There has long been a misconception that if we work hard and keep our head down focused on the goals that someone will notice and we will get the recognition we deserve - whether that is as simple as a thank you or the promotion we have earned. Unfortunately in today's world with all of us stretched so thin, it is rare that people have the time to notice what others are accomplishing.
An additional dilemma is that studies show women often feel uncomfortable talking about their accomplishments and promoting themselves. For example, when a woman talks about a project she’ll say "I helped" or "I was part of the team" , while a guy will say "I led the project". We have heard from many women that there is a fear that if she shares her accomplishments, it will be seen as braggadocios or that those who act assertive, tough and self-confident, face significant backlash in the workplace.
So what can you do if you find yourself feeling hesitant to promote yourself but you really want your leadership to know you killed it on a recent project and more importantly that you want and are ready for the next big responsibility or promotion?
Our suggestion is to find yourself a Promotion Buddy.
A Promotion Buddy is someone who will talk about you and all the great work you are doing while you are not in the room. And you do the same for them. We all know that it is way easier to talk up a friend and having someone else singing your praises is generally received with more weight than you saying it yourself.
It is also well known that people need to hear a message between 5-7 times to really take it in. Creating multiple opportunities for your name to come up in different settings will make it that much more likely that when promotion decisions are made behind closed doors, those in the room will have heard your name.
Here are some tips on how to identify a Promotion Buddy and build a support system to enhance your career:
Choose a peer and someone you know well in the organization. You either work together or share information with each other regularly. Most importantly, you trust the person and are comfortable that he/she will represent you well.
Invite the person for coffee and politely ask if he/she would be interested in being advocates for each other. Explain why you selected them and why you too will be happy to be their Promotion Buddy.
Make sure you discuss each other’s career goals, strengths and accomplishments as well as shortcomings, so you are both on the same page. Discuss the opportunities you’d like to be considered for and who the key stakeholders are in making those decisions.
Agree on how often you will communicate. We suggest you schedule regular check-points, even if it’s 30 minutes per month. During the touch-base meeting, be sure to share all of the projects you are working on and any accomplishments you have had. Be sure not to prejudge and remove items because you think they are not important. Let your Buddy decide when they are in conversations what would be relevant to share.
You should continue to work at advocating for yourself and sharing your opinions. Doing so along with having a Buddy advocate as well will strengthen the message around your work.