Your Achievements Matter:

How to Authentically Speak About Your Success!

The only thing standing in your way, of making the impact you want in your career, is You!

What is your first thought when you read that sentence?

I was working in a large HR Team, and I was not being promoted as fast as I wanted to be, or more importantly, felt that I should be. I wrongly believed that my hard work, consistency to deliver projects and key achievements would get me noticed. But unfortunately, it didn’t.

My manager had a very demanding role and after some time I realised that she didn’t have time to acknowledge the impact I was having with my Business Leaders. She did not recognise that I was developing my skillset and experience in being an HR Business Partner and that unless I found a way to tell her she never would.

Equally as important, I realised that she would never know what my career aspirations were if I could not find a way to articulate them to her. My annual performance was too little and too late, and I was too impatient.

In her book ‘How Women Rise’ Sally Helgesen identifies the second habit of ‘Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions’. I too realised I was guilty of this habit; I expected my manager just to notice my achievements and therefore promote me.

It is because of my own experiences that I am passionate about helping you to recognise how important it is for you to take a proactive approach in articulating your achievements. Likewise, being overlooked for promotion may result in feelings of frustration and resentment, especially if you know that you are as good if not better than a colleague who has been promoted. Ultimately, these negative emotions will have an impact on you both personally and professionally.

Not talking about your achievements means you are waiting and hoping for someone else to notice how hard or smart you work and that they will hopefully act on it. Unfortunately, in today’s global, virtual work environment this will never happen.

Why do women often find it so hard to talk about their success?

Women are often hardwired from childhood to be quiet, submissive and understated. As we grow older and try to change this narrative, these behaviours can go to the other extreme and create a different beast of arrogance, bossy and demanding.

However, talking about your achievements does not necessarily equate to bragging or being a narcissist. You can find a way to be comfortable and authentically self-promote your achievements, you just need to understand how to do it.

Four Positive ways to speak about your achievements

Be clear, direct and attention-holding

And yes, sometimes that means the double duty of being competent and likeable, confident and warm, and competitive and friendly. But by incorporating the nuances of corporate politics into your skillset, you can set the tone of the engagement while creating a platform to showcase your accomplishments.

Body language lends to this concept in a subtle yet not so subtle way. By appearing approachable with both posture and facial expressions, you can cultivate a positive listening environment, so that the audience absorbs the information you are presenting without feeling talked at or disingenuous.

Be aware of your posture, remember Amy Cuddy, (check her out on YouTube if you have not watched her TedTalk). Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions, by changing our body positions. Helping us to understand how we can speak more clearly and authentically when we own our body pose, which is a powerful form of self-awareness.

Language, whether written or spoken, can play a relevant part in the self-advocacy required as a professional woman. When speaking about your accomplishments, intermix the use of ‘I’ with ‘us’ and ‘we’, with a focus on how these talents relate to the company’s overall objectives. By finding a balance between self-advocacy and team building, you will not only show your range of talents but also advance the narrative as a positive potential team member.

Speak clearly and simply and try to say what you mean. If you think you may have trouble saying something you need to say, write it out or record it and practise saying it. Make sure your voice matches what you want to say. If you need to learn how to sound confident, in my early career I joined Toastmasters which was invaluable in helping me not to mumble, speak too fast or sound as if I was joking when in fact my message was very serious.

Finally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge a task that took time and was hard work. Say, ‘I worked really hard to make this happen.’ Listeners will respect your triumphs when they know you have put in a lot of effort.

Give yourself Permission

The difference between a male leader and a female leader in a meeting can be vast. The reason being is that there are certain expectations ingrained in both men and women. Women who internalise the societal role of a ‘stereotypical woman’ can find talking about their success difficult as they are concerned about coming off as arrogant or ‘big headed’.

However, by giving yourself permission to own your success, you can present and reinforce the idea that you are not only talented in your field and position, but your accomplishments are evidence of your unspoken potential.

Being confident in your ability, owning what you have achieved and giving yourself permission to self-promote in a genuine manner, will allow your colleagues to see you beyond stereotypical societal limitations.

By overcoming the gender biases implicit in the workplace, women can excel. Once they give themselves the permission their male counterparts never have to consider. Your accomplishments were earned by hard work and ingenuity, teamwork and individual growth, and you deserve to not only acknowledge them but use them to help further your career goals.

Set yourself apart

In today’s environment, you must be able to set yourself apart, consistent and hard work will not be enough to move your career forward. You need to be noticed for your efforts and perceived as more than a reliable team player. Professional leaders are proactive, resourceful, innovative, and most importantly, they stand out.

Whether it’s a specific skill, a unique insight into the company or an existing process, this speciality displays your ability to bring something unique and valuable to the discussion. And while this speciality may change dependent on the situation, the opportunity almost always exists to present an outlook or insight unique to you.

Be proud of the facts and use metrics to prove your success. So rather than saying, I’m an excellent manager,’ say, ‘Since I took over, retention rates have improved.’ Let your listeners interpret the fact. If they conclude that You are an excellent manager or rock star leader on their own, you’ll still come across as humble.

Own your success!

To own your success, you need to trust in yourself.

Believe that you are capable of success — no matter what you are faced with! You can do this! Be reminded that the days of not owning your hard work, being demure and quiet in the workplace are over.

When you are comfortable with who you are and what you have achieved, you will feel worthy of your success, which will help you feel less self-conscience when talking about your accomplishments.

You are a powerhouse, time to remind the rest of your organisation of that!

What one change do you need to make this week to ‘Own your Success’!? at work.

I would love to hear from you, please email me back and let me know how you get on.

Wishing you a day full of Clarity and Confidence.

Susan

PS. If you want to see yourself as a trusted Senior HR Leader with a point of view that is respected and sought out but you are not there yet and if you have not already done so, you can complete an interactive Senior HR Career Success Wheel Assessment HERE.

Once you have completed the assessment wheel and you have a visual insight of where you are right now, book a complimentary Success Mapping Session with me to discuss your next steps so you can create greater success in your HR Career and be seen as a HR Trusted Adviser.

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Susan Manning

Leadership Consultant and Clarity Coach — Providing essential CLARITY for greater effectiveness in a chaotic world. www.susanmanning.ie