I don’t mean to brag…well, actually, I do. And so should you.

But if you are like most employees, bragging is outside your comfort zone so, even though you should do it, you don’t do it.

I’m Paul Glover, the No B.S. Post-Pandemic Leadership Coach and I’m going to tell you how to properly “blow your own horn.” Or, to make it sound more professional, how to engage in appropriate Self-Promotion.

Self-promotion gets an undeserved bad rap because most employees have:

  1. Been told, since childhood, that their work, not their words, should represent them and that others will take offense if they openly highlight their accomplishments.
  2. Witnessed an obnoxious, loud mouth employee bragging, in an “its all about me” fashion, about how great they are and were repulsed by it.
  3. Don’t know how to self-promote without sounding like the obnoxious, loud mouth employee I just referenced.

An example of the reluctance to be a self-promoter, recently occurred at a meeting I attended between a company president and an Executive Team Leader. When the president outlined the 3 key items, he wanted the Team Leader to accomplish, the Team Leader responded he had already completed item 1. And item 2. And item 3. The president, surprised, asked: “Why didn’t you tell me you’d already done these things?” The Team Leader just shrugged and the conversation moved on to other issues.

In our next coaching session, the Team Leader told me he hadn’t informed the president he had completed the 3 items because he thought that would be seen as “blowing his own horn” and he didn’t want the president to think he was bragging about how efficient he was.

My response to him was self-promotion, done the right way, is a good thing. It’s an effective method of ensuring others – your Team Members and your Team Leader – are aware of your competence and accomplishments.

I then shared with him, and now with you, the secret of successful Self-Promotion and 6 methods for effectively highlight your competence and accomplishments without being seen as someone who is gratuitously “blowing their own horn”.

The Secret to Successful Self-Promotion is Co-Promotion:  When you brag about your own skill sets and accomplishments, you must, simultaneously, compliment other Team Members or the entire Team. Those you inform about your accomplishment (your Team Leader, other Team Leaders, upper-level managers) will also see you publicly offer praise and appreciation for others. This builds your reputation as a competent achiever, who is an appreciative, supportive Team Mate and not a self-centered braggart.

Here’s an example of Co-Promotion: “Success on this project can be attributed to our exceptional teamwork. I was responsible for (insert whatever your contribution was), while my team mate (name here) used his exceptional skills in (whatever). Using our respective strengths in collaboration, we achieved a successful outcome.”

The 6 Effective Methods of Self-Promotion

  1. Comparing your achievements to others is a negative, but describing your achievements in a non-comparative fashion is a positive. If you brag about how much you sold in comparison to others, this is seen as a negative. If, instead, you say you’re happy because you helped your Team  reach their sales goal by selling X amount, you’ll be perceived as celebrating the Team’s success, not bragging about yours.
  2. Focus on your Team’s accomplishments, not your own.While it can be seen as bragging announcing you successfully completed Project X, it isn’t seen as bragging when you announce you and your Team (say their names), successfully completed Project X. When you highlight the work of Team Members or the Team, the recognition this creates for others automatically reflects back onto you.
  3. Giving “shout outs” to your Team and ccing your Team Leader and others. This can be as simple as sending Team Members an email, thanking them for their extra effort and copying your Team Leader, or writing an article highlighting the Team’s accomplishment for the company newsletter (the more specific you are in describing the effort the better). This also lets Team Members know how much you appreciate them.
  4. Look for opportunities to co-promote. Always be looking for an opportunity to share good news about yourself and your Team. Team Leader always hears the bad news. Co-promoting gives him/her the opportunity to hear good news. And everyone likes to hear that. When sharing information about your and your Team’s success, share it as close as possible to the accomplishment.
  5. Record and share your progress. Rather than passively hoping your Team Leader sees your achievements, keep a written record of the progress you make towards achieving your goals. This proactive exercise gives you up to date information on your progress which you can periodically share with your Team Leader at least quarterly and not just in your annual performance review.
  6. Don’t self or co-promote unless you have done something that merits recognition.Sharing your, and the Team’s accomplishments, should only occur after the hard work is completed and the expected outcomes have been achieved. Otherwise, your Team Leader will realize you’re looking for undeserved recognition. And that’s never a good thing.

In my 30-year career as a performance coach, I’ve known really talented people, who did amazing work but didn’t get the recognition they deserved because Team Leaders were unaware of their good work. In the chaotic Post-Pandemic work environment, Team Leaders don’t always pay attention to who is doing the work and fail to realize and recognize an individual’s achievements. This is why self-promotion is an appropriate way to share good news of goal achievement and also ensure you get the recognition your good work deserves.

Finally, while I’m certainly not recommending grandstanding, you need to realize you must always be your own best advocate! Only when you have shown your Team Leader you are a high performing team member by “blowing your own horn” the right way will they be convinced to also become your advocate. This approach will keep you from being overlooked the next time an opportunity for advancement presents itself.

This week when you have good news to share about yourself and your Team, don’t hesitate to “blow your own horn”! To quote the stellar baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” Just remember to do it the right way.

WORKQUAKE - Leadership book by Paul Glover