The first rule of career advancement is simple: Make those around you feel great, lift them up, and help them succeed. But while this sounds straightforward enough, it’s easier said than done. While you’re busy elevating and shining the spotlight on others, how can you keep your own contributions from going unappreciated? And in a dog-eat-dog world, if you don’t fight for the credit you deserve, who will?
Here are a few simple moves you can bring to the workplace that will help you push others onto center stage without becoming a lifelong second-chair fiddler.
- Relax and don’t worry about it. In a two-way contest between yourself and someone else, don’t get anxious over who gets credit for which parts of a project—at least not on the surface. And don’t split hairs over who actually came up with the winning idea, especially if you’re sure it was you. A calm, generous, expansive attitude will earn ten times as many points as an anxious, tense exchange, and will reflect far better on both participants.
- In a team situation, actively shine the credit spotlight on lower-level players and shy contributors. While the louder, grabbier types may resent your redirection of the applause, those who actually deserve it will thank you with their whole hearts. And remember, what goes around comes around.
- Remember that managers like to see teamwork and harmony among their employees. This is more pleasing and inspirational than the sight of a quarreling team driven by backbiting and mistrust, especially in the eyes of those who feel responsible for the team’s direction and cohesion. Parents like to see their children getting along, because it makes them feel like good parents. Bosses have the same feeling about their direct reports.
- At the same time, if you give someone an inch and they take a mile, don’t let this go unnoticed. If you realize that someone on your team is consistently taking advantage of your kindness and team spirit, have a private, direct conversation with them about it. Hopefully this will put an end to the issue.
- Before you accept any praise, award, or good fortune, thank those who contributed to your success. Recognize that none of our accomplishments ever happen in a vacuum; no matter what great things you’ve done, you haven’t done them by yourself. Search actively for people to thank whenever something good comes your way.
- Never call anyone out or criticize them in public. There are almost no exceptions to this rule. No matter how terribly your boss behaves during a project or how poorly he handles planning and resources, don’t say this to him in front of other people. By the same token, when a team member doesn’t pull his or her weight, talk to her about the problem behind closed doors only.
- Make an active effort to notice people’s positive traits—not just the work they’re doing, but the appealing aspects of their personalities. Mention your observations often and publicly. Let your team members see the positive traits in each other that you see.
Be Generous & Calm
Never let the distribution of credit make you hostile, tense, or chronically unhappy. Stay generous and open and maintain your emotional control. If you find it difficult to do this, or you get thrown under the bus every time you let your guard down, it may be time to find a new workplace where your skills and hard work will be appreciated. If you’re always fighting battles you can’t seem to win, visit MyPerfectResume, polish up your credentials, and start exploring your other options.