Could Your Boss’ Boss Describe What You Do?

by Sonya Sigler

Have you seen a colleague get promoted over you and wondered why? Or thought to yourself, ‘What are they doing that I’m not?’

The truth of the matter is that they know how to self-promote.

I know, we’ve all been given messages that self-promotion is bad, or it feels icky and profoundly uncomfortable. That means we don’t do it, or we avoid it, or if we attempt it, we do it awkwardly.

It’s up to you to make sure others, like your boss, colleagues, and those further up the chain of command, know what you are doing AND the value of what you are doing.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, because it’s a learnable skill), we must learn the art of self-promotion to rise higher in our career.

Self-promotion skills come naturally to some people and very unnaturally to most others. I know it is a skill I had to learn along the way.

Ask yourself “Who knows about your work? Does your boss know what you do?” I hear you asking, ‘WHAT?!? Of course my boss knows what I do!” They may know some of what you do, but they don’t know every little thing that you do. Nor do they know the value of everything you do.

It’s up to you to make sure others, like your boss, colleagues, and those further up the chain of command, know what you are doing AND the value of what you are doing.

Who knows about your work and your top skills to make this work possible?

Stop for a minute and think about this. If you asked your boss or colleagues what your top skills are, would it match what you think your top skills are?

I know one of my top skills is to start something from nothing. One CEO I worked for said, ‘yes, you are perfect for early-stage startups because you see something that needs to be done and you do it, even if it isn’t something you have done before.’ Yes, I have the ‘figure it out’ gene. This is a valuable skill to founders who are starting companies.

Talking about this top skill to others and the work that it entails is the art of self-promotion. We must do this minimum level of self-promotion to be noticed. AND to be noticed at the right time – when raises and promotions are being made, when new positions open up. You want to be considered. You want to be in the running! You want to be mentioned for these when you are not in the room.

How does this happen? People have to know about you and your work – not in an arrogant, bragging kind of way, but in a factual, impactful kind of way.

Another way to think about this is to answer the question – what is the impact of your work?

Nora Boghossian, of Estrin Legal Staffing, writes about the impact of her sharing best practices she learned at a conference with others at her firm. Read her article: Adding Value to the Firm – Are You in or Out?

As you look at your impact — Do you save the company money, do you document processes which cuts down the time it takes to train new employees, do you make operations more efficient? What exactly is the impact of your work?

Can you clearly articulate this value to others?

It takes practice. But it needs to be done. One of the ways you can gauge the effectiveness of your self-promotion skills is to answer the question – could my boss’ boss describe what I do? If the answer is yes, then you are a doing a good job on sharing your value. If not, you may have some work to do on the self-promotion front.

About Sonya L Sigler

Executive Leadership Coach | Business Strategy Consultant| Legal & Operations Executive | Speaker & Writer | Organizer of Chaos | Philanthropist

Sonya is in the confidence building business and loves to help women break through the glass ceiling! She works with highly motivated professional women (and enlightened, progressive men) who feel stuck, uncertain, or frustrated in their career. She empowers them to find a job they love that is balanced and aligned with their work-life vision. It took her many years to learn to do this and now she helps others design and live their balanced life.