The pros and cons of tooting your horn at work

170635730If you have a work history, chances are high you have been around people who brag about themselves. The image and perception is so strong that it can impact you from acknowledging your accomplishments when you need to.

Think about what you have done recently that has helped your employer reduce costs or streamline processes that led to more productivity. If so, does anyone know about the results besides you? In most cases, probably not.

There are lots of talented professionals who never get the credit they deserve because no one knows how much they contribute. There are reasons why that happens and most of time it’s due to being uncomfortable with tooting your own horn. Most despise bragging and when the spotlight shines on them, they tend to feel awkward among their peers.

The truth is that a thin line exists between  bragging and missing out on opportunities to grow because your work goes unnoticed. You take a risk with your career when you don’t acknowledge your achievements as well as when you focus too much attention on yourself.

The pros 
Let’s start with the pros in talking about your accomplishments and how they can help position your career for fast-track promotions.
The key is how to talk about yourself and your contributions without making those around you want to leave. While being humble is a likable trait in the workplace, too much of it can cause others to disregard your value and your talents can easily go unnoticed.

Begin with keeping a weekly journal or list of those things you did that made an impact on the team or department. Briefly outline what you did that helped and how you did it. This is a good exercise to help you recognize your skills and the part you play in the company’s success.

You want to be memorable in talking about your accomplishments to those who can open doors of career opportunities without overwhelming people with the details.

Another way you can mention your accomplishments without going overboard during a performance evaluation is to highlight the achievements of your department and point out what you did to support the efforts. This way you give credit to both the department and your abilities, minus the bragging perception you want to avoid.

Keep all of your customer comments, thank-you notes and recognitions — they can come in handy during meetings with your boss. Better yet, if a customer or colleague could send a recognition note to your boss on your behalf it will send a stronger message.

The cons
The cons of tooting your own horn at work can naturally be the perception it sends to your colleagues. Those who go around talking about their accomplishments on a consistent basis come off as highly competitive. Being competitive has an attractive energy about it, but too much can cause others to avoid you.

A strategy that can backfire is talking too often about yourself in order to protect your job. Don’t make the mistake of talking about your accomplishments on a weekly basis especially during team meetings in order to come off looking strong. While it’s important that decision-makers know your value, the key is timing and how often you mention your successes.

Telling your boss about your efforts helps them maintain a positive image, but going two levels above them to really seal the image can be excessive. At least that’s what happened when a supervisor heard the news about a downsizing months in advance, so he began a campaign to let senior management know of his worth by sending out emails mentioning his accomplishments.

Instead of management keeping him when notices went out, he was the first to go in spite of showing them his value. The reason was obvious — he came across as a “one-man” show and appeared clueless about the efforts of his teammates.

Make it a point this week to write down your successes even if it is something you might think insignificant such as working on a project with a colleague. Get in the habit of identifying what you do well.

Talking about your accomplishments at work definitely has its place, but you need to be aware of the timing of when to talk and when to say nothing at all.

What do you think about when tooting your horn at work seems necessary? How do you talk about your accomplishments without coming across as bragging?


Kim Thompson