Getting recognition for what you do

By – Sally Longson

A major complaint of many secretaries or PAs is that they aren't given recognition for the work they do. When you're working hard for people in a close relationship with great chemistry between you on a day to day basis, and they never seem to appreciate your efforts, it is very demoralising. This is especially the case when you're taking on more and more work. However, if you think you're not given the recognition you deserve, the first two questions to ask yourself if you're in this situation are:

  • What specifically have you done so far about this problem? List everything you have done.

  • For each thing, what happened? What was the outcome?

If you find you haven't done anything, then it's time to do something. And if you have tried something but without success, hopefully the suggestions below will help.

How do you want your efforts to be recognised?

For most of us, this will fall into two categories:

  1. Professionally, such as:
    • a new job description that reflects your role as it changes;
    • a new job title;
    • a higher salary;
    • if the company can't run to a bigger wage packet, then perhaps sponsorship for a professional qualification (useful to you in your career and in the long term; but also beneficial to the company).
  2. Personally, such as:
    • A simple 'thank you';
    • Giving you the occasional afternoon or extra day off;
    • Taking you out for lunch;
    • Remembering your birthday.

The question is, how can you get that recognition? Start off by acknowledging that this is an issue for you, but don't take it personally. Look at the culture of your organisation overall by observing other people's behaviour and manners.

  • How many other people in your company feel the same way that you do? Is it the company culture for people to openly express appreciation, or do people keep very much to themselves, saying little and giving feedback simply to complain or criticize? You can be sure that everybody in the company is taking on more and more responsibility. Are their efforts being recognised, too? Watch the way managers behave towards each other and their staff to look for clues.

  • Observe the way your boss handles other people. Does he say 'thank you' to other staff members he's working with? He may not even think of it. It may not be his style. He may simply not know how to behave any better. There may be cultural differences, if you're of different nationalities.

  • Review your own standards. How do you treat other people? Do you always thank them? Do you pick up the phone to thank people if they've gone the extra mile for you?

  • Think more broadly than your working life. How much respect and recognition do you get outside the office? Do you feel unappreciated at home? Ask yourself whether you feel let down by a lack of recognition for your efforts from your boss, family, friends and partner. You'll be surprised at how many are feeling the same way.

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