Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tooting Your Own Horn



I’ve always been told that it’s a bad thing to “Toot your own horn”. This colloquialism typically refers to bragging or boasting. But if you view your horn as your accomplishments, I’ve come to the realization that you have to toot your own horn, or who will?

Obviously there are those out there that would be willing to give a toot or two. There are family members, close friends, and respected colleagues that would be willing to speak up at a moment’s notice. What they likely won’t do is go out of their way to talk someone else up without any nudging or coercion.

There are moments in life, plenty of them, actually, where it is perfectly acceptable – perhaps even vital – for “self tooting”. It just has to be done carefully. For example, I feel I’m due a promotion at work, especially since they took my last one away (they actually just eliminated the position altogether – my compensation was unaffected by the stripping of my title). Now, what I can’t do is bust into my boss’s office, guns blazing as it were, demanding the promotion that is rightfully mine whilst my bards and minstrels catalog my glorious accomplishments and sing accolades to the wonder that is me.

I’ll give you a moment for that imagery to set in.

This is what I can, and intend, to do. First, I’ve been keeping track of the things that I have done to benefit the company. I have participated in and even led minor projects successfully that my internal customers are now benefiting from. Next, I will sit down with my manager and outline these accomplishments, emphasizing both the benefit to the company and the translation to job skills that are required by the position I am seeking.

You may ask, “Shouldn’t your manager know all that already?” The reality is that, due to exceptional circumstances, I’ve spent 3½ months under my first manager, 1½ months without an official manager, 3½ months under my second manager, and now ½ a month under my third manager (who I will likely be reporting to for a while to come). However, even if I’d have had the same manager for the past 9 months I would not expect my manager to just know that I feel I’m ready for a promotion and why I believe I deserve it. Repeat after me: “If you can back it up then it’s not bragging. It’s a dissertation.” I just have to make sure that I stick to supporting my thesis or it might turn into bragging. If I can meet with my manager and engage her in open, honest dialogue, then we can at least get on the same page. But if I don’t “toot my own horn”, she’s not likely to hear anything.
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