Have you ever pitched a great idea, gave a flawless presentation, or helped a coworker execute a difficult project — and received no praise or recognition for your efforts?
“This happens more often than anyone would like,” says Cord Himelstein, vice president of marketing for employee recognition firm Michael C. Fina. “There can be several reasons for it, such as overextended managers or a lack of a formal company-wide recognition strategy.”
But if you truly feel like you are being swept under the rug, and that recognition isn’t valued by your organisation, then an honest conversation with your manager may be in order.
The problem is, it’s very easy to come off as obnoxious or annoying when making a direct plea for recognition you think you deserve, Himelstein says. “That’s because recognition is most effective if it’s sincere; if you have to put all that work into getting someone to notice you, it kind of spoils the whole process, and it can be easily interpreted as whining, especially in an organisation where recognition isn’t valued. The least obnoxious thing you can do is to follow the Gandhi route and be the change you wish to see.”
Here are five ways to get the recognition you deserve without seeming like a braggart and annoying coworkers:
Give informal recognition to others. Taking the time to sincerely recognise the efforts of colleagues will not only contribute to a positive workplace culture, but it will encourage others to have the same attitude, Himelstein says. “Remember the golden rule: Give others the recognition you think you would deserve.”
Check in with your boss often. “It’s better to share information about your accomplishments with your boss regularly than to save it all up for your annual review,” says Mary Ellen Slayter, a career expert at Monster.com. And when you do update your supervisor on your accomplishments, keep it fact-based and make sure you freely give credit to your colleagues, as well, she says.
Use your “formal recognition tools.” If you have a formal recognition system in place (e.g. you can nominate an employee of the month), make sure you understand the program rules and initiatives — and participate in it, Himelstein says. “Recognition is a positive feedback loop. When you recognise someone, they will most likely return the favour at some point — so use the recognition program’s reach to your advantage.”
Share credit. Don’t hog all the credit for group projects, Slayter says. Even if you’re the one who deserves all the recognition, make a point to praise others. They may follow suit.
Accept praise gracefully. When you are recognised, accept the compliment and say thank you, Slayter says. “Don’t engage in long winded, faux-humble explanations about why it wasn’t really that great.”
“Underappreciated employees are in a moral dilemma. Do they eschew job security and look for a more positive work environment, or do they double-down on their current organisation and try to improve their situation?” Himelstein says. “Both the employees and the organisation must be on the same page about the value of recognition in the workplace before anything positive can occur. So while employees should be asserting themselves when they feel underappreciated, their plight is most likely systemic of a larger problem with the organisation’s attitude toward recognition, which requires a bigger conversation about overall engagement strategy,” he concludes.
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