Do you know your worth? My top tips for proving your value at work.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about value lately, or more specifically, knowing your own worth. When we think of value we often think of things that are valuable or value for money, which implies value is directly related to money or external worth. But what about knowing your own intrinsic worth?

I know this is a slightly different kind of post to the norm for me on here but I hope it can help someone who finds their self in this position. The full post is a bit more businessy, so it's over on my other blog, but if you'd like to read it in full you can find it here.

We’ve been brought up believing that feminine qualities are somehow less valuable in the workplace than those that are considered more masculine. Competition, confidence, being strong, being ruthless and independent are highly prized qualities at work. Whereas being collegiate, supportive, helpful or dependable are somehow seen as less valuable in our culture.
I was raised by a strong woman and grew up in a house that was more clearly driven by feminine gender traits but I was taught to believe I could do anything, be anything and that being a strong, independent woman was a good thing. I was taught that you didn’t have to choose between being friendly and supportive and still getting ahead in your career. However, whilst the business world needs to catch up with developing this culture, we still need to conform to some degree if we want to get ahead. 

So here are my top tips for demonstrating your worth in the workplace:

First of all, know your value yourself and don’t let anyone tell you you’re worth less. Especially if you’re in a heavily masculine culture. Over time it can erode your self-esteem and makes you question your own worth. This is precisely what other people, who are themselves insecure with fragile egos, do to feel more important. Don’t let them make you doubt yourself.

Secondly, make sure you can prove your worth. People believe you cannot put numbers and targets on values like helpfulness and teamwork. This is untrue, it just requires a bit more creativity than looking at the bottom line of a spreadsheet. As well as ensuring your workplace measures some of these traits, you do also have to ensure you can also demonstrate your value in more traditional ways such as income generated, ability to show initiative and even when working in a team, always know exactly what your individual contribution to the outcome was.

Thirdly, be seen. If you don’t think you are being valued, be bold and change the story about yourself. A typical feminine trait is being passive and modest, and humility is a great quality to retain, but being passive does not get you noticed. You’ve got to face this head on – network your ass off, make sure people know what you’re doing.

Use the adage 20% show pony and 80% work horse, which means spend most of your time finding projects that are a great match for your skills, work hard and deliver what you say you will. Then spend 20% of your time being your own awesome PR machine. Tell others about your achievements (in a nice way), use social media platforms such as Linked In, volunteer for new assignments and cultivate strong sponsor relationships, where someone in a senior position will advocate for you. 
Finally, try to move beyond the blockers. If you have a manager who is impeding you or undervaluing you at work, then try to find ways to work beyond them with other managers who will support you. Take opportunities to hold managers to account by putting on record in appraisals or one to one meetings that you would like more opportunity for visibility and ask them what they specifically can do to give you that opportunity. Be tenacious and follow up with them afterwards if they don’t fulfil their promises.

If all of the above doesn’t work and you still feel like you are not being shown the value you deserve then this is where it is so important to know and jealously guard your own worth. If your current employer refuses to show you the value you deserve, go somewhere where they will value you.

I’ve seen so many bright, talented people stay stuck in jobs that erode their confidence and keep them stuck in the same place for years, as if they were in an abusive relationship and sometimes this is the case. Their boss praises them one minute and then threatens that they might not have a job the next, being overly controlling and grabbing all of the glory for their successes. This is not a healthy place to be and if you find yourself here, run! Don’t let the pattern take hold, as it's incredibly destructive to self-esteem.

External value is important, as perception is reality in the world of work, but really knowing your own intrinsic worth is so much more essential.

Have you experienced any of these things at work or anywhere else? What did you do to solve it?

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