Reimagine Everything: The Delicate Art of Bragging to Better Your Job

June 2, 2017 • AARP, Columnists

By Ron Mori and Kara Baskin for AARP

Our office is going through a major makeover, and in several months, the new open concept design will be my reality. Part of my new work life is flexible telecommuting options, as we have fewer offices and an open floor concept with huddle rooms. It’s also almost six months into 2017, so we all know that the midyear performance conversations need to take place. If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is pound your chest and tell your manager how good you’ve been. But, as a hard-working Sansei, it’s part of my DNA to let my work results speak for me. That’s not the best strategy, so I asked my colleague to expand and put into writing tips that we should consider.

— Ron Mori

When you work at home, you can’t just pop into your boss’ office with good news. A casual lunch meeting — with a few strategically placed nudges — won’t happen organically. No, when you work remotely, you might end up singing your praises to your coffeemaker or your cat.

I’ve telecommuted for nearly a decade, interviewing top career experts. Each year, I’ve grown my business (knock on wood). Part of this involves the delicate art of being visible, of bragging without seeming to. You want to tout your accomplishments to further your career — and you deserve it, like any other worker! — without seeming smarmy. I get it, and I counsel people about this diplomatic dance all the time. Here’s how to stay top of mind with your boss when you work at home.

Keep a written log of one triumph each day. You can weave it into future conversations with your boss.

  1. Daily: Jot down something you did that was awesome. It can be small. Maybe you nailed an email response to a snarly colleague, or maybe you sealed a huge deal. Doesn’t matter. Keep a written (or texted, or whatever works for you) log of one triumph each day. Review it at week’s end. You can weave it into future conversations with your boss, use it when you’re writing a self-evaluation for your performance review or just use it for a boost when you’re feeling down.
  2. Twice a week: Share news about your career on social media. Social media’s very nature is self-serving, so leverage this. Maybe you’re working with a dynamic new client who has a fantastic message to share. Maybe your company just signed a big deal that made the news. Done well, social media mixes thought leadership with quiet self-promotion. Maximize it. You needn’t crow about your latest raise or new tax bracket (actually, please don’t), but you can spread newsworthy items to enhance your image in a diplomatic, useful way.
  3. Weekly: Schedule recurring check-ins. If your boss or client doesn’t suggest it, you should initiate. This is a helpful organizational tool, but it’s also a built-in opportunity to discuss goals that you’ve accomplished in a natural, recurring setting.
  4. Biweekly: Share your knowledge with your supervisor. See an article, Tweet or juicy tidbit that your boss might care about? Share it! You’ll look like a team player, and you’ll also show your boss that you’re on top of current trends. Should you bombard him or her with “helpful” news every day? Of course not. Make a point to do this every couple of weeks, and fold in a tie-in to your company’s work in the note. This says: I get it. We’re on the same page — but I’m also independent enough to work hard without checking in.
  5. Monthly: Meet with people in your industry to swap news, gossip and, yes, brag a little. It helps to let colleagues know what you’re up to. Networking sustains your industry profile and can help you land new leads down the road. Whether it’s a regular coffee date with a mentor or a formal networking dinner with an industry group, show your face and share your experiences. You never know when it will pay off.
  6. Yearly: Get brutally honest about your finances and happiness. Not in a rote, going-through-the-motions annual review way, but in a soul-searching way. Are you getting paid enough? Do you feel recognized for your efforts in whatever way matters to you — whether it’s money, title or fulfillment? Has the past year been meaningful and nourishing? Think about it. Then, refer back to that log you’ve kept of your accomplishments. Thus buoyed, set a meeting with your boss to reflect and, yes, maybe brag. It’s time.

This guest column was written by Kara Baskin for Ron Mori, co-president of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.

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