I've Got Spirit, Yes I Do!
I've Got Spirit, Yes I Do!

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Getting ahead doesn't mean shouting your accomplishments through a bullhorn at the next meeting, but it also doesn't mean waiting out the game on the bench. You just have to know the right way to cheer for the home team.

According to Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist/executive coach and author of "The Office Survival Guide," (McGraw-Hill, 2005), when it comes to tooting your own horn, there are three things you need to consider: What's your particular office culture? What personality does your boss have? And was the success just yours or did it belong to a group?

"There are work cultures in which it is easier to verbalize your achievements," Puder-York says. "An individualistic environment is really focused on results, so it's a lot easier to find a way to raise your hand and call attention to what you've done. In a collaborative environment, in which it's very important to be a team player, making an effort to point out how you stand out might rub people the wrong way. You have to understand the kind of work environment you are in and then customize your strategy."

The same advice applies to deciding how best to approach your boss. Recognize your boss' personality-type and pay attention to the methods by which he or she typically likes to receive information.

"If you have an arrogant boss who tends to use his employees as tools and take credit for their work, it might create more negativity if you try to stand out," Puder-York says. "But if you have a good boss that delegates effectively, let them know the positive effects of your hard work in a diplomatic way, via a report or verbally. They will most likely be grateful for the update."

In an individualistic environment in which your work is not impacted by that of your peers, there is no problem with politely pointing out your personal achievements to your boss. But if you were part of a group project or you leaned heavily on others to complete your work, says Puder-York, you can still say something but you should share the credit. Pointing out the success of others as well as your own will not only make you friends, it also demonstrates a potential for leadership.

"A good leader builds up their peers because they aren't threatened," Puder-York says.

Once you've established the nature of your office, boss and peers, there are a few ways to go about getting your self-promoting point across.

"The most important part of highlighting your hard work is that you go about it in a diplomatic, polite way," says Gini Graham Scott, PhD, a sociologist specializing in work and business relationships and author of "A Survival Guide for Working with Humans" (AMACOM, 2004). "If you feel that it's appropriate timing at a staff meeting, you could make a casual comment such as, 'When I worked on this project, we had the following positive outcome.'"

This same information could be imparted naturally through casual conversation or written in a memo or note. Diplomatically suggest that something you've done might be helpful to other people, specifically referring to key areas of interest, says Scott. You could also take a trusted coworker/friend out to dinner and ask them if they might be willing to say something about you. In exchange, you can offer to say something positive about their work as well.

"Recap the positive contributions that everyone has made, slipping your own in there as well," Scott says.

Whatever the tactic, remember to be assertive, diplomatic and positive, Puder-York says. Highlight the few things that are significant instead of reciting a laundry list and allow your boss to respond.

Most of us like being a star player, but it usually takes a solid team to win the game.

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Getting credit where credit is due is how to get ahead in the workplace, and how to feel good about a hard day's work

By Anna Sachse
CTW Features