What to Do When You Don’t Feel Valued at Work

At one time or anorther during a career, most of us have felt that we and our work are not appreciated…or at least underappreciated.

What to do?

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rebecca Knight forHarvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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It’s no fun to toil away at a job where your efforts go unnoticed. How can you highlight your achievements without bragging about your work? Who should you talk to about feeling underappreciated? And if the situation doesn’t change, how long should you stay?

What the Experts Say

“There’s nothing worse than feeling unseen and unheard in the workplace,” says Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work. “We all have a human need to be appreciated for our efforts, and so when your colleagues don’t notice [your contributions], it makes you feel as though you don’t belong.” You might also start to worry – justifiably – about your potential professional advancement. “Self-doubt starts to creep in, and you think, ‘If no one notices what I’m doing, how am I going to get ahead?’” But you are not powerless to change the situation, says Karen Dillon, author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics. “There are many ways to make sure people understand and see what you do.” The key, she says, is to find “diplomatic ways to toot your own horn.” Here are some ideas.

Be realistic

Before you take any action, ask yourself whether you’re being realistic about the amount of appreciation “you expect from your boss, colleagues, peers, and clients,” says McKee. “People are very busy. The feedback might not be as much as you want,” but it might be reasonable within the context of your organization. “You are dealing with human beings,” adds Dillon. “Even with good intentions, your colleagues and manager might overlook what you do and take you for granted.” When you’re feeling unappreciated, she recommends running a “personal litmus test” on your recent accomplishments. Ask yourself, “Was my work extraordinary? Was it over and above what my peers typically do?” And importantly, “If I had to ask for credit for it, would I sound like a jerk?” If you’re unsure, seek a second opinion from a “slightly senior colleague” or a peer you “deeply respect.”

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston and a lecturer at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Financial Times.

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