What’s going on? You work so hard and show dedication, loyalty, and initiative but you don’t seem to get much recognition. You always go above and beyond your duties but haven’t been rewarded for it. You see others on campus who don’t work half as hard as you do (or at least that’s your perception) and yet, they get rewarded by the leadership team. You feel left out. Maybe even invisible and discouraged.
First, think about what you want to be known for. Interestingly, while the concept of having a personal brand has become mainstream, I meet very few higher ed administrators who have clarity on their own brand. I ask them what they want to be known for, and they need a few minutes to think about it.
You see, until I asked the question, they had never thought about how they were perceived and if it matched their self-identity. It is important for all administrators to gain clarity on these five areas.
1. What they want to be known for.
2. Whether their goals match what their institution actually wants.
3. How they define their personal brand.
4. What they have to do to earn that reputation.
5. What they have to stop doing because it is sabotaging their efforts.
For example, let’s say you want to be perceived as a team player. What do you actively, intentionally, and consistently do to position yourself as a team player? Is there anything you do that makes people not want to work with you?
You need to have the courage to become more self-aware. Don’t make yourself wrong but look for opportunities to be more congruent. If you are not perceived the way you think you should, you have the responsibility and power to change it.
Here are some patterns I see quite often. People have a goal in mind but their approach back-fires. The harder they try, the less valued they are. Their good intentions are poorly executed and they set themselves back.
Goal: Appear highly competent
What goes wrong: These people try too hard to sound competent and dominate conversations. They offer unsolicited advice and can sound condescending. They can’t let someone else have their moment. They need the spotlight on them at all times and don’t realize how destructive their behavior is to their professional relationships and career. They think they are adding to conversations by always having something to contribute but alienate others.
Goal: Create a happy workplace
What goes wrong: When someone is a pleaser and tries to make everyone happy, she is doomed. She keeps aiming at a moving target. Instead of making decisions based on what she knows is right, she is easily influenced by complainers and people with unreasonable expectations. Her team will be upset that she is not predictable because she makes exceptions for people and creates chaos. Her flexibility doesn’t make people feel cared for, but feel jealous of what others are getting. Vision and strategic planning seem obscure. It creates a climate of insecurity, injustice, and it discourages professionalism.
Goal: Demonstrate extreme loyalty
What goes wrong: Loyalty is good but when someone chronically puts their work above their own needs, and makes sure everyone hears about it, we end up with a martyr on the team and nobody wants that. The martyr is annoying because (1) he/she causes his/her own suffering and that’s misguided, not noble, (2) nobody wants to hear about their extreme sacrifices, (3) coworkers who sacrifice less may start doubting themselves, (4) expectations for others become unclear, and (5) the department’s culture suffers.
Goal: Demonstrate extreme dedication
What goes wrong: When someone is so dedicated that she says yes to everything but can’t possibly follow-through, she creates her own drama. She thinks she looks good because she always says yes, but in reality people are unhappy that she keeps dropping the ball, pushing deadlines, forgetting important things, and letting people down. The sad part is that she makes excuses for her inability to follow-through but in her heart and mind she is convinced that she has legitimate reasons. She believes she is doing her best and can’t do better. She doesn’t understand why she isn’t getting praise for her “can do” attitude. She fails to see her shortcomings and blames people and circumstances.
Goal: Prevent problems
What goes wrong: When someone has knowledge and experience and sees his role as protector of the institution, things can easily back-fire. That person is always thinking about what could go wrong and is resistant to change and innovation. He doesn’t want to do anything that isn’t already a proven success strategy. He becomes an obstacle for others and is perceived as negative, maybe even toxic. He also wastes a great deal of time and effort trying to prevent problems that don’t exist and aren’t likely to ever occur. He brings struggle to every project. It won’t take long for people to know to keep him away as much as possible.
Goal: Be known as knowledgeable and accurate
What goes wrong: People who want to be known as knowledgeable and accurate tend to put too much pressure on themselves. Their level of intensity often makes people uncomfortable. They tend to give too much importance to insignificant inaccuracies and people around them are afraid to get in trouble. They tend to be critical of themselves and others and their minds tend to look for what is wrong.
These people won’t be seen as strong leaders but bean-counter type administrators. It is important for them to understand that extreme accuracy is not what will get them noticed and rewarded. They need to develop their emotional intelligence and leadership skills, learn to work with others, and understand the bigger picture.
Alright, so I have given some extreme examples here to make my point clear. I don’t think you fall into these categories, but if you are not being appreciated and rewarded for your efforts, you need to understand why.
Do some journaling or at least write down some bullets on how you want to be perceived, what you need to do to earn that reputation, and what you need to stop doing to improve clarity and consistency.
At the very least, seek feedback from your supervisor. If possible, get a 360 evaluation. There is a strong possibility that you make efforts that aren’t valued and you are failing to see something that would be tremendously beneficial.
Once you know more about how you are perceived and what you want to do differently, you will feel empowered because you’ll get back a sense of control over your own destiny. Stop wondering why you aren’t being recognized or rewarded, and make things happen!
If you need help, don’t hesitate to schedule a complimentary call with me. We will discuss your goals and how I can help you reach them. Gaining self-awareness isn’t easy but with a coach, it is an empowering process. Looking forward to meeting you!
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit ThrivingInAdmin.com