Ask Jo: How can I stand out in a constantly changing organization?

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Question: I work for a company that has had a lot of re-orgs. My responsibilities keep changing, and I have had three managers over the past year. By review time, my accomplishments always seem to be forgotten. How can I make sure my contributions are acknowledged in a constantly changing organization?

Answer: You have my sympathy! Making sure your accomplishments are visible is difficult enough, but even more so when your organization is in a constant state of flux. I’m sure it feels like you’re always going back to square one to re-establish your credibility and reputation. It must be demotivating to think that six months from today no one will remember your hard work.

Here are 5 steps to help you stand out and make your contributions known in a constantly changing organization.

1. Once a week: Log your accomplishments

Keeping a running list of your contributions is a great habit to get into, even if your organization is stable. Start this today. Create a recurring calendar event every Friday that prompts you to jot down your achievements for the week. It’s an effective way to build an ‘I’ve-done-well-file’ throughout the year while helping you prep for reviews and promotion time. Tip: If you’re having an especially bad week, pull out the list as a reminder that you rock!

2. Once a month: Identify the highlights

On a less frequent, but regular basis, say monthly, edit and curate your list to emphasize a small number of top achievements and review them with your manager. Focus on accomplishments that you would add to your resume or your LinkedIn profile. Before meeting with your manager, email this list to him or her (and keep a copy) so you both have a record of your contributions and can chat about them when you meet.

3. Once a quarter: Promote signature achievements

Select one or two signature achievements to publicize more widely each quarter, with the aim of becoming more broadly known, and making a name for yourself as the person who achieved those results. Choose wins that align closely with your personal brand, while showing valuable, quantifiable results to your company. Memorize these, so you can flex your storytelling muscles when an appropriate opportunity arises—think elevator pitch. Promote these signature achievements in ways that are in line with your company’s culture, such as documenting and sharing best practices, submitting an article to your company’s newsletter, or giving an educational talk. Your goal: to establish a wider reputation as a valuable contributor that goes beyond your manager and your team.

4. Once the re-org is announced: Debrief your outgoing manager

Much like an exit interview that’s conducted with an employee who’s leaving, I encourage you to meet with your outgoing manager. Express your appreciation, offer positive feedback on what it’s been like to work together, and ask if you can do anything to support your outgoing manager’s transition into a new role. Finally, ask for assistance with getting your new manager up to speed. Would your outgoing manager be willing to forward a summary of your strengths, signature accomplishments, and career goals to your new manager? If so, make this task easier by providing a concise summary. And if you’ve discussed timelines for a special assignment, promotion, or raise, ask for confirmation in writing, cc’d to your new supervisor.

5. Once the leadership has changed: Educate your new management

Use any change in leadership as a prompt to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Add your signature accomplishments and share these with your new manager and other team members in your direct management chain. In your first meeting, ask your new boss questions that will help you get to know the new leader’s role, goals, and preferred ways to communicate. You want to find out how you can best support your new boss. Once you’re aligned on those areas, offer to review your summary of your strengths, signature accomplishments, and longer-term career goals.

Next time another re-org is announced, go ahead and roll your eyes. Then relax knowing you’ve built a solid track record that won’t walk out the door when your boss does.

Jo Miller

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

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