You work hard and smartly, deliver great results and get good feedback. You’re a high performer and well thought of, and yet… you are not getting that promotion, that offer of a big new project, and so on. Does this sound familiar?
Much of the coaching work I do involves helping people achieve their goals for promotion and general advancement. Increasingly this involves work on ‘branding’, self-promotion and getting noticed. Many people are entirely happy with this and progress accordingly. Others however, are distinctly uncomfortable with the notion of self-promotion. Many will have resisted doing so for years and may have come to me in the first place because they are tired of being passed over in the promotion ‘game’. They ask themselves, and me as their coach, what is going wrong? If you have ever been disgruntled at watching a self-promoting colleague with seemingly fewer skills and inferior performance get promoted over you, this might apply to you too.
I have heard many similar stories over the past decade and they all seem to have the same belief in common: If I work hard and intelligently, do a good job and generally keep my head down, my work will be recognised and I will be rewarded. It seems to go hand in hand with the notion of being modest, of not ‘showing off’, the ‘good things come to he who waits’ school of thought. It is a belief with which many of us in this culture are brought up. It is somehow not “nice”, not ‘us’ to ask. Many of us are deeply uncomfortable with having to push ourselves forward if we want to get on. This is not what we’re taught at school or at home, where being ‘pushy’ or self promoting is often distinctly frowned upon. The problem is that if we keep our heads down we are frequently overlooked…
When I look further into this with clients I usually find that the real problem isn’t in promoting ourselves, or even in being sufficiently confident to do so. The problem concerns the belief or expectation that to be seen and recognised you must behave in a certain way. In other words that self promotion involves behaviour which is loud, brash, arrogant, superficial, highly extroverted, self-centred, and so on. In other words, everything you’re not, don’t wish to be, or are not able to be. The essential belief in the ‘rightness’ of this is what leads to the need to become ‘someone else’ at work. I don’t believe that this kind of pretence is desirable, healthy or sustainable for the you as an individual and I certainly don’t believe that it is what organisations need in order to thrive in the modern, post-credit crunch world.
In coaching sessions with me I may challenge this expectation and recalibrate it to form a new question – “how can you effectively communicate your abilities and your desire for progression in a style that is authentic to you?” By doing this, we have addressed both aspects of the question, what will I do? and how will I do it?. With this re-framed question, we are then well on our way to develop an effective strategy and a plan of action with which to achieve those career goals.
Don’t wait to be discovered…