Heads-down workers are the last ones considered for new opportunities. You might be the best at your role, but unless you practice self advocacy (constantly, not just in your annual performance review), chances are that you will be overlooked.
It’s tough news, but it’s the truth. If you’re looking ahead to that next promotion, or wondering why you’re not getting the projects you actually want, it’s time for you to raise your visibility by self-advocating to your manager. One of the easiest (and most important) ways to do this is by making your accomplishments more visible to her.
Here are three easy steps you can take this week towards clearly defining your value and advancing your career.
1. Track Your Accomplishments
Nobody remembers what you did last week. You can admit this because we’re betting even you can’t remember. We’re all busy, and often the little “wins” slip by as the team shifts gears for the next project.
The problem is, all of the wins that you’re responsible for… those are what define your potential for greater (more appealing) opportunities.
It’s not enough to stand behind the company numbers and use them as justification for your personal contribution, especially if you are part of a large team. You need to clarify the assets you bring to the table and connect them directly to the success of the business, ideally in quantifiable terms.
Step one to self advocacy: acknowledging the self part. It’s your responsibility to make the case for your unique contribution to your org. To do that, you need to raise your visibility by keeping track of what that is.
Throughout the week, keep a log of your accomplishments. Be careful to weed out what is simply part of your job description, and focus on the things that you can credit to your personal brand.
You closed a deal with a new affiliate partner. Congrats!
…But, is that just part of your job as a Partner Relationship Manager? Is closing deals with affiliates expected of you?
Instead of adding “closed deal with X” to your accomplishment tracker, think about how or why you were successful.
Maybe you used your passion for graphic design to make a dynamic presentation that went above and beyond what they expected from your org. Or, perhaps you’re a strong negotiator, and leveraged the research you did on the client to appeal to their personal interests. Maybe you made a connection with the decision maker on their team because you caught them in the elevator and won them over.
It’s the nuances of your deliverables that will make you stand out and improve your manager relationship, provided that you can succinctly articulate them and their importance.
How does your success contribute to making money or saving money for the company? By learning to frame your accomplishments through the lens of business impact, and by writing them down on a regular basis, you will build a clear and undeniable picture of the value you bring to your org.
But, this is only useful if your manager gets a copy…
2. Send Your Accomplishments to Your Manager
This part may give you some pause, but we assure you…sending your accomplishments to your manager is totally normal.
We repeat: it is more than ok to send a quick recap email of your successes from the month. In fact, this is a vital tool for self advocacy and one of the easiest ways you can raise your visibility.
It doesn’t have to be anything formal, and if you stay on top of your accomplishment tracker throughout the week, recapping them at the end of each month should only take a minute or two. This is just basic career advancement 101.
Put together a few bullet points (reminder: of your accomplishments, not just the tasks you checked off) and press send.
You’ll stay present in your manager’s mind as someone who is consistently adding value to the team, and when it comes time for your performance review, she will already have a hard-copy log to reference in your favor.
You’re not bragging. You’re making her life easier by raising your visibility.
We can’t stress this enough. Your manager wants to know how everyone on the team is contributing, but she is busy. Things slip by. We’re all human. You’re just helping her understand your personal brand—where you’re thriving, and what you gravitate toward—so she can make promotion and project decisions thoughtfully, and in the best interest of the org.
And you can make her life even easier by jumping on her calendar…
3. Schedule a Career Discussion
Performance reviews only come once or twice per year, and in the time in between, you’ve likely racked up far more than an hour’s worth of career insights to discuss with your manager.
In addition to sending her your accomplishments each week, schedule 20 minute career discussions each quarter to maximize your visibility. You don’t necessarily need a clear agenda for these meetings: just have an honest conversation about your goals, your future, and the type of work that’s been giving you energy lately.
If you’ve been doing your homework, she already knows about your #BigWins, so there’s no pressure to defend your value. This is an opportunity to tell her about your passions, why you like certain work, why you dislike other work…
Self advocacy is a lot more than preaching about your skills and potential; it’s showing your manager that you’re engaged at work and thinking seriously about your career advancement.
We promise: she will appreciate getting to know you and hearing your goals, especially if you can schedule the discussion far in advance. Find some time on her calendar for a no-stress check-in, and be sure to leave time to ask for feedback. Effective self advocacy is consistent, yes, but also mindful of your perception by others.
Remember: while raising your visibility is important, so is making sure you’re actually being viewed in a way that will advance your career.
Now, return to step one.
Self-advocacy is a constant hustle. But if you’re organized about it, it doesn’t have to feel that way. Make a quick note every time you do something awesome, make sure your manager knows about it, and set aside an hour per quarter to check in. It’s that simple.
By just staying on top of these three things, you’ll drastically raise your visibility at work and build a valuable relationship with your manager.
After all, if you’re not advocating for yourself or actively convincing your manager to do so, then who else is going to advance your career?