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Hate Feeling Undervalued at Work? Take Action Now

undervalued

Table of Contents

Introduction

 

You are feeling undervalued but you know you’re doing a great job.

You assume your manager has noticed and that you will get that pay rise/promotion/recognition or even a thank you.

But they aren’t noticing and the pay rise/promotion/recognition or thank you isn’t forthcoming. You don’t want to lose heart but it’s just not happening and you either feel uncomfortable blowing your own trumpet or you’re not even getting the chance to.

You’re feeling undervalued so if you want to take charge of your career then carry on reading.

Get Feedback

 

Before embarking on any plans to propel your career forward, it’s crucial to assess whether your self-perception aligns with how others perceive your behaviour and abilities.

A highly effective method for gaining this insight is through 360-degree feedback from individuals whose opinions hold significance.

To initiate this process, consider gathering feedback from a diverse group, including your manager, colleagues, and members of your team.

Creating a survey using platforms like SurveyMonkey, available for free at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/mp/360-employee-feedback-survey-example/, allows you to systematically collect valuable perspectives.

This feedback will serve as a foundational step in understanding your professional standing and will guide your career acceleration strategies.

Upon receiving feedback, you’ll gain insights into both your strengths and areas for development, enabling you to proactively address any challenges you may be facing.

Now, let’s explore some of the typical situations individuals encounter when experiencing a sense of undervaluation.

Potential scenarios that make you feel undervalued

You consistently miss out on promotions, or after temporarily stepping into a higher role. They opt to bring in someone else permanently, resulting in your return to your previous position.

This situation can be incredibly disheartening, right?

You were entrusted with the role for six months, only to find out later that you weren’t considered for the position permanently.

It raises questions – did they know you aspired to the role? Or did they assume you had other commitments outside of work? Frequently, individuals step into a temporary role hoping that their performance will secure them a permanent position. However, they may find themselves replaced by someone else for reasons unclear.

Take proactive steps: once assigned an acting role at a higher level, schedule a meeting with your manager. Inquire about the criteria for permanent consideration – what qualities are they looking for? Will the role be advertised, and do they support your intention to apply?

This positions you favourably in the interview process, armed with knowledge about their expectations and leveraging your experience against other candidates.

While they’ve entrusted you with the interim role, don’t assume a permanent position is guaranteed. Clearly express your interest and consistently check in with your manager during the cover period to ensure your performance aligns with their expectations.

If you find yourself back in your previous role working alongside the newly recruited individual, incorporate a question in your 360-degree feedback: “How likely would you be to recommend me for promotion?”

This provides insights into perceptions of your readiness.

Additionally, request a meeting with the recruiting line manager to understand why you weren’t considered suitable. They might not have been aware of your interest, or assumptions may have been made about your preferences. This proactive approach can help avoid the disappointment experienced by others in similar situations.

 

Your line manager or your colleagues take credit for your or your team’s work. You want to speak up but don’t want to rock the boat.

I once had a colleague who consistently presented my team’s results as her own during her weekly updates.

Despite my efforts to address the issue privately, it persisted. After cancelling our update calls, she was caught off guard when the MD sought an update, and she had to admit she was unaware of the current numbers. I took the opportunity to present the results myself, emphasising the need for accountability in our work.

In another role, I shared a cost-saving idea over coffee with a colleague, who later presented it as their own to the MD. The personal assistant, who overheard our conversation, reached out to me confused about a presentation that sounded like my idea.

To address these situations:

  1. Stay Calm and Ask Questions: If someone is presenting your work as their own, remain composed. Instead of making accusatory statements, ask questions calmly during a private conversation. For example, inquire if the omission of your collaboration was intentional or seek clarification on why your idea was presented without proper credit.
  2. Managing Line Manager Situation: If your line manager is presenting your work, evaluate whether you are content with the expected credit during your performance review. If visibility to higher management is crucial, discuss it during your one-on-one meetings. If the issue persists, consider emailing your manager updates before meetings, and copying in your colleague to signal that presenting your work is futile.
  3. Direct Communication with Recipient: If your line manager is the source of the problem, consider going directly to the recipient of your idea, cc’ing your manager. This approach ensures that the appropriate credit is given.

It’s essential to navigate these situations with a strategic and measured approach to uphold accountability for your work.

People keep talking over you or interrupting you at meetings.

I strongly dislike this behaviour, as I perceive it as a lack of respect on their part. It’s a trend I’ve noticed, typically directed towards colleagues or individuals in lower management levels, rather than the MD or CEO. Perhaps it’s driven by a power dynamic, especially if the person exhibiting this behaviour is feeling insecure.

To address this issue:

  1. Colleague Interruption: If a colleague consistently talks over you, assertively interject by saying, “Sorry, can I just finish what I was saying?” This helps reestablish control of the conversation and allows you to continue your point.
  2. Understanding Senior Manager Behavior: If the person exhibiting the behaviour is your boss or another senior manager, seek insights from a trusted colleague who attends the same meetings.

Inquire whether there’s a specific reason behind the interruptions. It might be worthwhile to consider if your communication style needs refinement. Are you concise and to the point, or could there be room for improvement? If no feedback is provided, consider tactfully addressing the issue during a one-on-one meeting.

Taking these actions can help you regain control of conversations and, in the case of interruptions from higher-ups, provide valuable insights into potential areas for improvement in your communication style.

Related Reading: Hate Meetings? 14 Tips to Make Them Better

The individual leading the meeting, or your supervisor, appears attentive to others’ ideas but doesn’t seem interested in what you contribute.

Understand the reason behind your urge to speak. Are you compelled to talk merely for the sake of saying something? Sometimes, individuals feel the need to contribute without assessing whether their input holds any value.

To address this:  If you recognise the significance of what you’re about to say, a useful phrase is, “Excuse me, may I just say something?”

This approach often captures the attention of the meeting chair, who is unlikely to decline.

The ensuing pause allows you to share your thoughts. If your contribution is a valuable idea or something essential, your impact in that meeting, and potentially in future ones, is enhanced. Exercise discretion in leveraging these opportunities.

You don’t get opportunities to grow in your role.

What specific opportunities are you seeking?

When expressing your interest, avoid a generic request like “Please may I be considered for any opportunities.”

Instead, be specific about what you’re aiming for. For instance, if you’re interested in covering your boss’s annual leave, frame it as a developmental opportunity. If you aspire to mentor others, clearly state your intention and provide a rationale.

Pursuing opportunities and expressing a desire for more responsibility is commendable, and it won’t be viewed negatively.

If you encounter a rejection, inquire about the reasons behind it and take appropriate action based on the feedback. For example, if you’re interested in mentoring but your manager cites a lack of available time, propose alternatives such as mentoring after work hours or during a working lunch.

You don’t have the necessary resources or budget to achieve success, and you sense that you are deliberately set up for failure

If you find yourself without the necessary resources or budget to succeed and suspect a setup for failure, it’s crucial to understand why. Is it due to a lack of appreciation for your work or a perception that it’s not a top priority?

Take action:

If you genuinely believe that achieving your targets is unattainable with the given resources, avoid burning yourself out by working day and night.

Instead, assess what can be accomplished within the provided resources and budget. Rather than making broad statements about shortages, be specific. For instance, say, “With 4 people, I can complete A, B, and C, but D & E will be impacted.

What will be the consequences of not achieving D & E?” By posing a question, it prompts a response and opens the door to finding solutions, either through additional resources or a reconsideration of priorities.

You lack autonomy and are experiencing micromanagement, causing you to believe that your line manager lacks confidence in your ability to complete tasks independently.

Feeling micromanaged with limited autonomy can be frustrating and may suggest a lack of trust from your line manager. Determine whether this is a widespread practice or if it seems to be targeted at you.

Take action:

Initiate a conversation to understand the reasons behind the micromanagement.

Consider various perspectives, such as the possibility that your manager is ensuring perfection due to recognising your talent.

When discussing the issue, avoid accusations and instead inquire about why they need regular updates.

Alternatively, express your desire for more autonomy and accountability, proposing changes to the frequency or format of catch-up meetings to better suit your working style.

You’re informed that you are too valuable in your current position and cannot be spared to explore opportunities in a different role.

I haven’t witnessed this situation frequently, but when it does occur, it’s unfortunate. It happens when someone excels in their role, or the skill set is highly specific and rare, leaving no one qualified to take over.

To address this:

If you find yourself in this position, communicate with your line manager about the potential challenge they might face if you were to leave the company. Instead of presenting the problem alone, try to identify someone willing to learn the necessary skills under your guidance.

Presenting both the issue and a solution is more likely to capture your manager’s attention and prompt them to take proactive measures.

You don’t get invited to meetings even though the meeting relates directly to your work.

Is your manager familiar with your responsibilities?

Take action:

In the short term, request an invitation to the meeting from the organiser and clarify the value you bring.

For the long term, it’s essential to educate your manager and others about your team’s work. Schedule a one-on-one with your manager and inquire about the preferred method for keeping them updated.

In the case of an absent line manager, consider sending a weekly email with concise progress bullets instead of a detailed list. For senior managers, email bullets are effective for on-the-go reading, ensuring they stay informed. Keeping your manager in the loop is crucial; I’ve witnessed cases where people were let go, only for their critical role to be recognised, often after they’ve already departed.

You either know or suspect your colleagues are being paid more than you for doing the same job.

Navigating this situation can be challenging.

Discussing salaries is not common, making it difficult to confirm if your suspicions are accurate. I encountered a similar situation when I was placed in a talent pool and swiftly promoted three times within a year.

Upon reaching the Consultant level, I discovered I was earning £10,000 below the minimum salary. It took three years to reach the minimum, and by then, I was an experienced Consultant, assisting colleagues who were earning significantly more than me.

In larger companies, bureaucratic constraints may limit the percentage increase in salary. Nevertheless, it’s essential to have a conversation with your manager about this matter. The article linked below from Monster provides valuable insights on securing a pay rise in the UK: How Can I Secure a Pay Rise?

Feeling undervalued can stem from various scenarios, and the ten mentioned above are just a few I’ve encountered. For additional advice on addressing such situations, especially if you’ve received feedback indicating development gaps, consider exploring the following actions.

Be Proactive

How do you respond when things don’t unfold as expected? Does it fuel your determination, or do you tend to attribute setbacks to circumstances or others?

In moments of crisis, do you take charge, or do you assume that your manager either doesn’t need your assistance or that there’s someone better suited to resolve the issue?

Are you hesitant to apply for new opportunities due to a belief that you won’t succeed, or is it simpler to remain where you are, hoping for improvement?

Rather than letting fear of failure hinder your progress, consider viewing deviations from plans as valuable feedback.

Thomas Edison, in his pursuit of the electric light bulb, famously stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

J.K. Rowling faced rejection from 12 publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted her first Harry Potter book. The key is not to give up, avoid excuses, and persist even when faced with rejection.

Be proactive in advancing your career. Opportunities won’t simply land in your lap. Actively seek them out, express interest, volunteer for tasks, and go above and beyond to garner attention.

Embrace flexibility in both your approach and behaviour.

The most successful individuals, both in life and business, exhibit flexibility in their behaviours.

Flexibility in approach means being open to new ideas, methodologies, and strategies, acknowledging that what worked in the past may not be the most effective solution for present circumstances.

As the saying goes “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got” So if what you are doing to get your manager’s attention isn’t working then do something different.

Recognising that diverse personalities, working styles, and communication preferences exist, flexible behaviour enables individuals to tailor their approach to different situations and colleagues.

Additionally, taking a flexible approach means you will be better equipped to adjust your strategies, manage stress, and maintain a constructive mindset.

Take responsibility for communication

 

So often I see mistakes made in business where one person assumes something and doesn’t communicate it very well. It can lead to duplication and misunderstanding.

If you want a great reputation and recognition for the work you and the team are doing then no one is better placed to communicate this than you. You can’t assume your work will speak for itself and that eventually you will be noticed.

So if you’re going to be proactive in your communication to increase your visibility then you need to decide what you want people to know before you can even create a communication and engagement strategy.

Is your project going well? Has your team exceeded their targets? What do you want to happen once your value has been acknowledged? Are you hoping it will lead to a promotion or a pay rise?

Decide what you are going to communicate keep it concise and focussed. This can be

  • a weekly 15-minute call or meeting with your manager. Make sure you pick a time they are least likely to cancel so don’t pick a Monday if that is their busiest day.
  • An email with a bulleted progress report at the end of each week.
  • A slot at the monthly team meeting.

This approach ensures effective communication, maximizing impact and recognition of your efforts.

Is it time to move on?

Ultimately, recognise your worth. If you find it impossible to attain what you need in your current situation, it might be the right moment to consider moving on.

Avoid waiting passively, hoping for improvements that may never come. I’ve encountered numerous individuals who regretted not deciding to leave sooner, and I’ve personally been in that situation as well.

If your presence is not appreciated where you currently are, it’s a sign to consider departing and hoping that your absence makes them recognise and value your contributions.

Prioritising your worth and well-being may lead to more fulfilling opportunities elsewhere.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is crucial to recognise that your perception of your performance and the perceptions held by others, including your manager, may not align.

To bridge this gap, seeking feedback from others becomes essential. It is equally important to not view unexpected feedback as a failure but rather as an opportunity for growth.

Incorporating constructive feedback into a well-structured personal development plan ensures a strategic approach to enhancing your skills and addressing areas of improvement.

Effective communication is crucial in getting your worth recognised. It plays a significant role in ensuring that you are acknowledged for the value you bring. Define what you want to convey and to whom, keeping the messages clear and concise.

It is important to remain flexible and adjust plans if initial strategies are not yielding desired results. However, if despite all efforts, the situation remains unchanged. It might be necessary to cut your losses and explore new opportunities in a different role.

Ultimately, this proactive and adaptable approach to self-improvement and communication will contribute to long-term career success and satisfaction.

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you found it useful. Why not sign up for the newsletter below and get all articles and top business tips delivered directly to your inbox.

Suzanne Powell

Business Consultant

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Suzanne Powell

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Our actionable tips are designed to deliver real results. Implement them to enhance your operations, increase profits, and achieve your goals. We promise not to bombard your inbox & you can unsubscribe at any time

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