By Bob McIntosh
A woman I work with whispered to me that one of her customers wrote her an email complimenting her on a job well done. I congratulated her on her accomplishment and told her to forward the email to our boss.
“No way,” my colleague said. “I don’t need to show her what I’ve done. She knows.”
I argued my case for a brief moment and then realized that convincing my colleague to promote herself was a lost cause. She’s just not that kind of person. She would rather have people see her great work—she does great work—than point it out to them. She doesn’t like to “brag,” in her words.
If you’re like my colleague and don’t feel it’s necessary to promote yourself, consider the following points.
The philosophical question
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” comes to mind in the instance of my colleague. I reason if your boss isn’t around to hear or read of your accomplishments, she won’t hear it; there will be no sound. All the good work you’ve done may go unnoticed and unrewarded.
Bring your boss into the forest so she can hear the tree fall. You don’t need to burst into her room exclaiming, “My customer loved the work I did implementing our CRM software. He couldn’t stop praising me. I’ll need the rest of the day off to celebrate.”
It’s okay to promote yourself in a tactful way
The wrong way to self-promote would be to announce during a meeting that your customer said you’re the best thing since sliced bread. This will cause your colleagues to turn to each other and mouth, “What a braggart.”
The correct way would be catching your boss alone and making her aware of the flattering email you received, without going into detail ad nauseam. If you are more introverted, forwarding the email to your boss would be fine. (It also creates a paper trail for future recall.)
If you don’t promote yourself no one will
Do you think your colleagues who are eyeing a promotion that is suitable for both of you is going to promote your greatness instead of his? Hell no. Additionally, he might make it clear that he is the best person for the job by touting his accomplishments any time he can (even when it’s not warranted).
You are the captain of your ship, so don’t let anyone else steer it. By no means am I saying to look for opportunities to self-promote. No, promote yourself when the time warrants it.
Your chances of advancing at work will be greater if you promote yourself
My colleague believes her results speak louder than words, and this may be true; but the spoken word can better reinforce her results than if she were to say nothing…or not send an email.
Advancement comes to those whose performance are recognized. When it comes to performance reviews or approaching your boss for a raise or promotion, she will most likely remember the times you told her about your accomplishments. In fact, she might have written them down.
You will feel good
Especially if you receive positive feedback from your superior. I know this because when I promote myself, via email mostly, I receive an email from her congratulating me for my success. I could care less if she is annoyed by my self-promotion.
If my boss tells me to stop, I’ll cease promoting myself. But I’ve never been told to stop sending her emails or telling her about my success, nor do I expect her to cease my self-promotion. If or when I do, I’ll simply tell her, “I’m practicing what I preach.”
You may feel the same way my colleague does about self-promotion. But ask yourself this: “Will I kick myself for not at least forwarding an email to my boss? Is it possible that she would appreciate knowing about my accomplishment?”
If the answer to these questions is yes, promote yourself in a way you’re comfortable with.
Flickr: Phoenix Tso