Here are some subtle techniques to draw attention to those big accomplishments:
• Provide written updates. When you’re working on an ambitious project and starting to produce exciting results, get in the habit of distributing written progress reports on a regular basis. In one-page memos that you send to your boss (and other executives who may have a vested interest in your work), describe in quantifiable terms how your efforts are paying off. End each memo with a list of questions that you’re grappling with, and invite others to respond.
• Involve third parties. If you come up with ways to help internal or external customers, enlist their help. When they tell you how much they like what you’ve done, invite them to let your boss know how they feel. Say, “Thanks for the input. If you could jot down a short note to my boss about this, I would appreciate it.” Don’t be bashful: Many people will happily comply with your request if you make it easy for them to do so.
• Follow up. Never try to fish for compliments from your boss. That’s unseemly. It’s wiser to follow up with substantive, fact-finding questions about your project. Examples: “Would you like me to expand the pilot project to include other branch offices?” “What’s your timetable for enacting my recommendations?” “What kind of applications do you see for this new program?” Just ask these types of questions in moderation so that you don’t become a pest. Your goal: To keep your hard work visible and discussed frequently so that it can’t be ignored.