When I took over as the General Manager for the European division of my company many years back in my career, I was so fired up! On Day 1, my manager said to me, “I want you to take the business into the 30% club by the end of next year.” He wanted me to increase profit margins to 30%. I imprinted that number on my brain. Over the next few weeks I dove right in to understand the business and planned out my actions. And then I gave it everything I had.
In 3 months, we were already there. We closed the quarter at 34% profit margin! I was elated. All my efforts had paid off. I waited smugly for my manager to call me and praise me. (He was located in a different office).
He did call a couple of weeks later. But when I saw that he didn’t mention anything about my results, I hesitantly asked, “Did you see the results for last quarter?”
“Well, not yours specifically. Why?” His tone sounded like he was bracing himself for bad news.
I didn’t want to sound like a show-off. I said softly, “We closed at 34%.”
There was silence for a couple of seconds. And then my boss said, “Oh! Looks like you got lucky. Maybe it was some of the actions your predecessor took that showed their impact this quarter.” And then after a few customary exchanges, we ended the conversation.
I was livid.
Luck?! My predecessor’s actions?! My boss had pushed my predecessor unsuccessfully for two years to deliver 30%. I over-delivered in just 3 months, only to hear this?! Plus, he didn’t even know I delivered such good results till I brought them up!
I vented to my partner. Out of curiosity, he asked me what actions I had taken. I was thrilled to talk about them. “We sold up some high-value services to clients that brought in better margins. We decreased costs by rationalizing our asset fleet…”
When I was done, my partner asked, “Does your boss know you did all this?”
Indeed, I hadn’t spoken a word about any of this to my boss. I was, in fact, excited about doing all of this quietly. And then, bam, with a bang I wanted to impress my boss with my solid results.
That’s the day I learned two lessons on self-promotion.
- Talk about your achievements: It’s not bragging. It’s about keeping people updated on your plans, actions and results. If you don’t tell them what you achieved, they won’t know about it. If they don’t know, they can’t give you credit for it.
- Take your superiors along on your plans. It’s not just about the results. People need to know how you achieved those results. Otherwise, in an effort to make sense of the results, they’ll credit external factors like luck.
Talk about your achievements
If you feel your boss doesn’t give you the credit you deserve, it could be because he doesn’t know enough about your awesome work.
As women, we feel embarrassed talking about our achievements. And we expect that because most information is digital and easily accessible, our bosses will anyway discover our solid results. “The results will speak for themselves.”
But here’s the thing. Your boss likely has a zillion things on his plate. If you underdeliver, he’ll likely notice. But if you’re doing fine, you won’t catch his attention.
It doesn’t make him a bad manager. He’s just managing his limited time.
So if you’re delivering good results, tell your manager about it. If you don’t, he won’t know about it. And if he won’t know, he can’t give you credit for it.
Take your superiors along on your plans
Have you had a colleague who delivered poor results but still kept getting praised for it? Did you blame it on office politics and behind the scenes networking?
Well, yes, some of it may just be the politics. But here’s the thing: When it comes to assessing performance, it’s not always about the results. It’s about the process. It’s about communication. It’s about keeping everyone in the loop on your plans.
Because if people don’t know how you achieved good results, their brains will rationalize it by crediting external factors like luck.
If you work away quietly hoping to surprise and impress everyone with your solid results, they won’t know anything about your efforts – all your thinking, planning and executing.
But if you proactively take people along with you and keep them updated, when they see the results, they’ll know how you were responsible for those great results.
If you still feel odd talking about your work, here are some things that can help.
- When you talk about your accomplishments, recognize that they’re also your manager’s accomplishments. He led his team, including you, to deliver these results. Giving him credit makes it less awkward for you. In my case, I could have said, “You gave me a clear direction to go after the 30% club, and that helped me plan my actions. Here is the result of that: 34% profit margin!”
- Talk about the process leading up to the result. “This quarter we did X and Y. They paid off and helped us achieve Z.”
- Talk about it as your team’s accomplishments. “Andy decreased structure costs by… Sarah increased revenue by…” This way you’ll motivate your team, and get the credit for managing your team well. Caveat: Be sure to credit more than one member so it reflects on your leadership.
If it’s new to you, it won’t come naturally. Make a start. Take small steps and practice doing it. Practice is one of Rekindle’s fundamental principles. Try talking about your achievements with a friend, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. It’s ok if you mess up. It’s still a great start! The more you practice talking about yourself and your amazing work, the better you’ll get at it.
We’ve seen hundreds of women make great progress and learn to give themselves the credit they deserve.
Give yourself the credit you deserve. Let the world see how awesome you are!
Wish you the very best!
If you like this article, subscribe to our newsletter below to receive useful tips for working women.