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Getting the Credit You Deserve

By Sara Laschever
Co-author, ASK FOR IT and WOMEN DON'T ASK.

Great to be on the show today talking about ways for people to get credit for what they do—a huge issue in the workplace. As it happens, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is that THEY

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DON’T FEEL APPRECIATED FOR WHAT THEY DO (wanting more money is #2). So if you’re not getting the credit you deserve, you need to find the best way to ask for it. This is especially true for women, whose work is often overlooked when they’re part of a team; other team members (male members) usually get most of the credit. Here are nine tips to help:

1. First, figure out what you want. Will a simple ‘thank you’ be enough, or do you want a promotion and a raise? Do you want a letter inserted into your personnel file or would you like to be transferred to a more exciting/high profile/career-promoting project? Do you want an announcement made at a department meeting or a write-up in the company newsletter? And if you can’t get what you want most (the promotion AND the raise), what would be second best? What would feel good enough?

2. Next, do a little legwork. Find out how your boss likes to receive this type of request. Does he prefer to get a detailed email, or does he set aside an hour or two a week to meet with employees who have questions? Does she want you to make an appointment and announce what will be on the agenda? Do you need to ask at your review or not at all? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by taking an approach that’s bound to fail.

3. Prepare to make your case—why do you deserve what you want? Did you come up with a great idea recently? Have you taken the lead on a new initiative? Or did you pull off a big save in a crisis? Do customers consistently rave about you? Collect whatever documentation you need to back up your request.

4. Now, think about timing. You want to ask when your bargaining power is high—right after you’ve landed a big client, won an industry award, or received a favorable write-up in the local business press. Or, when one of your big clients is about to renew its contract and will only work with you. That’s a time when your boss will want to keep you happy.

5. Choose the right setting. Pick a place that doesn’t emphasize the power differential between you—with you sitting in a little chair and him behind a huge desk, for example. Better to sit side-by-side in a conference room or talk about it over lunch, if you can. Also, be sure to choose a place away from ringing phones, beeping email, and the interruptions of needy assistants.

6. Practice in advance if you’re nervous. Get together with a friend or colleague you trust and role-play the conversation. Plan calm responses in case your request prompts a negative reaction. (My book, ASK FOR IT, includes a lot of great examples of language you can use.)

7. Get in the mood. Moods carry over from one interaction to the next, so don’t go straight into your negotiation after having a fight with your teenager or wrangling with co-worker. Instead, if exercise relaxes you, go for a run before work and then ask while the endorphins are still flooding your system. Or meet some friends for lunch who make you laugh. Or dart out for a midday massage or yoga class.

8. Approach the negotiation with the idea that your boss is your ally not adversary. It’s in his or her interest to keep you happy if you’re a good worker. Rather than demand the recognition you want, ask his or her advice about how to get it. Say something like, “I’ve accomplished a lot this year and I’d like to get a sizable raise. Can you tell me what I need to do to make that happen?” Or, “I’ve been working hard and I’m ready to contribute more. How can I get my work recognized so I can position myself to move ahead?” Or, “I’ve been consistently exceeding my performance targets. How do I make sure that the powers-that-be know this?” The idea is to subtly shift your boss into the role of being your mentor, with a vested interest in your success.

9. Ask in a way that makes you seem likeable. This is REALLY important for women. As I said on the show, to be persuasive, to influence other people, women need to be perceived as likeable, as friendly and nice. (This is a research finding, not my opinion.) So don’t wear your power suit. Make warm eye contact. Use relaxed body language. Tell a joke if you’re good at it. (ASK FOR IT contains a lot of great sample language.) Use your social skills to come across as upbeat and good-natured, not tense and insistent. BUT, despite Donny’s advice this morning, I would caution AGAINST flirting. Way too risky for women. Funny and charming are great. But DON’T bat your eyes, don’t act kittenish, don’t talk in a little-girl voice or flatter in a disingenuous way. Just go a little easy on the interpersonal dynamics in the room and you should be able to go after the recognition you deserve without seeming threatening or pushy.

You deserve credit for what you’ve done. Go out and get it!

- Sara