There is an old saying “Actions speak louder than words” and I beg to differ. Of course, if you only brag loudly to everyone and not practice what you preach, your actions will definitely speak volumes. In the current world we live in, we do not get much face to face interaction anymore. Everything is ‘like’ on Facebook or ‘retweet’ on Twitter, even among friends who are just a call away or even a house away.
In the Asian context, it is even more difficult as words are not expressed easily. You may get a mother not commenting at all when her young daughter presents her school test all As results but the mother will bring her a bowl of herbal chicken soup (which she spent hours making it) when the daughter is buried deep into her school work late at night.
It’s the same at the workplace. There is always an annoying braggart and a hardworking wallflower in the office. Neither one will succeed. The braggart will just pissed people off when he boastfully take on credits that doesn’t belongs to him, at least not entirely.
In a previous company I had worked in, I have met someone like that, Steve* is no doubt one of our best sales account manager but his supporting staff hates him. He bought branded Coach and Longchamp bags and wallets for his supporting staff every time he goes for his annual summer holiday and he never forgot to give them a lunch treat every month. But he always overpromise his customers on stock availability and he always boast blatantly about his ability to deliver within 24 hours whereas our turnover procedures takes at least 48 hours for urgent cases. Thus leaving his supporting staff forgoing their lunch and dinner and frantically doing overtime just to deliver his overpromise.
Lily* a marketing executive in the same company, is a quiet, shy but friendly if you managed to break her wall of silence. She is sweet and hardworking, extremely responsible for the work she is in charge of.
Time and time again, her manager and her peers threw her work that nobody wants to do. If there’s an event over Christmas holidays, Lily will be there alone. If there is an advertorial that needs last-minute editing, Lily will be in office until midnight. If there is some shitty work to deal with, you’ll be sure Lily is the one clearing up the complains. But when it comes to meetings, her manager will over all the credit she has done and showcase as if his own. Lily does not even get a praise or a good word from the heads. In fact, management does not even know Lily exist. So when there was a reshuffling of duties and marketing team was downsized, Lily was the first to go. It was downhill from there with no one doing the actual jobs. The truth hit hard in their face and when they tried to recruit Lily back, she turned down as she was in a happier place as a marketing manager.
Lily could have save a lot of tears from frustration if she spoke up to her management or even grab opportunities to take over some of the more star projects. Projects that could have push her into management’s ‘limelight’. I’m not saying what Lily did was incorrect but sometimes at a workplace, you just don’t assume that your work will speak for itself.
I’m not telling you that you have to be a braggart either. That just annoyed people to no end and you probably will end up as office enemy number 1. Balance is the key feature. When credit is due to you, don’t shrink back, instead push yourself out there and proudly acknowledged that belongs to you.
Meetings and presentations are extremely good ways to do this. Don’t let anyone else to present your work. If your manager wants to present an overall view, allow him but offer to present the part that involves you. You can always put across as “I know you’ll be presenting the slides on the overall figures for our department. Let me help you to go through with the board of directors on that particular segment on our gifting program growth. I can help to deal with any questions pertaining to that area.” A good manager will recognize that since you are in charge of that segment, you will be the right person to field all the related questions and gladly let you present that part.
Another way is during appraisal period. The time-consuming task is good for you, believe it or not. It’s a way to write pointers to remind your boss on what you have done. Humans naturally will only remember the key projects you have contributed but overlooked the little things you do that led to that completion of projects. If you think your boss probably won’t read it before he signed it off, it’s okay. That’s because your appraisal is not only for him to read, that piece of report will go through the HR and his boss as well to make sure that you are properly appraised and in turn, get what you deserved. It’s the only time once a year to boast about yourself in writing. I wished my company does it quarterly so I can point out to them “Hey, I don’t just sit at my desk and attack my keyboard for nothing.” So shout, highlight and bold your appraisal.
On another note, if you are the boss, please verbally reward your team members. Talk is cheap, if fact, words are free. If someone from your team worked their ass off to write a long piece of email to you to report their findings, please don’t just reply with an “Ok, thanks.” with your iPhone. Remember, that report or that email probably will take a good one hour of his or her to submit to you. So it won’t hurt you to reply with a “Good job! Thanks for the effort.” or an “Excellent! Thanks for spending time on this.” You never know you might just made someone’s day by just these words.
I don’t just do this to my team, in fact, I do this to everyone in the office. From the secretary who orders my stationary to even my manager. I’ll either drop them an email or go over and give them my thanks. Yes, your boss is human too and (maybe) not the monster you think he is, sometimes an affirmation from the staff will go a long way.
So have you praise someone sitting next to you today? Why not now?
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