder of in Social Company, expert in social media marketing and sales
Juan Carlos Velten (California) co-founder of the VocalApp and founding partner of ZealMark, expert in strategic partnerships and start-ups
Sylvana Rochet (New York) founder and consultant at TheInsightfulExecutive.com, expert in developing the holistic intelligence of socially conscious leaders and companies 
Jake Reni (Utah) Enterprise Sales Manager at HireVue, expert in sales management and acceleration.@jakereni
Ori Neidich (New York) interim CTO at FinTecDEPLOY Management Consulting, expert in technological management and entrepreneurship 
Ryan Shanks (Massachusetts) founder and CEO of Finetooth Consulting, expert in financial services 

Everwise

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About the Author

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