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Steps to Improve On-the-Job Recognition

Q: In my current position I've worked hard but haven't achieved the promotions and recognition I deserve. Although I get consistently good ·reviews, my manager doesn’t think of me when he assigns special projects or recommends people for advancement or management training. While I enjoy my job and the camaraderie with co-workers, I'm beginning to resent being passed over.

Can this situation be salvaged, or do I need to find another company and start fresh? Obviously, staying put would be easier, but I'm willing to make a move if necessary.

A: It's likely that you can change your situation by improving how you communicate with your manager. Tills will take time and effort, but if you like your company it's worth it. Because you didn't specifically mention requesting more responsibility, I'm going to assume that like many competent people, you do a good job, but neglect to ask for what you want. You may be keeping silent on this issue because:

  • You're afraid to discuss it.

  • You don't know what you want.

  • You’re assuming that through some mystical force, your manager recognizes your goals and doesn't need any prompting from you.

Any of the above will thwart your ambition if you don't take action to change your behavior. To get your career back on track, try the following process:

  • Visualize what you want in the next one to three years. Identify both your best skills and those you want to improve. Think about ways to use those skills, either through a special project or via a lateral move to another department.

  • Next, schedule an appointment with your man­ ager to discuss your career. While it requires putting your ego on the line, find out if he thinks you have the potential to move beyond your current position. If he doesn't, you_ can either decide to accept his opinion, ask for a transfer or start looking for a new job.

Probably, he recognizes your talent but hasn't made a major effort to develop it. He may think you're happy where you are or he may pay more attention to the needs of other, more assertive employees. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" has become a cliché for good reason. Those employees who volunteer for skill-building assignments usually are a lot more likely to get them than those who wait and hope to be asked.

  • Talk with your boss about the skills you want to use and build. Solicit his opinion on your strong points and those that need work if you are to advance. Be sure to make it clear that you want honest feedback. It's important to clarify his perception of your current performance so you can measure your progress. Without an initial bench mark, it's difficult to take credit for for­ ward movement.

  • Finally, set some specific goals and action plans that you and your supervisor believe will foster and document growth. These should be set within a time frame and conform to the RUMBA criteria (reasonable, understandable, measurable, behavior and agreed upon). You also should plan to get together regularly, once every one to three months, to monitor your progress. Remember, now that you .have captured his attention and commitment, you must periodically rekindle his interest. One serious discussion won't revolutionize your communication pattern.

This process should work for you if you persist in using it for a year or so. However, if you find that no amount of targeted effort seems to increase your status, consider changing jobs. While your plan may not have worked in your current company, you will have gained some valuable experience in asking for what you want and increasing your expertise, both of which will be useful anywhere you go.

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