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As Latinos, we’re often taught that the most important thing we can do is to work hard. Our work will “speak for itself” and others will recognize and reward us based on our effort.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
In fact, if you do your job well, it is often true that people won’t notice you at all – not because they don’t care, but because you’re not a problem and things are flowing smoothly. This is where being humilde can actually hurt us.
The Latino work ethic is legendary – and nearly mythic in its proportions. But while working hard is a necessary first step, you can’t stop there!
You need to make sure that others know about the work you’re doing and recognize how the work brings value to them.
Here are a few suggestions.
Talk to Your Supervisor
Regardless of if you have weekly meetings, or if you only talk to your boss once a year, it helps to have higher-ups know what you’re working on, and why it matters to them.
Casually bring up the project you’re working on in conversation, or talk about a job well done (once it’s finished). Reference the kudos you received from clients or customers, or ask for feedback once an assignment is complete.
If asking for feedback, make sure you highlight the things that went really well before asking for pointers on what you could have done to make it even better.
Do not talk about staying late, working weekends and ‘how hard you’re working.’ Instead, focus on sharing the outcome of the project, why it was important, and how you played a key role.
Talk to Your Clients
It can be extremely helpful to your clients and customers when you reference how you helped someone else – if it relates directly to their situation. If you previously came up with a solution that is also applicable to them, the current client will feel confident in your abilities knowing you’ve done it before, and eager to follow your suggestions. This shows your credibility, as well as showcasing your work.
Talk About Your Clients
When you brag internally about your customers and what they’ve done (because of your help, of course), you give them good ‘press’ while also evidencing the outcome of your own efforts.
This is a nice thing to do apart from tooting your own horn, and shows pride in your work, connection to clients and customers, and an understanding of how business weaves together.
Talk to Your Colleagues
Others in your work environment likewise need to know what you’re working on, how it’s important to them and to the company and/or its customers. This is not about bragging; rather, find some ways in which you synergize with others in the workplace.
If you have a teammate that is working on one part of a large project that you’re also working on, talk to her about her contributions, what you’re doing, and how you can work together for a better end product.
Leverage the Thank You
When a client, customer or coworker expresses their gratitude, accept it with grace, and ask them to put it in writing. Try something like, “I’m so glad you benefitted from my work. Would you be willing to write a short note explaining how I assisted you for my files?”
When you’ve helped someone, they sincerely want to help you as well, and will be glad to do so – as long as the favor is doable and easy.
If you need to, you can explain you’re keeping it for your review files, to show to your boss, or simply to give yourself a boost when you’re feeling discouraged.
Have Others Sing Your Praises
Sometimes this thank you note can go directly to your boss, supervisor or someone else on the team. A grateful client might be willing – or even prefer – to send a note to your boss explaining why they found your work so important and expressing gratitude for the value your team brings to bear overall.
This makes everyone feel good.
These are just a few suggestions for how to ‘toot your own horn.’ I also recommend keeping a file (either on your computer or a file drawer) of all the emails, notes and other thank-you’s received during the past year. This is good for review time, as well as to recall with whom you have had good rapport.
Remember the goal: Others need to know what you’re doing and how it brings value to them. This will ultimately bring value back to you.
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.