Recently I was honored to speak on a webinar called “Ask A Leader Anything” hosted by the amazing Jo Miller, CEO of Be Leaderly. One of my favorite questions of the day was the following: What is the one piece of career advice that has helped you most?
The question made me think back to one of my first jobs in the corporate world. I was crushing it! Working long hours, doing everything my boss asked of me and more, and volunteering for more when I had down time. When it came time for my annual review, I thought I was a shoe in for the big raise and promotion. After all, I was doing fantastic work. When I sat down with my manager for the review, I could tell by the look on his face that I had gotten it all wrong. No big raise or promotion for me. In fact, we both left that meeting confused.
It took a long time of working with mentors and peers to figure out where I had gone wrong – I didn’t speak up. There are several ways that “speaking up” manifests itself in our day-to-day work environment. Here are the six ways to effectively “speak up” for success.
1. Ask for what you want (and deserve).
Although I may have deserved that raise and promotion, there was no way my manager had any idea that this was my expectation. It is critical to share your career aspirations and expectations with you managers early and often so he or she can support your success and growth. Early means during goal setting time and often means checking in to status along the way.
Conversation starter idea: “From a career standpoint, my goal is to become a manager in 2 years. What do I need to do to get there?”
2. Share Successes
Sometimes great work happening in a large company can be like that tree falling in the forest. If you weren’t there to see it, did it really happen? While I was diligently getting great results in my job, I failed to share this with my team or my manager. We must get into the habit of sharing successes. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable or feel like bragging. Get over it! Try positioning the success in terms of “we” instead of “I” to make it feel more like a group effort.
Success sharing idea: “Let me share the great results we had with our program.”
3. Be Present in Meetings
Sometimes meetings can feel like a burden. Conference calls can be worse. It can be easy to go on mute and multi-task. As an introvert, I had a habit of listening intently during meetings but not speaking up in fear that I would say the wrong thing. Here’s the good news – there usually is no “wrong thing” or “bad question.” Pay attention and push yourself out of your comfort zone to make yourself heard on calls.
Meeting question idea: “That sounds like a great plan. Have we considered aligning with the marketing team?”
4. Appreciate & Recognize Others
Data shows that appreciation of good work is a huge motivator of people and even a lever of employee engagement. In the busy day-to-day work environment it can feel like we never get a moment to say “thank you” or “great work” but it is more important than ever. Even more critical is giving others credit when credit is due, especially to management. It sends a message that you have high integrity and are a team player.
Appreciation idea: Send a note to a colleague’s manager (copy your colleague) calling out their success and great work on a project.
5. Stop Apologizing.
Just as important as speaking up is to know when to stop apologizing. I hear it all the time…people apologize for not getting an email, for leaving a meeting early, for misunderstanding a question, for having a difference of opinion. Constant apologizing can make you appear less powerful and less confident.
Instead of apologizing try this: “In my opinion” “I plan to leave early.” “Can you please repeat that?”
6. Get comfortable saying “no.”
Part of speaking up is having the confidence to say no. How many times has someone asked you to do something at work that you didn’t think was the best idea? Or maybe there is a simpler way to approach the challenge? Or perhaps you have a full plate and can’t take that new project? The trick to saying no is to be ready with an alternative option or ask for support.
Instead of no try this: “With my current work load, I can’t take on this new project without giving up something else. Would you help me prioritize my responsibilities?”
What other ways do you speak up for success?