Assistants and self-promotion: Weekend Poll results

Here are the results of my latest Weekend Poll, in which I asked readers a number of questions associated with self-promotion, negotiating and advocating on your own behalf.

I found some of the results of this particular poll quite interesting, and others unfortunate. While many assistants are clearly comfortable with promoting, negotiating and advocating on their own behalf, and some can do so despite saying they’re not naturals at it, significant percentages of respondents reported being very uncomfortable with such undertakings.

I recently developed a new training presentation, Because You Didn’t Ask: Advocating for Yourself, centred around the themes of effective self-promotion, articulating your value and negotiating on your own behalf. As mentioned when I posed these questions, I’ll share some of the results of this Weekend Poll when I present this session for the first time next month at APC Canada West.

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More comfortable negotiating for others than yourself?

Responses suggest that, for those who are very comfortable with negotiating, there’s not much difference in whether you’re negotiating for yourself  or others. Almost one in five respondents (18%) reported being very comfortable with negotiating on their own behalf. That percentage rose a bit (to 22.5%) when it came to the percentage of respondents who are very comfortable with negotiating in general.

 Houston, we have a problem

The contrasts are far more significant, though, for those who reported being anything other than very comfortable with negotiating. The results may suggest that, for those who don’t have a high comfort level with negotiating, negotiating for oneself is even more challenging than are general negotiations.

For example, while 22.5% of respondents said they’re very uncomfortable with negotiating in general, that number more than doubled to 48% of respondents who said they’re very uncomfortable negotiating on their own behalf.

What about those who say they’re not a natural at it, but can negotiate? Well, 35% of respondents chose this response when it comes to negotiating on their own behalf, while 55% of respondents chose the same response when it comes to negotiating in general.

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How effective at negotiating are you?

Again, the percentages of respondents who feel positively about such skills are fairly consistent whether negotiating in general or for themselves. Twenty-seven percent of respondents reporting being effective at negotiating in general, and there was a bit of a decline to 21% of respondents who report that they’re good at negotiating on their own behalf.

The gaps are once again more significant for those who find this a weak point. While 25% of respondents say negotiating in general is a weak point, that percentage doubled to 50% of respondents who say negotiating on their own behalf is a weak point.

What of those who reported being fairly good at negotiations? Well, 48% of respondents feel that way about negotiations in general, and 29% of respondents feel that way about negotiating on their own behalf.

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Self-advocacy and your career

Assistants often advocate on behalf of others, but are you comfortable doing so on your own behalf? The majority of respondents, 55%, said that you’re not naturals at this, but you can do it.

At opposite ends of the spectrum, just over one in five respondents find self-advocacy very uncomfortable, while the same percentage – 22.5% – find it very comfortable

Making your value known

Twenty-six percent of respondents reported being very comfortable articulating their value and making their accomplishments, skills and potential known to their principal (boss) and others.

Almost as many respondents, 23%, reported being very uncomfortable with such undertakings. Fifty-one percent of respondents reported that they’re not naturals at this, but can do it.

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Visibility, and your reputation in the office

Fifty percent of all respondents reported being satisfied with the reputations they’ve established within their respective organisations. Another 5% said no; they’re not satisfied. Somewhere in between, 45% of respondents reported being somewhat satisfied with their workplace reputations, although they believe that some of their contributions and/or abilities go unrecognised.

 We also looked at assistants’ visibility within the office. A full 64% of respondents are satisfied with the visibility they’ve achieved within their respective organisations – and it’s worth noting that 1% of that 64% said this is specifically because they like to keep a low profile.

More than a third of respondents, though, have different experiences. Twenty-three percent of respondents reported that they’re not satisified with the visibility they’ve achieved. Another 13% chose the response, “Are you kidding? People higher up the org chart don’t pay attention to this role”.

How do you feel about self-promotion?

Twenty-three percent of respondents said it depends on whether a person is able to do so without being obnoxious. Almost as many, 22%, realise it’s necessary but don’t enjoy self-promotion. Five percent said they hadn’t considered it until participating in this Weekend Poll.

What can you do?

I invited readers who are comfortable with self-promotion, advocating and negotiating on their own behalf to share their strategies. While approaches vary, many include documentation. Some list and share their accomplishments weekly or monthly, and make a point of extending recognition to colleagues with whom they’ve collaborated on projects.

A number of assistants reported tracking their accomplishments (wins) in order to demonstrate their value and returns on investment (ROI) for their employer. Some highlight how they’ve saved a principal’s time and positioned him or her for success.  Other swill establish “proof of evidence” in the form of internal and external commendations, photos from successful events, and statistics (metrics) that help to quantify their contributions.

What else can you do? Be yourself and know your worth. Self-assessment is a good approach. Do a skills audit, and compare your results against peer, colleague and employer perceptions. Be (positively) visible within your organisation. Some make a point of also being visible on social media, and appropriately sharing important topics. If you don’t buy in to social media, as I know many readers don’t, consider maintaining (or establishing) your LinkedIn profile to ensure it’s current.

If this isn’t your comfort zone

For those of you who are uncomfortable with all this, you’re in good company. Delve into readers’ comments below for their strategies, including one of “plan, prepare and plan”. Identifying and working on the points you need to get across is especially helpful when self-advocacy is outside your comfort zone.

Promote your wins and insights in an appropriate manner, and work toward being unafraid of making an “ask”.

THE DATABlow-Your-Own-Horn-2017-05-6920-Copyright-Shelagh-Donnelly-2.jpgHow comfortable are you with blowing your own horn and negotiating for yourself?

Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options. In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.

1. On a scale of 1 (very uncomfortable) to 3 (very comfortable), how comfortable are you with advocating for yourself when it comes to your career?

  • 1  (very uncomfortable):  22.5% of respondents 
  • 2 (not a natural, but I can do it): 55% of respondents
  • 3  (very comfortable):  22.5% of respondents

2. On a scale of 1 (very uncomfortable) to 3 (very comfortable), how comfortable are you with articulating your value/making your accomplishments, skills and potential known to your principal/others?

  • 1  (very uncomfortable):  23% of respondents 
  • 2 (not a natural, but I can do it): 51% of respondents
  • 3  (very comfortable):  26% of respondents

3. On a scale of 1 (very uncomfortable) to 3 (very comfortable), how comfortable are you with negotiating in general?

  • 1  (very uncomfortable):  22.5% of respondents 
  • 2 (not a natural, but I can do it): 55% of respondents
  • 3  (very comfortable):  22.5% of respondents

4. On a scale of 1 (very uncomfortable) to 3 (very comfortable), how comfortable are you with negotiating on your own behalf?

  • 1  (very uncomfortable): 48% of respondents 
  • 2 (not a natural, but I can do it): 35% of respondents
  • 3  (very comfortable):  17% of respondents

5. On a scale of 1 (very uncomfortable) to 3 (very comfortable), how comfortable are you with articulating your value/making your accomplishments, skills and potential known to your principal/others when it comes to negotiating on your own behalf?

  • 1  (very uncomfortable):  40% of respondents 
  • 2 (not a natural, but I can do it):  35% of respondents
  • 3  (very comfortable):  25% of respondents

6. How effective are you in negotiating in general?

  • It’s a weak point:  25% of respondents 
  • I’m fairly good at negotiations in general: 48% of respondents
  • I’m good at negotiations in general:  27% of respondents

7. How effective are you in negotiating on your own behalf?

  • It’s a weak point: 50% of respondents 
  • I’m fairly good at negotiating on my own behalf: 29% of respondents
  • I’m good at negotiating on my own behalf  21% of respondents

8. Are you satisfied with the reputation you’ve established within your organisation?

  • 50% of respondents: Yes
  • 45% of respondents: Somewhat, though I believe some of my contributions &/or abilities go unrecognised
  •  5% of respondents: No

9. Are you satisfied with the visibility you’ve achieved within your organisation?

  • 63% of respondents: Yes
  • 1% of respondents: Yes, and that’s because I like to keep a low profile
  • 23% of respondents: No
  • 13% or respondents: Are you kidding? People higher up the org chart don’t pay attention to this role

10. Which of the following best describes your views on self-promotion when it comes to your career?  

  • 23% of respondents: It depends on whether a person is able to do so without coming across as obnoxious
  • 22% of respondents: It’s a necessary evil; I don’t enjoy it but realise it’s necessary
  • 14% of respondents: I’ve tried it and it backfired
  • 13% of respondents: I’ve tried it and found it beneficial
  • 13% of respondents: I think it’s a natural thing to do and have benefitted from it
  • 8% of respondents: I think it’s a natural thing to do
  • 5% of respondents:  I’ve not considered it before now
  • 2% of respondents clicked on the “select an option” response rather than one of the options (We’re all human, yes?)

11. Which of the following best describes you and your perspectives?

  • 32% of all respondents reported having challenges with self-advocacy
  • 33% of all respondents reported being fairly comfortable with self-advocacy
  • 27% of all respondents reported being very comfortable with self-advocacy
  •  7% of all respondents said they’re not interested in labels associated with introversion/extroversion
  • 1% of all respondents clicked on the “select an option” response rather than one of the options

Here’s a breakdown of responses according to whether people identified as extroverts, introverts or neither (for which the term is ambivert)

  • 17%: I’m introverted and have challenges with self-advocacy
  • 10%: I’m extroverted and have challenges with self-advocacy
  • 5%: I’m neither an introvert or extrovert and have challenges with self-advocacy

 

  • 16%: I’m introverted and am fairly comfortable with self-advocacy
  •  9%: I’m extroverted and am fairly comfortable with self-advocacy
  •  8%: I’m neither an introvert or extrovert and am fairly comfortable with self-advocacy

 

  •  8%: I’m introverted and am very comfortable with self-advocacy
  •  9%: I’m extroverted and am very comfortable with self-advocacy
  • 10%: I’m neither an introvert or extrovert and am very comfortable with self-advocacy

12. If you’re comfortable with self-advocacy/promotion and negotiating on your own behalf, what strategies have you successfully incorporated? Here’s what you said.

  • It is absolutely CRITICAL to advocate on your own behalf. I also have an elevator speech ready, consistently update LinkedIn with recent accomplishments and keep track of ROI for reviews.
  • List my accomplishments weekly. Share some of them with my colleagues and manager. Celebrate my victories.
  • Doing monthly updates of projects I’m working on. Keeping track of “wins” to use during reviews. Giving praise to others on my team who work on projects with me.
  • A proof of evidence; this includes internal & external commendations, photos of successful and beautiful events, statistics on what I’ve achieved, etc.
  • Maintain confidence and credibility
  • Do a skills audit and compare results against peers, colleagues and company perceptions
  • Know exactly where you add value, quantify the lower, mid and upper level outputs and always aim high
  • Learn active listening skills and have meaningful conversations with Executives
  • Promote wins and insights but don’t be creepy
  • Being myself and knowing my worth. Not afraid to ask for things – life is mainly a yes or no answer!
  • Befriending key members of the organisation is always a good move
  • Networking
  • Public speaking
  • Not comfortable (with this), but when it’s necessary I try to plan what points I need to get across so I can stick to the points and not get put off
  • Be visible in your company, but also on social media. Share important topics.
  • Explain the value you bring over and above the job description for which you were recruited. Highlight where you are saving the exec’s time. Check your market value and go for it.
  • Plan, prepare, plan

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