7 Ways to Demonstrate Your Value at Work
How do you prove your work is important? While your value may seem obvious to you, it's important to realize that it may not be as obvious or visible to your colleagues, stakeholders or leaders.
When I joined Brilliant Ink to lead Marketing, I had my work cut out for me as far as proving the value of marketing. After meeting with leaders and stakeholders, I heard the following about marketing:
“I don’t really understand what was being done and why.”
“I feel like we could be doing so much better.”
“It feels random.”
If you work in internal communications (or really, any job!), does any of this look or sound familiar when you think about your work, function or an initiative you manage? If so, despite the odds appearing to not be in your favor, I’m here to tell you that all of this can be fertile ground for elevating your work and establishing yourself as a valuable employee.
And I say this because, in the time since I first joined Brilliant Ink, marketing has grown from an awkward middle child with limited support and understand to an overachieving first-born with increased influence and emphasis (much love to all the brilliant middle children out there <3).
And if we can do it, you can too!
So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for seven small ideas that can have a big impact over time for elevating your work and showcasing your value.
1. SPEAK UP
For starters, you have to be willing to raise your hand and offer ideas to the right people. Knowing how to articulate your thought process, rationale, intention and objective goes a long way when sharing an idea. (i.e., “I’m offering this idea because I see an opportunity with abc to achieve xyz.”)
Some of that requires preparation. Some of that requires confidence (or even bravado).
And I know that for some, that's easier said than done. It's not about being the loudest in the meeting or the most vocal though. It's about listening to what's being said, asking questions, understanding the needs, and then offering solutions to get there. If you tend to be quieter or speaking up makes you a little anxious, I can't recommend this resource from Harvard Business Review enough.
On the flip side, maybe you've shared an idea but you're getting resistance. Instead, try positioning the idea as a pilot with a smaller group. It’ll be an opportunity to experiment (more on this shortly) with an idea and collect feedback, data and fine-tune — or move on if it doesn’t work!
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram encourage their employees to experiment with new user features (like emoji reactions or hiding the likes) on a small group of users before rolling it out more broadly.
2. REFRAME IDEAS AND MISTAKES
Framing ideas as experiments, successes as iterative steps (not finish lines) and misfires/failures as learning opportunities (not dead ends) will transform the way you work.
Coming back to the idea of pilots, approach and position new ideas like experiments. While, yes, we can often make educated guesses about how something might work (because we’re brilliant and we know our people and tools), we never really know how an idea will pan out once it’s live.
If your idea works, be prepared to share what you will continue to do and what new things you will try to keep up the success. If an idea “fails” (or produces a different outcome from what you expected), share what you think could’ve been done differently, what you learned and how you’re going to use those learnings to improve!
3. BE OPEN TO IDEAS
Likewise, make yourself open to feedback and ideas – and actively seek them out! One of the best ways to do this is to connect with stakeholders, decision-makers and even people outside of your team/function who have shown an interest in improving things. Let them know what you’re hoping to achieve and that you’d love their input.
You’ll get different perspectives on what’s working and what could be better. You might even be surprised at how much people notice about your work and how many great ideas you can get by opening yourself up to those “outside” of your immediate team. If you strike gold, run with it (go back to point #1) and be sure to acknowledge whoever gave you the brilliant idea.
4. SOLICIT (AND PRACTICE RECEIVING) FEEDBACK
Let’s face it: most of us suck at giving and receiving feedback. The only way to get better at feedback is to practice, so here are some quick tips when soliciting feedback:
- Know yourself, how you react to feedback and become more aware of it so you can control your response.
- Be specific about what you’d like feedback on, for example: the work, how you work, etc.
- Let people know how you best receive feedback. (Do you prefer email or phone call? In the moment or shortly after it occurs? Publicly or privately? Would you like a heads-up prior that someone has feedback to share or are you okay just digging in?)
- Document what works for you and share it with your team (and even better if you all share this with each other.
- Make it a practice. It’ll still be hard but it’s a little less scary to give and receive feedback when you can equip yourself with more information!
Being growth-minded, willing to learn, and open to other people’s feedback is how we can inch our workplaces towards modeling those popular yet elusive company values of “innovation,” “collaboration,” and “accountability.” Ultimately, feedback is an opportunity to improve your work and deliver even more value to your teams.
5. GET ON THE PLATFORM
In a perfect world, we’d all have regular opportunities to show our work’s value to the organization. If you’re not able to share your work with your company, you may need to build a platform for yourself!
Before joining Brilliant Ink, the goings-on of marketing were not visible to the rest of the team. Knowing that the team was lukewarm at best about marketing, I had to speak up (a few times) to finally get my moment in the sun and share the progress we were making. I was intentional about making that time meaningful. It wasn’t just about me and my work, it was about everyone’s contributions, what they accomplished, and what was next.
6. MAKE EVERYONE FEEL PART OF THE WINS
While, yes, we are kicking ass (and hauling ass in order to kick it), it’s important to acknowledge those who helped enable you to kick ass! It can be as simple as acknowledging everyone involved in the process with a personal thank you or public shout-out on Slack or Teams.
69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. So, if you can, find meaningful ways to show anyone involved the value of their contributions and showcase that value publicly.
For internal comms, consider how you might help others feel part of the wins. What are the ways you can acknowledge the contributions of leadership, managers, teams or individuals you worked with?
For marketing, one of my favorite ways to do this is by highlighting the “top content” and authors each month as part of my monthly marketing update. For example, one author may get recognized for capturing the “most views” that month while another is recognized for attracting the “most new readers.” We eventually took this a step further and have created quarterly and annual content awards with prizes (and bragging rights).
Giving out gold stars isn’t just to make people feel good. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that you know that people matter, their time matters and the work that you’re doing matters.
7. MAKE YOUR CASE (OVER AND OVER AGAIN)
Finally, you have to make your case for your value. As humans, we’re often drawn to the dramatic reveals and intrigue of splashy projects, major problems solved and the like. It’s not often you get recognized for quietly doing consistently good work. End that.
Show up, show off and show out for the brilliant work you’re doing and find ways to connect the dots to your organization’s goals. Using data is the best way to make your case and we have resources to help you b data stories to life and remind everyone of the value your work adds.
I hope at least one of these ideas encourages you to think, do and try different methods when approaching your work. And don’t wait! Try something new today, even if it’s a little something. Growth and transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taking a series of small steps and eventually looking back to realize how far you’ve come.