How To Ask for Recognition That You’re Not Getting

Some of us have directors or managers who have never learned to give recognition to people when it is due. They can seem too task oriented. Others are more introverted and not used to expressing feelings.

Or, maybe you hear reports from employees who wonder what they can do to bring this topic of a lack of recognition up with their manager, but are afraid it might backfire if they do. Now they have gone for years without having their work properly acknowledged.

What can they do to highlight their work successes and finally get the recognition they deserve?

Turn the tables and learn how to ask for the recognition you’re not getting.

Ways To Get The Recognition You Deserve

Keep a personal achievement log. Maintain a handwritten or online log on a monthly basis of your various activities and tasks completed each month. Update this record on a weekly basis, so you don’t forget. Just write up the weekly activities that you are most proud of. Remember to note any numbers or metrics to substantiate your achievements. It has surprised me when I note the number of specific activities I have performed in a brief time period. Have this log with you whenever you meet with your manager. Then when they ask for an account on a specific project, you have information at your fingertips. Hopefully, this stimulates at least a nod or some words of encouragement.

Speaking up in meetings. If you have regular and consistent staff meetings, come prepared to give an update on the projects you are working on once in a while. Give a concise report of where things are at and when you hope to have things completed. Don’t feel that you have to do this at every meeting. However, make sure that your work gets highlighted at least once a month. You might not get direct recognition you’re your boss through doing this, but at least your manager knows what you are doing.

Collaborate with others. Work with other team members from within your department or area, or even with employees from other departments, to get fresh eyes seeing what you can contribute. Working with other people provides opportunities for positive feedback, growth, and development. It will also open the doors for recognition from your peers and, potentially, other managers and directors who see or hear about what you do. Word will always get back to your manager and this may trigger some recognition from them.

Request to have feedback meetings. A significant way to get recognition and authentic feedback is to have regular one-on-one meetings with the manager you report to. These can be on a weekly basis or, at a minimum, monthly. This allows you to have a dialogue on your current performance and to receive positive feedback on your work. If your manager does not immediately start doing so, ask that these meetings be a two-way format. Suggest to your manager they share their goals and successes too, and things that they need from you. A two-way dialogue should provide the opportunity to discuss asking for recognition at the frequency and manner that you best to like to receive it.

Send email reports. Besides keeping a log of your personal achievements and completion of goals, you can also give your manager a regular update on your progress and achievements for the week. As they assign you specific tasks ask your manager how often they would like to hear on your progress. Calendar in your manager’s requested frequency and give them a progress report the way like.

Scrollbar updates. Just like most major news channels on TV have scrollbar news updates at the bottom of the TV screen, you can create short and concise message updates to give to your manager. Have these sound-bite messages ready for whenever you see your manager in the hallway, in the elevator, or any place where you might have a brief exchange. This is like a public relations elevator pitch that is short and sweet and ready to share at a moment’s notice.

Create quarterly reviews. This is where you use your monthly achievement logs. Give your manager a quarterly review of your progress to date, and present the review in a face-to-face meeting, or if working remotely, through a videoconference meeting. You need to see their facial reaction and them seeing your enthusiasm about your work. Tell them your plans for the next quarter and any weekly or bi-weekly sprint activities you have scheduled. Ask them for their input and suggestions for what they would like you working on in the next quarter.

Corporate award programs. If you cannot receive recognition from your immediate manager, you could at least strive to apply or nominate a project you have completed for an appropriate award category from your company’s formal award programs. However, these nominations are most likely to happen when you have been working on a team project. And it is also something you can plan with other employees to work on a project idea aligned with an award ahead of time. Then you submit the nomination after you complete the project. Sometimes, award nominations need your manager approval. Their signed approval is an informal endorsement and recognition of your outstanding work. Take whatever recognition you can get.

Ask why they don’t give recognition. If you have managed to get one-on-one feedback meeting happening regularly, the time will come when you can ask bold questions, like, “Why is it you haven’t recognized me in the last [insert time period]?”. “Are you aware that staff are not feeling valued for their contributions on the job?” Some of these may seem too bold to you. But I recall at my second job in Canada, not hearing any feedback about my performance after the first 60-days and wondering what the boss was thinking about me. I knocked on his door and asked if I could speak with him. I asked, “I’d like to know how I am doing and whether you think I have the potential of staying with the company?” He gave me a glowing report and told me to keep doing what I was doing. 

The irony is, if I hadn’t asked, I might never have known. I have long learned that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Recognition Reflection: How can you get recognition more often for the exceptional work you are doing?

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