“Can’t they see how hard I’m working?”


“Can’t they see how hard I’m working?”  I hear this question a lot from my clients.

“It isn’t your boss’s job to notice how hard you are working, it’s yours,” I tell them.

This is actually good news.

It sounds like I’m being harsh, but stay with me here.  This idea will dramatically improve your happiness at work.

When you make it your boss’s job to appreciate how hard you work, or anything about your work, you are giving them all the power.  You are letting that person be in charge of your happiness.  Do you really want that?

Maybe your boss is awesome.  Or maybe your boss is horrible.  Either way, they have a whole host of responsibilities of which you are just one small part.  Bosses get tired and worried about pleasing their own bosses.   If you make the subset of days that you can be happy dependent on their recognition you are really limiting yourself.

In addition, when you are asking your boss for recognition you come off as needy.  The fact of the matter is that you teach people how to treat you.  If you teach them that you will work hard for recognition, they will ask you to work harder and harder before they appreciate you.  (Anyone remember what happened to the horse in Animal Farm?)

And if being happy isn’t motivation enough, being dependent on someone else to value what you do will definitely hurt you at raise and promotion time. You have to value your work before you can expect someone to.

So what should you do instead?

Give yourself what you need.  Decide what kind of employee you want to be and be that.  Reward yourself when you know you’ve done a good job.   No matter what kind of mood the boss is in, you can tell yourself that you know you did your best.  And if your own opinion doesn’t mean a lot to you, then we definitely need to talk.

When I knew it was time to leave Merrill, I felt like I had all kinds of freedom because I was no longer worried about my boss’s approval.  I knew that I was going to leave after bonus time.  I implemented several new client ideas.

So how did that turn out?

The funny thing was the less I was worried about my boss’s approval, the more I got it.  This wasn’t childish “I do what I want” kind of attitude.  It was me being willing to try new things because I was less afraid of failing or looking stupid with a suggestion.  By the time I was ready to leave, instead of being mad, my boss offered me the largest bonus I was eligible for as a thank you for all my hard work.  Seriously, the biggest bonus he could give me.

What I appreciated the most about that time was that it really taught me that having my own back at work was the shortest path to happiness. And, of course, I the extra cash was nice too.


P.S. If you struggle to appreciate yourself and your work, click here to schedule a free mini session with me!

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