I was reading the white paper “How CHROs Deliver Business Impact: 5 Things the C-Suite Should Know About Talent and How HR Can Deliver It,” available through Workplace HR & Safey, and it got me thinking about how HR employees are not the only ones who often feel the need to prove their worth at work. Who hasn’t occasionally felt undervalued in the workplace? Managers and executives, of course, should recognize their employees for the value they add to the organization, but the majority of the onus still falls on the employee to prove his or her worth. Follow this advice to communicate your value effectively:
- Keep a record of your accomplishments. Occasionally tooting your own horn doesn’t automatically turn you into an obnoxious braggart. Shoot your boss an email when a project you’ve worked on does exceptionally well; your boss will want to share in the excitement of your success. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated with your evolving skills and achievements, and don’t be afraid to ask others to write you recommendations for the site as well. (Naturally, you should offer to return the favor.) Keep a journal where you jot down notes about workplace accomplishments big and small that you can reference as you fill out self-evaluations and prepare for performance reviews. It’s easy to forget what you’ve done over the course of six months or a year, but those specific anecdotes and data can make a big impression on your boss and leadership team.
- Understand the big picture. Being really good at your position is important, but it won’t take you that far if you don’t understand how your position contributes to your organization as a whole. Practice articulating why what you do matters to the big picture. And keep the organization’s overall goals in mind as you work, always making adjustments to do what’s in your organization’s best interest rather than what’s easiest for yourself.
- Assert yourself in meetings. Don’t be shy about sharing ideas and joining discussions. Having great ideas is worthless to your organization if you don’t share them. They don’t have to be completely fleshed out; you can work with others to turn your spark of an idea into a winning concept.
How do you communicate your value at work?
[Image Source: USACE Europe District]
Do you work with anyone whose presence drains you? Pop psychology has a term for that person: the Energy Vampire.
Energy Vampires can come in many forms—from the egomaniac who doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise to the passive aggressor who always makes you feel (unduly) guilty—but their effect is consistent: They leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.
Working with energy vampires:
- Recognize the warning signs. Identify the people at work who regularly drain or demoralize you. Pay attention to the early physical and emotional signs (e.g. fatigue and irritability) that those people bring out in you. Once you’re aware of those signs, you can take steps to minimize the Energy Vampires’ effect on you.
- Stay calm. If you allow yourself to react negatively by becoming defensive, arguing or stewing internally, you will only further drain yourself. Instead, stay emotionally neutral. Quickly and calmly remove yourself from the situation.
- Be assertive. Learn effective ways to end conversations with Energy Vampires. When one approaches you, say “I only have two minutes to talk right now. What can I do for you?” Be honest about your needs. Say “I need my lunch break to be a time of relaxation, so I cannot get caught up in that issue right now.” Practice saying “No.”
If you’re an energy vampire:
- Pay attention to others’ behavior around you. Do the people you speak with generally walk away looking happy and energized or irritable and drained? If the latter is more common, reflect on your conversations. After each, think about what you talked about, what tone of voice you used, how you felt and how it appeared the other person felt. That will make you more self-aware in future conversations with co-workers.
- Fix what’s broken in your life. Happy people aren’t energy vampires. If your negativity is draining those around you, chances are high that there is something in your life making you depressed, angry or fearful. Spend time reflecting and journaling to identify that trigger. Then, work out a plan to fix it. As with any to-do list, make sure each item is a single task, not a whole project, otherwise your list will make you feel more overwhelmed than empowered. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But instead of dumping your problems on your co-workers, ask for their assistance in specific ways to overcome those obstacles.
- Take responsibility for your part in every relationship. Even if you’re not sucking the life out of people around you, think about any work relationships that could be better. Perhaps you’re always in a bad mood after working with a particular co-worker. Instead of blaming that person, consider what you can do to improve that relationship. Example: Do you agonize over the thought of working with the person? That might cause you to begin each interaction in a bad mood, worsening your relationship. Try altering your own mood before your next conversation with the person, and see if your positive attitude spreads.
How do you deal with energy vampires?
A co-worker always looks down on you—literally—standing while you sit and leaving you feeling powerless. A peer summons you to her office, giving her the home field advantage during your discussion.
Those are just a couple of ways team members can strip you of your confidence—if you let them. Learn how to recognize more warning signs by reading Mary Foley’s full article “How to Tell if Someone is Playing Power Games with You.”
Then let Mary show you how to anticipate power plays and neutralize the behavior, in this week’s audio conference Office Power Games: Recognizing and Dealing with Troublemakers on Your Team, Among Your Peers, and in Your Company. Sign up today while seats are still available.