Four Solutions If You’re Feeling Overworked and Underappreciated at Work

“Phrases like ‘overworked and underpaid’ perpetuate that feeling.” ~ Lena Bottos ~

Steven put in extra-long hours on the project at work. It was highly technical and exceptionally difficult. When he was done, his boss offered no praise and Steven found himself feeling totally underappreciated.

He felt upset and bitter. How could they not appreciate all the work he was doing? He fumed for a few days. Then he stopped to figure out how he could get back on even keel. He really liked the kind work he was doing. He needed to find ways to be happy again.

Steven started working on a list. What could he control?

  • Enjoyment of work. Steven decided he could focus on his enjoyment of the work and the satisfaction it brought him. He could savor the tough solution to the problem and acknowledge that he did a great job. Even if others didn’t see it, it didn’t diminish his work.
  • Praise yourself. Write down what you accomplished each day. Tell yourself you did a good job. Even say it out loud, “That was GOOD work!”
  • Reward yourself. Steven decided that after each project he accomplished, he would reward himself with a nice dinner out or an extra round of golf.
  • Expect less. In truth, people seldom get praised for doing the job they are supposed to do. Bosses are busy. Getting paid and lack of criticism are implicit signs you are doing a good job.

As Steven worked on these tasks, it seemed to help a little, but he still felt overworked and underappreciated at work.

He talked to a friend to get more suggestions. His mentor asked a deep question. “How long have you felt this way? Is it the job, or have you felt undervalued for a long time?” Steven through back to the last jobs he’d had. Yes, it was a common problem.

His friend suggested this deep-seeded feeling could come from childhood rejection or lack of validation long ago. The friend suggested journaling to reveal the source and work to overcome it. Steven also considered counseling to quickly overcome this and move forward.

The counselor talked about “love languages” and suggested there are “appreciation languages” as well. “What does appreciation look like to you?” he asked. The boss may send a “Good job” email, but if you expect a promotion or public accolades, you may still feel underappreciated.

Steven decided to talk to his boss about the kind of validation he was looking for. At the same time, he worked to make it clearer to his boss exactly what he was doing. He realized the boss could not show appreciation if he didn’t understand exactly what Steven was doing.

Finally, Steven decided that if he valued appreciation he should extend it to others as well. He made a plan to praise his co-workers for the good work they were doing. Then, he decided even those below him and his boss were pretty overworked and deserved praise as well.

He found that when he praised others he felt better. He also noticed they seemed quicker to offer affirmation to the work he was doing. Three months later Steven looked back. He realized he no longer felt overworked and underappreciated at work. These seven solutions had helped him feel more valued and more included. His enjoyment at work had increased.

If you are struggling with feelings of overwork or being underappreciated contact Joel for executive coaching. He can guide you in further ways to get the recognition you deserve.

Talkback:
What have you done when you’ve felt over worked and underappreciated?

3 ways to self-promote without self-promoting

“Heroes must see to their own fame. No one else will.”
~ Gore Vidal ~

Nathan felt it was time to raise his visibility. He knew he needed this just to keep his job in a tight market. He especially needed to get recognition if he hoped to advance. But no one likes a show-off or a know-it-all. So Nathan struggled with how to accomplish good self-promotion in the workplace without coming off in a negative way?

He decided to use three simple ways to let other in the workplace know of his good work. It’s self-promotion without sounding like your tooting your own horn.

  1. Share your accomplishments
  2. You’d love to have your work speak for itself. After all, it’s good work. But merit is determined by people— by human judgement. That’s a blend of information, viewpoint, and emotional filters. In order for the person who determines merit to appreciate your work, several things have to happen, including sharing of your accomplishments.

    • They have to know about the work.
    • They have to know that YOU did the work
    • They have to understand the time, effort, intelligence, and skills it took to accomplish the job
    • They need to see how it benefits the company

    They can’t get all this by osmosis. Someone needs to at least get them the “Cliff’s Notes” of your involvement in the job. You can do that several ways

    • Send a brief report to your boss or the influencer about the job. It could be in the form of a question. “I did this, and this and this…am I on track? What would you like next?”
    • Ask a mentor or senior in your organization to publically or privately pass on recognition of your accomplishments.
    • Request a co-worker write a letter of recommendation about your efforts on the task.
  3. Make your competence visible
  4. Nathan read that studies show it’s not the most competent that gets promoted, it’s the most visible. No one likes a boss that is less competent than they are. It’s not good for you or for the company. In self-defense, Nathan needs to have his competence shine. Decision makers need to know of your abilities.

    • Speak up in meetings
    • Offer to present material
    • Check with your boss or others and share what you are working on
    • Come to your review process prepared to show and explain your part in the work and in strengthening the company’s bottom line
  5. Educate others on your value

When you promote others, you often promote yourself as well. Nathan has been producing excellent results for his company. But he had not done a very good job of self-promotion. He hadn’t been sharing wins and accomplishments in his workplace.

He decided to write an email that outlined five specific things his team had done in the past month. He made sure each point had measurable results. He said, “I’m very proud of the work this team has done and wanted to take a moment to highlight their accomplishments.”

Notice it does not look like self-promotion since Nathan is giving accolades to his team. Yet it still reflects well on him.

The CTO wrote back, “Thanks for pointing this out and congratulations to the team. The quiet success of these accomplishments from you and your team has not gone unnoticed. The CEO and senior leadership were much appreciative.” He encouraged Nathan to keep them informed about their work and the value they bring. The CTO recognized that sometimes work that goes well goes unnoticed, yet, he said, “It is important we educate the business on the value we bring.”

Self-promotion, well done, can build your visibility and lead to advancement. It helps management do a better job of recognizing who are their truly skilled workers. It also helped Nathan feel more valued and gain more satisfaction from his job.

If you need to increase your visibility and promote yourself in your workplace, first evaluate your visibility.

Talkback:
What have you done for self-promotion? Has it worked? Has it come off brash, or confident?

6 Books Leaders Read to Become Stand-out Leaders

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Damion’s goal was to become a great leader. He’d been under some mediocre leaders and wanted to do a better job than that. He looked at other leaders in the company and got some ideas of leadership skills from them.

But he felt there was more than what he was seeing. He wanted both the “why” and the “how” to become an outstanding leader. So he started reading. If you want to help yourself become a better leader, books are an excellent resource.

Damion’s created a list of leadership books that had the greatest impact on his career success. Damion offered to share them with you so you, too, could become a stand-out leader.

  • On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. Forbes magazine called Warren Bennis “the dean of leadership gurus.” This thought leader book resonated with Damion because Bennis affirms that leaders aren’t born, they are made. He lays out how to release the leader within us. He offers a valuable list of leadership attributes.
  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John Maxwell. Damion said, “This legacy leader book left me inspired. His examples of great leaders helped me grasp the intangibles of leadership and helped me see behind the scenes of outstanding leadership in action.” Then he distills these traits into his laws of leadership.
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. Damion wanted to see some changes in his company culture. Gladwell’s book gave him great insight into how to use the connectors, mavens, and salesmen within the company to make those changes. It also showed how important it is to stop a problem early on before it gets to the tipping point.
  • First, Break All the Rules (1999), by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. This book cuts through the theories and tells what leaders actually DO. Do successful leaders live by the rules? No. Gallup polls helped Damion understand the value of management along with leadership.
  • Getting Ahead by Joel Garfinkle. Damion started out as a “do-great-work-and-it-speaks-for-itself” kind of guy. Garfinkle’s book helped him see that his work would never speak loud enough. Advancement involves getting others to see you and your work in a positive light. What’s more, we can control how others think of us, how we are viewed, and how we influence. Powerful stuff.
  • How to be a Great Boss by Joel Garfinkle. Promotion doesn’t automatically confer leadership ability. This e-book talks about 7 key qualities of a good boss— from an employee’s point of view. What makes you the kind of leader employees want to work with? Garfinkle helped Damion see places to improve.

Damion found that reading books on and about leadership improved his confidence and the quality of his work. It gave him access to the brightest minds and a broad world of ideas and techniques. Then he pulled out the ones that best fit with his situation, his abilities and his personality and added them to his set of skills. There are many tools to help you grow as a leader. Books are one of the easiest and least expensive leadership development tools.

If you’re ready to step up your leadership skills to the next level and see major results, contact executive coach Joel. He can help move you forward faster.

Talkback:
What books have you read that have had an impact on your job and your leadership skills?

Four Effective Habits to Combat Demotivatiors at Work

“There is no[thing] better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” ~Malcolm X~

When Stacy started work, she found it exciting and rewarding. She felt she was moving up and making a difference. But lately, when she walks in the door at work she feels drained and unenthusiastic.

A few weeks ago, Stacy decided to face this frustration. What was going on at work that created a feeling of DE-motivation? What was causing her to be less satisfied with her job and less willing to dig in and get the work done?

She decided to list her concerns and then figure out what to do about it. At the end of the week, Stacy’s list of demotivators at work looked like this:

  1. Micromanagement. When she first started work, she needed some extra help. But now that she was confident in her work, the micromanaging seemed interfering. It made her feel like the boss didn’t trust her.
     
    Solution: Before a project starts, Stacy will talk to the boss about the expected standards and the basic approach. She’ll understand the guiding principles the boss wants to see in the job.

    Stacy knows her boss is a worrier and stresses. So she decides to really work on building trust with excellent work. Also, she’ll try to control the conversation by initiating frequent progress reports to help him see that the work is progressing smoothly. Be detailed and specific. If she has questions, she’ll ask for clarification quickly.

  2. Slow Progress. Stacy had moved from a small company to a larger one. There are so many more layers of management here that it seems to take forever for decisions to be made. She’s suggested some real cost saving initiatives… but nothing seems to happen.
     
    Solution:
    Stacy decides to more closely align her goals with the company goals. She decides to talk with her boss about what is most important in the company’s eyes for her to accomplish. Perhaps what she thinks is important isn’t exactly on target.She also decides to focus on what she can control and do excellent work there, while she waits for progress on some of her ideas.
  3. Rewarding poor performance. Stacy still smarted from a slight from last week. She’d worked overtime on a project why Ernie had been on vacation. Yet in the meeting where the project was presented, Ernie got the praise. Talk about a demotivator!
     
    Solution: Stacy decided to make sure she was the presenter on projects she had major input on. She would prepare comments and speak up more at meetings to make sure people were aware of her contribution. If necessary, she would schedule face-time with the boss on a regular basis to keep him informed on her work.
  4. No connection with co-workers. Stacy had been close to her co-workers at her last job. Here, she felt a bit excluded. She really didn’t have any good friends at work. In fact, she didn’t know much about them at all.
     
    Solution: Stacy decided she needed to reach out and connect on a more personal level. She needed to get to know about her co-workers—their families, hobbies, and interests. She decided to start inviting them out to lunch one-on-one and showing interested in them as a person and not just as a co-worker.

Stacy was surprised to find four things that led to her demotivation at work. But once she made a game plan, she felt excitement come back into her day. Now she had control and could make her plan work. And it wasn’t a surprise to her that after a few more weeks, she had friends among her coworkers, her boss was micromanaging less, and she felt like her performance was accurately recognized. As for the layer of management that made progress slow? She discovered a mentor could also help cut through some of the red tape!

If you have a motivation problem at work executive coach Joel Garfinkle can work with you to find solutions.

Talkback:
Do you ever feel burned out or demotivated? What causes your demotivation? And what have you done about it?

Four Motivational Phrases Used by Top Leaders Every Day

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

 

Caleb, a manager in his workplace, often found himself fumbling for words. He wanted to learn how to make the most of his daily interactions with employees, even the brief ones. He reached out to several mentors in leadership positions. “What are the most important things you say to your employees?” he asked.

Strong leaders use phrases that give employees a powerful motivational boost, his mentors said. These phrases aren’t just sprinkled into a conversation. Rather, they often guide the direction of a conversation by opening a space for authentic sharing of ideas and appreciation. These five phrases are the building blocks to positive relationships based on strong communication, Caleb’s mentors told him.

  • “You have what it takes.” It’s crucial to let people know you believe in them. They need to feel confident in their abilities in order to fully apply themselves. Find ways each day to express your confidence in people. Encourage them to take risks when you believe they’re likely to succeed, and to tackle ambitious projects.
  • “How does that work?”This phrase resounds with humbleness, as well as the self-assurance to admit that you don’t know everything. As a leader, it’s vital to recognize that everyone possesses specific expertise and a distinct perspective. Knowing when to encourage them to share their expertise is an important skill for a leader. This is a good phrase to use in a meeting with more reserved team members who don’t normally boast about their knowledge. When you know they can explain something well that others will benefit from knowing, give them a confidence boost by asking this question.
  • “I’m impressed.” This is one of the most important phrases used by leaders. When you take notice of others’ skills or contributions, let them know. Be specific about what you admire about their talents and efforts. Sharing your appreciation will encourage them to continue making a strong effort in the future. Use this phrase in front of other employees or higher-ups so that others will take notice as well, making this simple phrase an even bigger motivation booster.
  • “What do you need?” Asking what employees need in order to carry out their work effectively shows you want to be supportive of their efforts. It also reveals a high level of confidence in others. Rather than micromanaging how their work should be carried out, you’re viewing them as the expert in how it should be done. A strong leader has the ability to play a supportive role by asking this question and following through. Posing this question in a more general way—in terms of how the workplace or job conditions could better meet employees’ needs—may help reveal broader areas of need, such as help with stress management or budgeting time.
  • “What is your vision?” Likewise, this question shows that you value the ideas of others. You want them to feel invested in their work. And you know they’ll feel much more invested if they play a strong role in designing their own work performance goals. During one-on-one meetings, you should also ask them about their vision for their career and how they plan to work toward it over the next several years. This will show that you care about their career goals and will help you prepare talented team members for advancement.

Leaders who use these phrases are positioning themselves for advancement by improving employees’ job satisfaction and getting the most of their people. “Write down these phrases and keep them somewhere handy, on your desk or wall,” one mentor told Caleb. “Make sure they’re in a spot where you’ll look at them often, so you’ll have a continual reminder to use them. You’ll soon use them without thinking about it, and it will feel more natural every day.”

Try using all four of these phrases over the next couple of days. Email Joel for more advice on making your people feel motivated to excel in their jobs.

Talkback:
Have you used these phrases with people you supervise? Do you have other favorite phrases for motivating people that you’d like to share?