Succeed at Work: Make Sure Your Star Shines
If you want to succeed at work and get ahead, you’ve got to do more than just work hard and do an excellent job. Being promoted, being considered for interesting projects, and getting those merit raises and bonuses, means making sure that your star shines.
In other words, your bosses (and often coworkers, too) have to know that you’re doing a good job, and that you’re interested in bigger and better things. For example, I’ve always been a hard worker — willing to pitch in, come up with new ideas, help others, work outside my comfort zone, etc. “That’s not my job” has never crossed my lips.
But I used to come in to work, go straight to my desk, work hard, and go home. Some people, of course, did know that I was doing an excellent good job. But not enough of them; and not enough of those people knew what I really wanted to be doing.
Don’t be modest
This article about ways women unintentionally stunt their careers points out one thing that used to be one of my core beliefs:
“Women believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves, and they spend less effort ensuring they get the gold star next to their name. While modesty is a nice character trait, it’s naive to believe that your boss, your clients, or your colleagues will recognize your accomplishments if you fly under the radar.”
The might indeed know what you do, but they won’t remember it at key moments. That’s because if you fly under the radar, by definition you won’t be noticed.
To succeed at work, polish your star
Of course, you do have to do an excellent job to get ahead. But if you really want to succeed at work, you’ve also got to polish your star.
If you feel uncomfortable at the notion of bragging, remember that it’s not necessarily bragging to keep the higher ups informed of what you’re doing. It can be helpful to them as well. Remember that your boss usually has a boss too — and when their reports look good, they look good.
So when you do something great, let them know. It doesn’t have to be a big production. It can be a quick email that says “Hey ABC is up 40% since I implemented XYZ — thought you should know.” Keep a list of your accomplishments each week for yourself too, and then highlight the most important ones during your reviews or regular meetings. We’re all so busy that it’s easy to forget stuff otherwise, but if you write them down and bring them up, it’ll help you to succeed.
Advocate for yourself
If you want to be promoted, get a raise, or to transition into a different job, let them know that too. People have a tendency to assume that everything’s fine unless someone says otherwise. They aren’t mind readers, and most folks are naturally more focused on what’s going on in their own jobs than what others might be doing.
So help them (and yourself) out by asking for what you want.
Don’t just mention something once and then go quietly back to your corner either. You’ve got to advocate for yourself. If you want something, persist. Try multiple people. Volunteer. Help others out. Work hard. And keep bringing up what you want and what you’re doing in different ways.
It’s good to point out the accomplishments of others too. That makes everyone feel good, and helps others realize that you’re not out to take credit that isn’t your due. But you should take credit where it is due, and before you know it others will likely be singing your praises too.