It’s a common frustration.

You realise that you are one of – if not THE – longest serving members of the team. You know your role inside out. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.  But it does mean you confidently just get on with it and manage the challenges as they arise.

Unfortunately, doing a job that well is what is holding back your career. 

And it is why those less experienced people are being promoted over you. Don’t believe me?

Let me explain.

Sailing a steady ship doesn’t get attention 

Imagine 2 ships come into harbour at the same time.  One ship and crew is fine and all in perfect order.  The other limps in, injured crew members and rigging torn and hanging from the masts.

Which has achieved more to come to harbour? 

We assume the damaged ship faced worse challenges – because we can see the impact of those challenges in the injuries and damage.  What an achievement making it home!

What if you learn both ships sailed through the same storms?

Which ship and crew has performed better now? Once you know the challenges faced by both crews, you can judge the performance better.

It’s the same in the workplace. 

Those less experienced people need to ask for help so their challenges are visible – and so are their achievements in overcoming them.

However, by just doing a good job and managing issues yourself, people assume your seas were calm.  The trick is to learn how to make those storms visible while showing that you handled them brilliantly.

THAT’S when they value your work.

Time to SOAR 

There’s a handy acronym to help you do this:

S – Situation – what’s the situation

O – Obstacle – what’s getting in the way, or the issue

A – Action – what YOU did about it

R – Result – and what was the result with quantified impact

For example, imagine your manager asks in a 1:1 how Project ‘Important’ is going.

You answer, ‘it’s fine’ and the conversation moves on. Manager reasonably assumes there are no problems.

Instead, imagine you answer:

‘Last week I noticed Jean from Legal wasn’t copied onto the latest proposed amends. [situation] Without her input, we risked the project failing to meet the next deadline. [obstacle] So I contacted her, and we had a conversation.  She’s reviewed the document and submitted her amends.  I’ve also contacted the Project Lead to ensure she is back on the distribution list [action YOU took].  So we are back on track and won’t miss that deadline, which would have cost us 20k [result, quantified]. ’

It’s the same message, but the perspective is totally different.   

Now your manager is grateful to you because they know what you did and the value of it.  Why not challenge yourself to bring at least one achievement like this to your manager each week?

Are you sailing your ship too steadily to be noticed?  What storms do you navigate so calmly no one knows?  

You don’t have to work this out on your own.  If you’d like some support to work it out, do get in touch for a free exploratory conversation, by clicking here

Paula Sheridan is a coach specialising in working with professional women who are frustrated that their career progress has slowed.  She helps them learn to recognise their own value so they can communicate it to the right people so that they can start to move forward again. Find out more on Paula’s profile page