1. Determine Your Unique Value to Your Company
It’s hard to see our unique qualifications from the inside. We’re way too close to our own experience to determine our value. So, here are a few questions to help you figure it out:
Why is what you bring to your job, company, or office relevant to your workplace? Or, to put it another way: What problem are you solving? What makes you different or unique? What would the people you work with say is the value of your presence?
Being able to answer these questions will help you realize your own value. And from there, you can move onto the next step.
2. Own Your Value
Respect your position and respect how you do your job every single day. When you start to treat your job like it matters, others will notice and follow suit. (And this isn’t just for your benefit: According to a 2013 study on relationships, your self-esteem impacts those around you.)
Take it a step further and be willing to ask yourself: “What else could I be doing? What skills should I develop to take myself to the next level?” Approach management for feedback, then listen and absorb it. The more respect you give to your position, the more respect others will give it.
3. Communicate Your Value to Your Manager
According to HR expert Josh Bersin, there’s a shift happening now in performance reviews, with many companies changing how they evaluate employees. Long story short, managers can’t be expected to quantify a year’s worth of work in a single meeting anymore. So, whether or not your company still conducts annual reviews, it’s incumbent upon you to communicate your value and keep your manager up-to-date on your work.
Set up a meeting where you can discuss how often he or she would like updates from you. Then make sure to follow through and send regular recaps on the projects you’re working on. Include your colleagues’ contributions, note when you’ve mastered a new skill, and keep him or her in the loop on any new work you’re tackling.
4. Compliment Your Colleagues
The easiest way to get respect is to give it, yet so few people do this. So you can really set yourself apart by praising your co-workers publicly. Whenever you’re collaborating, be vocal about sharing the credit. This is a good reminder that you don’t always have to expressly convey your value as much as you need to just be a valuable colleague.
Bonus: Offering up compliments has actually been shown to improve the performance of the colleague you complimented.
5. Show You’re Capable of Nurturing Talent
We’ve heard it before: Competition is dead. Collaboration is in. A study out of Washington University in St. Louis found that creativity among women is actually squelched in more competitive—as opposed to collaborative—environments.
One of the best ways to nurture those around you is to bring out the best in them. Loop a less- experienced colleague in on a project that’ll enhance his or her skill set, or take the time to teach an intern how to use the company’s reporting system. These small moments send a powerful message about your confidence level. You don’t need to resort to undercutting or one-upping your colleagues in order to make yourself look good. By just collaborating, you show that you believe you have useful experience to share.
6. Learn How to Say “No”
Yes, you can still print out presentations materials for the team before a meeting or grab coffee for a co-worker stuck at his desk—doing the menial stuff shouldn’t be beneath you. But, be prepared to remind people where you are now. One way to do that is to start saying no (politely) to those entry-level requests—especially if there’s someone else who’s job it is to complete those tasks.
Still getting questions based about the position you did three years ago? The best way to deal with this is to set people on the right track without sacrificing your own productivity. If it’s not your job anymore, you simply have to say, “I haven’t been in that department for a couple years, but you might try so-and-so.”