With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand. This is the opening line of the song “76 Trombones” featured in the famous musical, The Music Man. While I am a fan of brass sections, this blog is not about marching bands. The opening line from the song reminded me of the necessity for employees to ‘toot their horn’ to their bosses about work-related accomplishments. This point was driven home to me in the past week. I was running a meeting and one of my co-workers looked at my bio and said that she did not know I had done X, Y, and Z. While it was nice for her to notice, it made me realize that my boss probably does not realize that I did X, Y, and Z – and that is a problem.
So how does one promote oneself without coming across as promoting oneself?
Forward an Email: Your boss gives you a critical project with an important client and you do a stellar job. You may receive a note/email of thanks from the client. When this happens, forward the email to your boss. The email forward does not have to have the tone of “Look what I did” but rather a “I wanted to let you know that I took care of the project and the client is very happy” tone. Now, the boss knows you are a rock star employee, the client is happy, and your communication about the status of your projects is appropriate.
Client Speaks to Your Boss: Sometimes we help others and they respond by asking, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” Why yes, would you mind dropping a my boss a quick note about XYZ? I recently spoke to a trade group as a favor for a fellow alum. I volunteered to give the presentation (ie. no speaker fee) so the alum asked if there was anything he could do to help me out. I asked him to consider writing my boss to let him know what I did. The alum and the organizer of the trade meeting were happy to send an email. My boss shared the two notes, both were very positive, and my boss began to see me in a new light – someone who could be an external face for our office’s outreach efforts.
Periodic Touch Base Meetings: Do you sit down with your supervisor twice a year for a performance review? Probably. What happens in the mean time – do you have periodic meetings about your projects, work, etc.? For most of us, the answer is no. If your boss is not scheduling time with you to touch base about your work, you need to. Ask for a 20 or 30 minute meeting every month to provide updates and accomplishments. The boss needs to know the impact you are making in the office, the work load you are shouldering, and the results you are delivering.
Let’s say you do have periodic meetings, do you go into the meetings with an agenda of topics you want to cover? You should. I used to supervise an employee who would bring me a one page summary – what she had accomplished during the past two weeks, what was one her plate for the upcoming two weeks, and her long-term projects. I loved these sheets as it kept me up-to-date on her work. If there were any course corrections that needed to happen, we knew that fairly quickly from her notes. Selfishly, I loved these one pagers as it made her mid-year and end-of-the-year performance reviews a piece of cake as I had all the notes from her work over the year.
In 2013, be your own brass section and you will be surprised who takes notice!