Are you feeling undervalued at work?Aug 13, 2021
I once had a boss tell me she tries to praise people as much as she can, as often as she can because so much of what they do is done without any thanks. I remember this like it was yesterday because I recognized how important it was in the moment. Now, after talking to hundreds of people about their work, I see how right she was.
Most of us will never say so but we want to feel appreciated and be acknowledged for our work. The problem is that we don’t often get that praise.
So, what do you do when you’re feeling undervalued at work?
Consider that it’s not possible, or even on your radar, to thank your direct reports and colleagues for all their work. So recognize that it’s not possible for your boss and colleagues to be aware of all of your activities and take the time to show their appreciation.
I’m sure you have a realistic expectation of the amount of praise you should receive. If you know you and your work aren’t being valued it could be time to consider looking for a new role. Not because you aren’t getting enough thank yous, but because if your boss doesn’t show appreciation or that they value your work, they’re unlikely to recommend you for promotions, raises and important projects.
If you’re not quite sure it requires a job search, you can bring it up with your boss.
But, how do you talk to your boss about feeling unappreciated?
Normally, I advocate for direct communication, but not in this case. It’s not going to look good to say to your boss, I’d like more praise from you. Instead, I recommend asking for feedback. Explain you’re trying to understand more about where you perform well, and where you need to improve.
After you get that information, explain to them your commitment to continuing to deliver well where you have been while improving in 1-2 of the areas they say need improvement. More than likely they’re going to show some form of appreciation for this. A simple that’s great! Maybe a thank you! Hopefully they will do more, but some managers won’t. After they give you this praise tell them, enthusiastically, how much you appreciate their support.
Go an extra step and send a follow up email. Outline your conversation, explain you understand that you do well with X and Y, and you will develop Z. Add something like, ...Once again, I’d like to thank you for your support. Knowing you appreciate my efforts means a lot to me. I’d like to follow up with you next quarter to understand how I’m doing with Z.
Your boss might learn that you’re motivated by their support and appreciation. But they might not. Whether or not they do, I recommend working on your own validation.
Here’s how you can validate yourself at work
Start to let go of waiting for praise from your boss. The disappointment eats up a lot of your energy. Put that energy toward validating yourself. Pause at the end of a project or challenging task. Acknowledge what you’ve done. Look for ways your skills have improved.
People are always looking for external validation. True happiness, at work and otherwise, comes from being able to be happy without it. So, create a practice of self-validation. After all, your opinion should be the one that matters most!
Most of us will deal with this at some point in our careers, so remember you’re not alone if you’re feeling unappreciated at work. I hope these tips will help you!
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