Your work speaks for itself.
The cream always rises to the top.
And good things come to those who wait and pay their dues.
Wishing this is true doesn’t make it so. If you’ve bought into these myths, know that things won’t go the way you hope.
While you’ve got your head down, less competent and unremarkable coworkers are talking their way into opportunities that could’ve and should’ve been yours.
“Rules and the status quo aren’t set in stone,” says Lisa Bragg, author of Bragging Rights: How to Talk About Your Work Using Purposeful Self-Promotion. “The notion that we shouldn’t talk about our accomplishments with pride because it isn’t polite limits our human potential, and it keeps power limited to the old gatekeepers.
“We’re having the tough conversations about what’s going wrong, but we’re struggling to have the conversations that should be easy – about our successes, accomplishments, experiences and performance.
“It’s an essential exchange in the world of work – to be seen and heard and to see others.”
It’s not just self-sabotage that does you in. You might work for an organization that’s caught up in the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Instead of being celebrated, high performers are cut down. They’re dismissed as posers. Self-promotion is seen as immodest and impolite. Feelings could get hurt by the rest of the team.
“Tall Poppy Syndrome occurs when people are criticized, alienated, disliked or rejected because of their success and achievements,” says Bragg.
“There’s a massive cost to the people it impacts and the organizations where this permeates. Those who are a cut above the rest, high achievers, or different and eccentric will be cut down to meet the field of mediocre performers.”
This is how you wind up with bad managers, lousy leaders and an exodus of people who are good and great at their jobs.
It’s worth asking who holds the garden shearers and why they’re so quick to prune.
Are they trying to save their self-promoting colleagues from ridicule and resentment? Or are they trying to save themselves and defend the status quo, knowing that their colleagues’ brilliance throws their lacklustre work into sharp relief?
Bragg’s come up with a bragging rights strategy for purposeful self-promotion. It’s about knowing the answers to seven questions. How are you? Who are you? Who do you serve? What do you know? Who do you know? Who knows you? And what’s next?
“I want you to feel comfortable putting your work in the spotlight. I want you to feel so comfortable talking about your work as success, right out in the open, in the daylight. For all of us, I want bragging and self-promotion to be so common that both are expected, accepted and nurtured. I want us to expect it of ourselves and encourage it in others.”
Encouragement also needs to come from enlightened leaders. Put away your organization’s garden shearers. Recognize and celebrate your tall poppies. Shine the spotlight on your hidden gems. When you pay compliments, don’t let anyone dismiss or downplay their achievements or drift into self-deprecation.
According to her research, Bragg says 85 per cent of respondents know they need to self-promote more and 90 per cent believe they need to self-promote to get ahead in their careers.
Bragg can help you gain the confidence and skills to do it right and be a role model for all the hidden gems and tall poppies at work and in your life.
Photo by Corina Ardeleanu on Unsplash.
Jay Robb serves as communications manager for McMaster University’s Faculty of Science, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed more than 600 business books since 1999.