So What? Making Sure Others Know Your Value

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last month, I spoke with a woman at an association meeting.  She was worried that her work never seemed to get noticed and frustrated that she couldn’t “show off” her strengths.  Have you ever felt the same? Do you sometimes wonder if your boss – or anyone else in your organization - knows the contribution you add? 

Wonder no more.  If you’re willing to take charge of your career and translate your hard work into accomplishments that get noticed you can get the word out that you’ve made a difference.

  1. Right now – make a list of the top ten projects you’ve initiated or been involved with over the last year.  Include the details of what you did to make this project succeed.  (Or, note what you learned from your efforts if the project didn’t go the way you would have liked – and what you might do different next time.)
  2. Look over your list and notice the themes in what you did.  Were your efforts coaching related? Did they increase productivity?  Did you keep some high potential employees from walking out the door?
  3. Next, focus on how your actions and themes line up with the 10 Areas of Expertise (AOEs) in the new ASTD Competency Model.   Which AOEs seem to be your strengths?  Are you using the language of the AOEs and the competencies when you describe to others what you’ve been up to?  Take the time to translate your actions into the language that your T & D manager and others understand.
  4. Consider your brand.  Some people assume that “branding” is the latest fad that will disappear tomorrow. It won’t.   Branding is a serious strategy used by savvy professionals to describe who they are and what they do.  Ten trainers applying for the same job will each approach their work and demonstrate their value in very individual ways.  What ways do you stand out from others in your field? 

  5. Susan Chritton, author of Personal Branding for Dummies, makes the important point that people who succeed are often the ones who know how to demonstrate their capabilities and communicate them to others – and they do so strategically. 

    You can do the same thing – you just need to take the time to discover and shape your own brand, so that others know who you are, what strengths you add and what benefits they can gain from tapping you as a resource.

  6. Take the advice of executive career coach Deb Dib.  She counsels job seekers to consider the provocative question “So what?”  Make certain that when you discuss what you’ve accomplished, do so in words that convey what your actions mean to your organization’s bottom line – or to your manager’s priorities.  If your actions don’t really make a difference in moving your employees or your company forward, then you won’t be seen as an employee who adds important value. 
  7. Make it easy for others.  After you’ve spent time on the five suggestions listed above, make it a point to weave the language of your brand, your value, your competencies and your areas of expertise into discussions with your boss, colleagues and those you serve.  Add them to your blog and social media contributions.  Use them when answering that frequently asked question: ‘What do you do?’ at association meetings and other industry get-togethers.

Before long, you’ll gain confidence in the certainty that others know the particular expertise and value you offer, even in a crowded and noisy workplace.

About the Author
Caitlin Williams, PhD, is an expert in navigating the workplace with grit and grace and co-author of Career Moves: Be Strategic About Your Future (ASTD Press 2013). An atypical career development professional, through her consulting, speaking, and writing, she evangelizes the opportunities for experienced professionals to continue to pursue meaningful work that keeps their performance high, their anxiety low, and their lives moving in the direction that works for them. Witnessing the disheartening effects of the “working worried,” she offers these committed workers specific tools and strategies for flourishing in a always uncertain workplace. Whether experienced professionals are exploring new career paths or pursuing excellence in already chosen careers, she acts as their chief supporter and sounding board. Caitlin is also an organization’s key advisor, guiding leadership in identifying and leveraging employee strengths and critical skill sets and helping them build healthy, productive and innovative workplaces. In her work, Caitlin uses the leading-edge tools of personal branding, appreciative inquiry, personal story, and preferred futuring. These techniques powerfully shift her clients and audiences’ perspective from one that is limited to a history-focused and static view of themselves to one that leverages current strengths and focuses on future possibilities.
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