As Dale Carnegie said, “People work for money but the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” For many leaders, recognition in the workplace is a reward in itself. They want their good performance celebrated, and recognition by management and peers of their contribution to the organization is a source of validation and fulfillment.
You might want that kind of recognition for yourself. Many of us do. But we don’t always get it.
In fact, many of us feel just the opposite. Unappreciated. Undervalued. Overlooked.
You can actually influence this yourself, however. Instead of waiting for others to recognize you or hoping they do, you can build recognition with some effort of your own. Try these strategies:
To reiterate the importance of performance, the quickest way to get noticed is to get something accomplished that no one else has been able to do. But there’s an additional piece to performance that ensures you actually get your good work recognized – you have to point it out.
One strategy you can use to do this is called “signposting.” You tell people exactly what you did so they can recognize it. It might sound something like this: “As you know, I’ve been working on increasing revenue. I’m pleased to announce in the last quarter I raised our revenue by eight percent.” Or: “You’ll see our team has succeeded in bring in several new clients. I’m proud of their efforts. I’ve made it a priority to focus their attention and make sure they had the resources to get there, and they did.”
Signposting doesn’t mean you brag about yourself and take all the credit. In a team effort, you may very well acknowledge that the team gets the credit and that they made the difference. But you can also make it clear as to who enabled that to happen.
Capture the Brilliance and the Buzz
Secondly, when taking credit or looking to get noticed, it’s important to make sure you got the message right. You have to take responsibility for expressing what you want, and you need to be qualified when you do so.
Some people do this badly. They may take credit they don’t deserve, or make their results look better than they are. You have to have the substance to back up your claims. Does that mean a little bit of buzz doesn’t matter? Not necessarily. If people don’t know you very well, they may respond to your enthusiasm and the impression you make. The excitement you create around your ideas can draw attention to your ideas. On the other hand, if you have a brilliant mind and game-changing ideas but convey the message awkwardly, people may get distracted and overlook the substance.
In other words, neither is enough. The goal is to have substance, presented well—the brilliance and the buzz. Some people have exceptional performance that goes unnoticed. Some people get all the attention but don’t deliver. You need both.
Know Where the Bar Is
Finally, in order to gain recognition from others, you need to know what they’re looking for and what will count as success. For example, it’s not just what matters to you that gets you noticed. It’s what matters to the person you want to do the noticing.
If you want to impress your bosses, are they impressed by numbers, or do they focus more on stories that wow and inspire?
If you want recognition from your team members, do they value autonomy more, or direction?
Being able to discern what others value gives us the opportunity to align to their needs, which they are likely to appreciate and recognize.
So we ask ourselves, how do we find out what matters to these people? Begin with being perceptive—notice what people respond to and what they seem to value. Then, put yourself in their shoes. Understand what their concerns and goals are, along with what drives them. Finally, you can ask the person directly what’s most important to them. You can view this as a high sign of respect.
By taking these steps, you’ll make an impression on the people you want to notice you – developing your relationship with them while understanding more about how you can stand out in their minds.
Find more strategies for gaining recognition and creating win-wins for your organization and yourself in Joelle’s book with Howard Morgan, The New Advantage.