NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Although humility is usually an asset in the workplace, sometimes speaking up and taking credit for what you've accomplished is the best way to get promoted, recognized or considered for a new position. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to discuss your achievements without sounding like a pompous blowhard. If it's time you spoke up and made your talents be known, here are six ways to do it without sounding like a jerk.
1. Timing is key
Discussing your accomplishments on occasion is fine, but doing it frequently can rub everyone the wrong way.
"Employees who brag about their work on a regular basis not only become an annoyance to coworkers, but they could also be doing themselves a disservice in the eyes of management," says Stephanie Menchaca, manager of HR Services at human resources and business solutions provider Insperity. "Highlighting one's accomplishments without appearing to be boastful is an art form."
Don't be so eager to detail your accomplishments that you start doing so once a week. Speaking up once a month or even once a quarter is enough to ensure your achievements are acknowledged.
When it's time to talk about your accomplishments, focus on the "tangible results" of your efforts, says professor Angelo Kinicki, management professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
"Avoid hearsay like, 'The client said' or 'My employees told me,'" Kinicki says. "Be sure to tout achievements to your boss in private and only in public when the accomplishment is relevant to a discussion at hand."
2. Demonstrate great work & outcomes
"Saying that you are the best at something will likely not impress anyone," Menchaca says. "Instead, show your skills to your manager by having him or her take a look at a significant piece of work that is in progress."
This approach gives the manager a chance to review and share his or her expertise, while also seeing your capabilities without bragging on your part, she says.
Also, remember that just doing your job is not an accomplishment, reminds Dave Sanford, executive vice president of client relations at recruitment firm WinterWyman.
"When speaking about your accomplishments, how you made decisions and the scope of your work are interesting, but the outcome is the most relevant fact and what you should focus on," Sanford says. "Talk about how you made a difference and back it up with facts."
3. Create opportunities for visibility
Don't be afraid to speak up at meetings, when all eyes may be on you, Menchaca says. It's OK to use these opportunities to share achievements when appropriate.
"For example, add a 'recent wins' section to an internal meeting agenda," she suggests. "This not only gives you but also the entire group a chance to politely brag about their recent accomplishments or those of others on the team."
4. Pay it forward
Offering kudos to others for a job well done can be a great way to encourage support among coworkers, Menchaca says.
"Paying it forward could even lead to colleagues complimenting your work down the road," she says.
When you're giving a shout-out to your colleague, be detailed. Let your supervisors know how he or she helped solve a problem, taught the team something useful or saved a presentation, she suggests.
"There is a way to advance your position without losing your humility by making it about others, not yourself," Sanford says. "Make sure your bragging focuses on the improvement of your team, the company, the greater good."
5. Position accomplishments as a teaching opportunity
"Whether you've increased the company's ROI, landed a significant piece of business or solved a major problem for the team, the accomplishment can be used as a chance to educate others," Menchaca says. "Talk with your supervisor about creating a best-practices procedure related to the situation."
You can then work with your manager to help him or her share the new best practices with the department so the same skills or technique that you used to find success can be used consistently to boost your team's productivity or bottom line, she says.
"This offers you and your supervisor a chance to shine and could be beneficial during the performance review process."
6. Provide status reports on your work
"Much of your job security rests on your ability to make contributions that get recognized by leaders at your company," says Robert Hosking, executive director at staffing firm OfficeTeam. "Managers may be too busy to notice every achievement you make, so it's up to you to promote your contributions."
The key, Hosking says, is to make sure people are aware of your accomplishments without "screaming them from the rooftops." This is why it's essential to provide your manager with regular status reports on your work.
"Collect good news whenever it comes and keep it in a file that's easy to access," he says. "This might include complimentary notes from managers and emails praising your work. You can use this collection to not only boost your spirits but also to showcase your achievements and value to the organization. These notes could come in handy for performance reviews."
If providing status reports is something you already do, make sure you aren't downplaying your actions through brief or vague language, Hosking cautions.
"Be clear on what exactly you did."
— By Kathryn Tuggle for MainStreet