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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

Ask an Honest HR Professional: How Can I Prove My Value Without Bragging?

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Dear HR Professional,

In the office, I'm highly focused on my priorities and managing my time—rather than tooting my own horn. I thought this was a sign of independence, but now I'm realizing that my boss actually has no clue what I'm accomplishing. How do I make my results more visible to my boss without bragging?

Bashful Bragger

Dear Bashful Bragger,

I love this question, because it is something so many professionals struggle with. It’s easy to think that your work should speak for itself, which makes it hard to elevate your own results.

That said, advocating for your accomplishments is one of the most important things you can do for your career. It may take some effort and practice, but it’s never a waste of anyone’s time to create transparency and showcase your value. Here are three ways you can ensure your work isn’t hiding in a black box.

1. Establish an Open Line of Communication

Are you meeting with your manager regularly? If so, what are you discussing when you meet?

As your boss, he likely wants to see you thrive and succeed in your role, but he can’t help you if he doesn’t know there is an issue.

Try sharing the concern that you aren’t elevating your contributions to him enough, and ask him how you can provide more effective or helpful updates.

For example, send him a few high-level bullet points of what you’re working on in an email before meeting. This will give a broad overview of your current scope, opens the door for him to ask questions, and gives you more time to deep dive on the most important things. Remember, you are your own best career advocate. Don’t be afraid to give voice to your accomplishments.

2. Watch Your “We’s”

If you’re part of a team, it is easy to lump your individual contributions into the achievements of the broader group.

It can become a habit to say, “We launched this project” or “We met our quarterly goal.” While teamwork is critical, make sure you are also calling out to your manager the specific work you owned.

3. Prioritize Your Career Development

Reflect on what’s important to you in your career. Is it a promotion or raise? Is it the development of a new skill? Is it more work flexibility to accommodate personal needs?

Once you know what you want to go after, partner with your manager to make it happen. Create a development action plan that showcases what you’re working on now and what you would like to work on in the future. Set up quarterly check-ins to specifically discuss your growth and opportunities.

By working with your manager to act on the things that are important to you, she will have more insight into what you’re trying to achieve, and can help you evaluate how your current work is helping to accomplish that goal. This not only elevates your work, but also creates an investment for both you and your boss to help you succeed.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask an Honest HR Professional in the subject line.

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