A recent national survey of NHS staff revealed a worryingly high proportion felt undervalued. Managers are often accused of being quick to blame and slow to praise. All too often the first time you hear your manager publicly praise you is at your leaving drinks. Employees say if managers just said “thank you” once in a while they would feel less taken for granted.
I once worked for a chief executive who really took this on board. I regularly received a personal thank you note acknowledging my helpful contribution to a meeting or my stimulating presentation in a workshop. My initial pleasure and feelings of appreciation were short lived once I realised everyone else who attended the meeting or made a presentation received a similar thank you note, not only that but it soon became clear that this was standard practice after every workshop or away day.
The idea was good but it had become devalued with indiscriminate use. It would have been much more effective simply to take individuals aside and thank them for their contribution and save the personal thank you note for something special.
Whilst we all want to be appreciated for what we do, we also need to recognise this is a job and we are paid to do it. We do however expect some acknowledgement that the caring business operates on a lot of good will.
We rely on people being prepared to stay after their shift has officially finished to see something through or the willingness of people to change shifts at short notice to cover for colleagues. Team work requires people to be prepared to muck in and help out as opposed to saying “it’s not my job”, and we need people who will take responsibility rather than leaving it to someone else.
Positive feedback from our boss or colleagues will make us feel valued so how can we ensure we get our fair share?
Part of the secret of how to get noticed at work is presentation and professionalism. How you look will determine whether you’re treated seriously. I once worked with an ambitious and able PCT chief executive who insisted on wearing low cut tops and short skirts. A female chief executive, of course.
She considered her dress part of expressing her individuality, but this coupled with the fact that her office was full of wobbly towers of files precariously balanced on filing cabinets and chairs, thus totally obscuring her desk and most of the floor space, gave the impression of someone who was at best eccentric and at worst not on top of things.
Being professional includes preparing well for meetings so that you can make lots of useful and considered comments and suggestions as opposed to scanning the papers for the meeting whilst the chair is doing the introductions. If you want to be noticed you need to put yourself forward for some tasks as opposed to trying to avoid the chair’s eye contact at this point in the meeting.
Your boss and colleagues will value you more if they think you are the type of person who will help them.
But how will people know what you have done if you don’t tell them? It is unrealistic to expect your boss or your colleagues to keep up with what you have been doing as they are all just as busy doing their own jobs. Don’t leave it until your annual appraisal to list everything you have been doing over the past twelve months, this just comes over as someone who is trying to prove they have been working hard.
Instead find opportunities during informal conversations to let others know what you have been up to. This is not about telling people how great you are, it is about letting people know what you are doing, particularly how you are trying to influence others on issues that affect the team. This might be your work with HR, finance or partner agencies.
It is also the perfect opportunity to praise others - and if you note their successes, soon they note yours, too.