A number of my clients have struggled with sharing their accomplishments in the workplace for fear of being regarded as arrogant but by not communicating are they stifling their careers?

In my early days as an HR professional, I was assigned a Mentor and one thing he said has stuck with me throughout my career. ‘Don’t think self-promotion, but self-preservation.’

Fast forward a couple of years and it had been a particularly challenging year at work. I had really stepped up and managed some high profile challenges well. My end of year performance review was fast approaching and I had high expectations that this would be the year that I would get the top performance rating available. Alas, this was not the case and when I shared my disappointment with my boss, her response was that if I didn’t communicate with her what I had achieved and the challenges I had overcome how could she take this information into consideration when giving me my evaluation.

In short, sharing details about your successes can be good for your career but you need to get the balance right and find a way of sharing that feels comfortable to you without coming across as egotistic. To avoid being that boastful brat, focus on how your experience can help others whether it’s solving a problem or inspiring them.

Here are my tips to avoid that label!

Be vulnerable. Sometimes we don’t like to share the problems we are facing for the fear of not seeming to be able to cope. We present this image of a swan gliding through the daily grind, when in fact we are paddling like mad underneath the water. But if you share the problems at the same time as you share your solution/results, you are demonstrating your resourcefulness and problem-solving competencies and most importantly you are being authentic, which is going to make people feel more comfortable and open to you.

It’s in our nature to help. By sharing something you have managed to do, implement or change you are helping others and being a team player. Therefore, to get comfortable with telling others, change the focus to be more about how you can help them. For example consider this sentence and how the tone is focused on support as opposed to how great you are ‘I was having this problem/challenge and took this action which has really helped my client/business/department in this way and wanted to share as I know many of you are in a similar position.’

Be selective about who you share what with. Choose your audience carefully think about who will benefit most from your insight (colleagues in a similar situation) and who should know about it (your manager). To avoid promotion of your work back firing and lacking credibility, make sure it’s something that has real value and is your work. Not someone else’s work that you are taking credit for.

Create a positive environment. We are very good at being self-critical (see my blog on negative voices) but not as good at acknowledging our accomplishments. Create an environment of recognition for your colleagues, tell someone when they’ve done a good job, you may have just made their day. Remember the last time someone told you well done, didn’t it feel great.

So next time you feel concerned that you will be perceived as that boastful brat by sharing something you have done, take a few moments to think about:

  • Who would benefit from knowing
  • Be authentic, share the problems and the positives
  • Be clear about your personal contribution
  • Acknowledge the contributions of others

Have you found yourself in this situation and have some advice to share?

Are you wanting to take that next career step, but don’t feel people are noticing you, a personal coaching session could help you put yourself on the fast track for success.