Don’t let the value of your work be measured by others, or the number of hours that you logged.
As a mentor to business professionals, I find that many are frustrated that peers and managers don’t recognize the true value of their contributions. These people expect their results have self-evident value, without requiring any effort on their part. I have long believed that you are responsible for documenting and communicating your value, without bragging or hyperbole.
For example, your work nurturing important customer relationships may be key to timely changes based on emerging trends, but these efforts are easily overlooked as a source of value at the end of a change process. Documenting your input early and following up later by quantifying customer revenue is your only way to make sure your value in the revenue growth process is not forgotten.
If you are feeling the pain of not being appreciated or rewarded for all the work you do, I like the steps suggested in a new book, Show the Value of What You Do, by Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack J. Phillips. These authors bring years of experience to the subject of value and ROI competency building from their consulting efforts with major companies around the world.
I like the examples they have included, and would like to add my insights to their recommendations for the implementation of a personal value process based on your situation and style, consisting of the following steps:
1. Clarify the impact you want from every project.
It’s up to you to think early about adding value, rather than just working on any project. I continue to be surprised at the number of professionals who just say yes to too many requests, without consideration for potential value to the business or themselves. Focus on return for every task you accept.
In understanding impact, it is important that you first understand the business mission and purpose. It’s hard to provide value in achieving any objective if you don’t know what the objective is. Try shifting your perspective to look at the big picture or poll leaders.
2. Pick the right solution to maximize the impact.
You need to understand the “why” of any project before you work on the solution. The easiest or quickest approach may not provide the value you need to be recognized. Look at the problem from the perspective of your business leaders and customers, who need to support your value and theirs later.
In all cases, you need to make sure you are solving the root cause problem, rather than just a symptom. I’m a big fan of the “five whys” approach, which is simply asking yourself and others “why” at least five times before concluding that you have the real problem.
3. Communicate the criteria for success early and often.
It is important to set the expectations for success early, as well as the appropriate metrics. This will allow others to know what they have to do, as well as your contribution, to make it happen and recognize the impact. Make sure there is an opportunity for win-win, with benefits for all.
In general, good communication with all relevant parties, without singing your praises, will always add value. Everyone appreciates feedback on progress to date, and what is needed in the future. If you are the hub of good information, your value is increased.
4. Demonstrate the evolution of success along the way.
This can best be done by collecting and capturing application and reaction data along the way and keeping everyone informed of progress. Remember that learning has value, and pivots are often required. Without your communication, these can be seen as negative values by others.
5. Provide evidence of ROI to maintain credibility.
When providing data results, credibility is a key concern. Use real data on costs and return on investment (ROI) rather than opinions and hyperbole. It is always good practice to recognize all the contributors to a project, as well as external influences. Your value is the evidence as well as the analysis.
6. Leverage the results for your maximum benefit.
Your goal is always to make the outcome better. If the project is successful, make it more successful. If it is not, change things to make it produce more value the next time, or make the next project better. Use the results to gain support, commitment, influence, and funding for related efforts.
What I have found is that a switch to value thinking creates a new mindset of starting with the end in mind, looking for impact and ROI, taking responsibility for quantifying your value, and taking action before someone asks. It just may be the incentive you need to take a hard look at the work you do and refocus your efforts on the work that can help you as well as the business.