Executive Coaching Articles

Don’t Make Your Work Look Too Easy

Have you ever watched a figure skater glide across the ice and marveled at how easy it
looks? So graceful, so beautiful, so effortless. It takes a lot of work to get to that point, though. Go down to the rink on a Saturday morning and watch the kids taking their first lessons as they stumble and fall and then get up to try again. It takes a lot of falls before you get good enough to make it look easy.

The same is true of many jobs. You get so good at what you do that no one realizes how hard you work. It’s great to be an expert at what you do, but it can sometimes backfire. If your boss thinks you’re hardly working — rather than working hard — he’s not going to want to give you any raises or promotions. It’s up to you, then, to make sure your boss knows what it takes for you to do your job so well.

For example, a local TV host in San Francisco named Ross McGowan was so skilled at interviewing his guests that his boss didn’t realize how much work went into the preparation for each show. He made it look easy, and as a result, when it was time to negotiate a new contract with his boss, the offer was much lower than he had
anticipated. If he had taken care to ensure that his boss was aware of how much work, skill, and training went into making his interviews look so effortless, he may have received a better offer.

A passive approach doesn’t work when it comes to getting credit for the work you are doing. One of my clients, who worked at Amazon.com, thought his superiors would know what he was doing and value his efforts without any special effort on his part. This belief fell apart when he heard his co-workers getting praise at a meeting for work that he himself had performed. That was when he realized he needed to do something differently if he wanted to move up in his career, but he wasn’t sure exactly what he should do.

As we worked together, he learned how to be proactive about making sure he got credit for what he accomplished on the job. Every day, he would do something to sell himself to management and show them how valuable he was to the company. You can do the same thing, starting with three simple steps.

  1. Keep track of your successes. Most employees wait until their annual performance review is approaching, then try to remember what they’ve accomplished over the past year. If you’ve done this, you know how hard it is to remember everything. Make tracking your successes part of your daily routine.Every day, either at the end of the day or first thing the next morning, review what you have done for the day and record any significant progress you have made, projects you’ve completed, and goals you have accomplished. You won’t be able to tell anyone about your accomplishments if you don’t know what they are. If you keep track of what you accomplish on a daily or weekly basis, next time you’re updating your resume to ask for a promotion it will be a cinch.
  2. Communicate your successes with your boss. E-mail your boss at least once per week with an update. Let him know whenever you complete a project, and if possible, attach a dollar figure to it to validate your worth to the company. For example, if you saved the company $60,000 this week and you make $50,000 per year, you’ve already paid for yourself.
  3. Tell others about what You have accomplished. Your boss is not the only one who needs to know how valuable you are. Think of other people you can copy on e-mails, such as other department leaders to whom the results of your project are relevant. Engage in small talk with company leaders whenever you get a chance and look for opportunities to tell them about what you’ve been working on without sounding boastful.

As the leaders in your organization realize how much you contribute to the success of the
department and the organization, you’ll be given opportunities to work on bigger and more
important projects. Your visibility within the company will grow, and your chances of
receiving a promotion will increase. Increasing your visibility at work helps you ensure that you’ll be paid what you’re worth and continue to move up in the company.