Not all of your work accomplishments will be recognized, and it can be awkward trying to draw attention to those that went unnoticed.
But there’s a simple weekly exercise that can help you win more recognition in the workplace, even if you have an aversion to office politics, says Sevenshift CEO, McKinsey senior adviser, and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb.
Her new book, “How to Have a Good Day,” is a collection of career best practices she’s learned in her 16 years as a consultant.
She learned this particular exercise from someone she calls only Cristine, who had trouble transitioning from a career in small Brazilian tech startups to a global company with tens of thousands of employees.
Cristine said her new boss at this large firm told her that at such a big company she would need to work harder for recognition, and that she should do that by mentioning one good thing she had done recently any time she met someone senior.
Cristine developed a technique to make sure she always had a topic handy:
- Open a new spreadsheet. You’ll be updating this weekly.
- Block time at 5:00 p.m. every Friday afternoon — which is usually “dead time,” Cristine noted, as everyone wraps up before the weekend. Cristine blocks a full half hour in her schedule so that she doesn’t rush herself, but it usually takes her five minutes.
- Write down your biggest work achievement of that week. “As I’m doing it, I think about which person might be interested in hearing each example,” Cristine said.
She found that the exercise served a dual purpose as a resource for performance-review preparation. Instead of struggling to remember the highlights of the past 12 months, she only needed to check her spreadsheet.
As for bringing up these accomplishments in casual conversation, Cristine said she initially forced them before realizing she could relax. Then it “quickly became natural to say, ‘Oh, you might be interested to hear that a great opportunity has emerged from a conversation I had with so-and-so last week,'” she told Webb. “It’s more interesting than the usual small talk, and it turned out not to feel like a ‘hard sell’ at all.”
She told Webb it’s paid off. “I have earned the respect of people who wouldn’t even have heard of me before,” Cristine said. “I feel like I’m building a personal brand, one that delivers results. Now it feels second nature to me. And my boss has even adopted my Friday afternoon process from me.”