In the work-place, is it better to ensure you individually are given credit for your work, or that the team benefits from your work?
My team recently submitted a proposal of which I prepared more than 75%. In fact, of the 25% my analyst (who is junior to me) prepared, I had to revise significantly. The final paper was jointly signed by both of us. Our Chief Risk Officer reached out to my analyst commending his great paper, cc:ing my boss. My boss then congratulated the analyst on his great work as well.
I am not sure if I should raise this issue with my boss or just keep the peace. I am up for promotion, and really want to make sure that my work is recognized. I also don’t want to throw the analyst under the bus, despite being annoyed that he didn’t even acknowledge my work. (Yes, I’m a little bitter right now.)
To answer your general question, I would say you need both – ensure you get credit for your work, and that the team benefits from your work; I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. Often, many of us do great work and hope that people recognize it. Well, it often does not work like that in corporate America. Unfortunately, hard work alone does not guarantee success.
People are busy and may not know your level of contribution unless you figure out a way to tell them tactfully. We all need to learn how to self-promote subtly in order to get the credit we deserve.
To answer your detailed question of whether you should raise this issue with your boss, I wouldn’t recommend doing it directly. Doing so would be awkward, and you will come across as self-serving and as competitive with the Junior staff – neither are good images for you. However, I do believe you have other options to subtly claim credit while “keeping the peace.” Here are some ideas, but you need to decide what works for this situation, as I don’t know all the details.
- Reply to the email the Chief Risk Officer sent – You didn’t mention how you knew that the Chief Risk officer sent an email to the Analyst to congratulate him. Assuming you were copied on it, and depending on the tone, you can choose to “reply all” and agree with the CRO that the Analyst did a great job. Mention that you couldn’t have done it without him. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s one way to inject yourself into a conversation – but only if you are copied on the email. Indirectly, you remind the CRO and your boss that you led the effort.
- Send a thank you note copying your boss and other people’s bosses – Assuming you were not copied on the email from the CRO, you can choose to initiate your own email with a premise to thank all those that helped you and your team to do this work. I am assuming others in the company have helped in some way with this proposal. This is a way to acknowledge their help. Under the premise of sharing good news and thanking them you accomplish a few objectives. 1) Indirectly establish yourself as the lead on the work without saying so. 2) Acknowledge others to your boss and their bosses for their help. 3) Use “we” to include yourself and the analyst so it doesn’t appear like you are just talking about yourself. 4) Give those who helped you an update on how their help have resulted in a good proposal. You can copy your CRO as well, if it’s appropriate.
- Include this work in your self-evaluation – for your promotion – Don’t assume that just because your boss said something great to the Analyst meant he thought you didn’t do the work. During a review, there is normally a self-evaluation portion. Include this as a major accomplishment. Leave out the part that you did most of it as that doesn’t help you. Instead, you can claim that you managed junior resources to get it done together. That makes you sound like you have management skills, and skills to get the work done – both are qualities of someone ready for promotion. If the boss asks you about this, then you can elaborate. If he/she doesn’t ask, then perhaps you were over-worried, and he/she already gave you the credit.
At the end of the day, your focus is to do good work and be proactive in building the right reputation for yourself. Perception is reality in the work place. You need to be strategic about shaping the perception of those who can impact your career. That’s why I believe that self-promotion is one of the 28 key soft skills for your career success.
As you work in the future, it would be wise to always include self-promotion activities as a regular part of completing your work, in order to get the credit you deserve. Here are some self-promotion ideas in addition to the ones above.
Your comments: Can you relate to this story? What else would you do to subtly promote your work to others? Share your comments and questions below. Let’s have a discussion.
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I am always in your corner.