How to take credit for your work when it feels boastful to do so

How to take credit for your work when it feels boastful to do so

Imagine you are suffering from a lack of visibility at work. Your boss tells you that you need to let people know the value you are adding. You need to “raise your profile and build a brand” with other stakeholders. The problem is, in order to do that, you need to draw attention to the good work you are doing. And this makes you feel icky. No one likes a braggart, and you don't like to boast. Tough situation. And you are not alone. 

One of my clients James was a talented analyst. He often spent long hours pouring over client data to come up with critical insights for the department. He worked alongside 4 other analysts in the team, most of which weren’t nearly as productive or insightful as James. The team often got compliments for their work, but it was always for the reports that James produced. He wanted to be able to let people know which reports he was responsible for without sounding like he was bragging or putting down the work of the others.  

This situation is very common. How can we create visibility around the work we do, and the goals we achieve, without feeling like taking credit for our part is taking credit away from others. 

Try this simple tip: 

When you receive praise for collective work that is actually yours, use the technique of ‘Claim and Redirect’. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Compliment – “Great job. Your team delivered an outstanding new procurement assessment tool. It has saved us a considerable amount of time and money already.”  
  • Claim – “That’s great to hear. It was actually me who worked on that project…” 
  • Redirect – “and I’m so glad to hear it’s providing value. I worked really hard on one particular algorithm. It almost had me stumped, but I managed to work it out and learnt a new calculation parameter in the process. So I was glad to work on the project.” 

Essentially, what this technique allows you to do is make others aware that you did the work, by pointing out the benefit you gained, or the lesson’s you learnt, whilst working on that activity. This redirects the conversation from simply claiming credit to big note yourself, towards claiming credit because you got to share something of value that you gained from the process. You, claiming the credit, was simply in service of being able to share something else about your experience of the project.  

So remember, receive the compliment, claim the credit, and redirect the conversation. 

Try it out. Let me know how you go. 

'Til next time