18 Aug 2021 19:40 IST

Promoting yourself without turning people off

Three ways to communicate your valued contributions to the team in transactional WFH meetings

The pandemic has irrevocably disrupted our lives. Maybe a silver lining in this stressful period is that companies and people have started valuing work-life balance more than ever before. Many organisations have announced long-term work-from-home for specific roles, while many more have embraced the hybrid work model.

When we are in the office, we get to connect with people more. Our conversations tend to go beyond work, whether it is with our managers or our colleagues. When we have deeper connections with people; it is easier for us to share our achievements and even failures without fearing severe judgments. However, now that we are at home, connected through a screen, and our relations are becoming transactional. Any leader will tell you that to grow, building relationships are as crucial as building skills. The art of self-promotion has become crucial in today's work environment. And to do it right without putting off our colleagues, teams, and most importantly, the people responsible for our career growth is a skill by itself.

Here are a few ideas for how we can, and we must self-promote in today's work environment without the fear of alienating our colleagues and coming across as a braggart to our managers.

Share knowledge

When we share our knowledge, our skill, with not just our immediate team but with wider teams, we automatically start to establish ourselves as an authority on a subject. It also becomes easier for us to talk about it with our managers without appearing glib. Additionally, our managers will start taking notice of people approaching us frequently for a specific or set of problems and how we are solving those. Like the famous saying goes, when our work speaks for itself, don't interrupt. Add to it by sharing our gift, our skills, with others.

Prepare, prepare and prepare

In the book How to Lead  by David Rubenstein, James A Baker III, former secretary of state under US President George Bush, said, prior preparation prevents piss poor performance. For instance, suppose we have weekly or fortnightly meetings, like we all do, that our managers and other leadership team are part of, let’s come prepared. We must do our homework and prepare for those meetings.

We might only have a small window to share our ideas, so don't squander the chance. We can learn from our peers how ideas are presented and what kind of ideas get selected or rejected. Accordingly, make suggestions. And if these meetings are for sharing updates on our day-to-day work, then ensure that we don't focus on tactics but the idea. Why are we doing it, how will it benefit the organisation, our goals, and so on.

Build connections

We are robbed of the opportunities to connect at a personal level with our colleagues or managers over a short coffee break during WFH environments. When we are in the office, we share non-work-related developments even while walking in or out of meetings. Today, we log into a meeting just in time. Sometimes, without even exchanging courtesies, we start with our business or work updates.

We must make a conscious effort to build relationships and deepen our network. When we ask someone, what is going on in their lives, mean it. Listen to them. If possible, offer help, take over their tasks. We don't build strong connections through words alone, we need to do good deeds too. When we have appreciative managers and colleagues, we get to learn a lot of things, which can directly impact our growth.

We might choose to work-from-home or go for a hybrid model, but that shouldn't take away our opportunity to grow or make us feel excluded. We have to take responsibility for our careers and work toward building a fulfilling one. A smart employee knows and understands the importance of self-promoting because it will undoubtedly pay off in the longer run.

(The author is Lead, PR, of the data storage company Western Digital.)