I received a question the other day, “What if you have been in the same position for 10 years and have not been valued? I have told my boss all of the stuff I have done well but have been overlooked for advancements. What advice would you give?”
When situations like this arise at work, we often look at results to help offer an explanation. If you have done excellent work, increased revenue for the company, and get great feedback from customers, you probably feel you deserve a raise or promotion. However, what others think of you can make or break those opportunities for advancement. Where there’s smoke there is often fire, and if you are not moving forward after making your ambitions and qualifications clear, then there is a “good” reason in the minds of decision-makers.
To find out what that is, you must ask for feedback. This isn’t comfortable, but it’s necessary to your process of working with what is there. With information, you can begin to create a different story about you and improve the support for your goals. Long-standing impressions – over 10 years, for example – aren’t easy to change, but you can. Here are the three steps:
Ask for feedback. Meet with each individual who matters to your success. Let them know you are serious about improving your value and career opportunities in the organization. Ask for their honest impressions of you in your role – it helps to give them specific areas, such as being a team player, being a good communicator, etc. This gives more structure for their feedback. And when the impulse to explain yourself arises, don’t do it – it only comes across as defensive. Take notes and thank them when you are finished.
Return for some advice. Let them know that you have a focus you are committed to working on. Request up to three things you could do that would make a difference for them in the area, i.e. listening empathically or developing a partnership. If you get further feedback or a complaint about a behavior that triggered a negative experience for them, you can ask clarifying questions and offer an apology for any perceived offense in the past, however unintentional. Say thanks and that you’ll get back with them about your plan.
Reflect on this information. Keep the new behavior or action simple and realistic, and get back with your stakeholders to let them know what behaviors they can look for from you. Ask them for assistance in supporting your plan by giving you feedback on occasion. This enlists their support and ensures they will pay attention to your behavior changes. Be sure to check in with them about once a month for further feedback.
Andrea Zintz, President, Strategic Leadership Resources (SLR)