Modesty is a virtue, or so they say. Modesty in the workplace is another thing entirely – here’s why.
Picture this – you create the best pitch or proposal or document or event or any business-related project to come out of your office in years. The CEO is smiling, and the top brass are all doing jigs around the boardroom. In your tiny cubicle, you bask in the glow of a job well done … and then nothing. Absolutely nothing. Or worse, maybe your manager or teammate gets a raise or a bonus, or the key to the corporate washroom while you languish in your cube wondering when you’ll have your moment in the sun.
Unless you’re a ghostwriter, you need to have your name on your work. Authors do. Architects do. Even exclusive jewelry designers create a secret stamp or symbol to show people that they’ve purchased something unique and of value.
Many of us are taught that same old trope about there being no I in team, but the reality is that if you’re trying to distinguish yourself at work, you really need to distinguish yourself at work. Simply doing a great job isn’t quite enough anymore. While no one loves a braggart, it’s important to always take credit for your best work- so that no one else does first.
“You can take credit for your work without being a glory hog,” said Karen Swim, president of Solo PR Pro. “Be proactive by documenting your ideas and sharing them with your boss or workgroup. Ask how you can build on the idea and/or best execute it. This way, you own the idea but are also being a team player.”
But what happens if you’re too uncomfortable to take credit for your huge and amazing accomplishment? Swim has a few ideas: “Taking credit for your work can feel uncomfortable for many people, but it’s critical to successfully managing your career.”
She also says that you should “share your ideas with the right people, and be gracious in taking credit.” And you don’t have to be obnoxious about it, acknowledging the rest of the team makes you look like more of a pro and reminds them that their work is crucial and appreciated. “Don’t be afraid to share the spotlight with your team,” she adds.
Then again, if the opposite happens and a colleague takes credit for your work, “Speak up! This can be handled with grace by saying something like, ‘I’m glad that you mentioned that. When I suggested this idea last week, my thoughts were this. … how would you like to build on that?’ ”
Keep practicing taking credit for your best work and soon it will be second nature to you.
But choose your battles wisely. If your manager is the point person on the team, don’t try to wrestle attention away from them. Instead, follow up with a written email (which lives on in perpetuity and makes your point for you). Thank them for the chance to work on the project and let them know how gratified you feel that your best work on specific example I, specific example II and of course specific example III allowed your entire team to shine.