Imagine you have an opportunity to move up in your company. To your surprise, your boss gave the promotion to a much less qualified co-worker. My guess is you would feel disappointed—probably even frustrated.
Now imagine you discover that the opportunity never really existed, because your application was never given serious consideration. If you are the best kept secret in your organization, you might want to get used to this kind of abuse.
But What If I Don’t Like To Toot My Own Tuba?
Me either. In fact, I hate it. Do you work with people who constantly draw attention to how great they want you to think they are? Am I asking you to become a braggart? Of course not. Just don’t blend in. Let your brand shine, or become one of the ghost people at work.
Why It’s Not Your Boss’s Fault
Her brain isn’t wired to promote you. Here’s a quick pop quiz (modified from Max’s wonderful book):
The following 8 corporations were ranked by Fortune magazine to be among the 500 largest United States-based firms according to sales volume for 2007:
a. Apple, Black & Decker, McGraw Hill, Owens Corning, Bristol-Meyers-Squibb
b. American International Group, McKesson, Publix, Plains All-American
Which group of five organizations listed (A or B) had the larger total sales volume?
Most people incorrectly choose A. Why?
When making decisions the human brain is wired to make mistakes in very predictable ways. We choose “A” because we hear, read, and see more about Apple Computer than McKesson. We choose motor vehicle accidents for the same reason. Yet each year about twice as many people die of stomach cancer than car wrecks.
Is Your Career Like a Car Wreck?
So what does all this have to do with your career? In the words of my two kids, “mucho”. We tend to give greater weight to those things we can recall easily. That’s why your boss grimaces when you leave work an hour before she does. She wasn’t around when you got to work (two hours before her), so it’s much easier for her to recall you leaving early. She saw you do it!
When it comes to promotions, don’t blend in. You want your boss to easily recall your positive traits. Standing out doesn’t necessarily mean bragging. Find a way to promote yourself that fits your personality, your strengths, and your company culture.
Or go ahead and make yourself comfortable in your cube. You aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.