I talk to a lot of people looking for jobs. Part of my work is to interview recruiters and job-seekers. One of the issues that comes up again and again, especially in this video, is the feeling that you’re not appreciated for the work that you do.
We’ve all felt it at one time or another, and you may be feeling it right now. The question is: How do you turn it around? How do you go from being underappreciated to being appreciated? I asked around for advice, and here are some tips I received, along with some I’ve learned along the way.
For the purpose of this article I’m going to assume that you deserve to be appreciated.
Let your work speak for itself.
This is really the strongest way you can communicate. Often, part of letting your work speak for itself is communicating it clearly to those you want to impress. Have you ever walked your audience through the thought process of your work? For example, Web designer Paul Boag, co-founder of Headscape, makes sure the first time a client sees a website he’s designed it’s accompanied by a video of him explaining the design. That way he can communicate his thought process along with his work, thus minimizing confusion when it comes time to review.
Love what you do.
“There’s a lot to be said for the infectious nature of enthusiasm,” said Luke Filose, NGO marketing and engagement manager, EMPG at Intel. “If you don’t appreciate your own work, if you’re not passionate about it, why would you expect to make an impression on others and have others recognize you and appreciate you?”
“Do not underestimate yourself,” said Liam Virinovi, self-development expert and founder of Free Infinite Possibilities. “There is an energy with what you do and how you respond. If the energy or attitude you give out is from a position of weakness and doubt—in other words, ‘please listen to me; I’m smart’—others will not take you seriously.”
Initiate the appreciation.
We are all monstrously self-centered. One of the main reasons you may not feel you’re being appreciated is that everyone is spending so much time obsessing over themselves. If you don’t feel anyone is appreciating you, ask yourself whether you’re appreciating others. Start by taking the initiative and recognize others’ work. Compliment in person, via email, and let others know how well you think a colleague is doing.
Align yourself with rock stars.
Who are the company’s rock stars? Can you align yourself with them by getting on their team, or at least commenting/complimenting them on their work? This is a sensitive area because if you go overboard with this process you could quickly be labeled as a kiss-up, and your efforts will have backfired. Be genuine about your interest in rock stars’ work and your desire to work with them.
Be social with key people outside of work.
I don’t know what it is, but co-workers really loosen up and you form stronger bonds with them when you leave the office. To form a stronger bond with a co-worker, take him or her out for a low-pressure, casual lunch. When you do so, keep work and yourself off the agenda. Spend the time trying to learn more about the other person. Keep asking questions to show that you’re honestly interested. The best compliment you can give a person is simply to show interest. This is your chance.
Seek acknowledgement outside the company.
Sometimes as hard as you try you simply can’t get anyone within the company to recognize how awesome you are. In such a situation, most employees start looking for the door. But if you really love your job and you want to keep working at the company, you could seek acknowledgement outside of the organization. If this recognition becomes public, via traditional or social media, it will have a far reaching affect within your organization. It’s pathetic, I know, but sometimes the only way to get people within your company to recognize your talent is have someone outside the company point it out.
This may not be so easy if you work for an organization for which all your work is extremely private. Regardless, your thoughts and ideas that are not connected to the company can be recognized. The best way to get recognition is to participate in industry events and, especially, to start volunteering. That’s probably the best way to prove yourself. Not only will the public recognition get back to your company, but your managers may feel a bit threatened that you might jump ship, as others are seeing something in you that they didn’t see.
Lack experience? Use others’ experience, and quote them.
You may be awesome, but you also may be green to the industry, so it’s essentially impossible to show off how much you know and what you can do. This is where you have to use the knowledge of others to your advantage. Make sure you’re continually reading trade publications, and attend as many trade functions you can. Do your best to share the knowledge with your co-workers. The more you do this, the more that knowledge will be attributed to you—and the more you’ll be seen as a valuable resource.
No one gets immediate appreciation for their work; it doesn’t happen overnight. If things aren’t going your way, never do anything drastic, because that will immediately be seen as a sign of desperation and it will most definitely backfire. If you truly are doing great work, communicating that work to others, and making the connections you need to within and outside the organization, then you will see others start to truly appreciate your efforts.
I’ve run the gamut of having my work appreciated and not appreciated. What’s your experience? Here’s a video of tech workers admitting what they want out of their next job.