The advice to counter Myth #2 - If I do a great job, I’ll get promoted – was to visibilise your work. Then, what sharing all the details about the work we do is a problem?
Let me show you.
When I understood I needed to communicate more about the work I was doing, I totally embraced it. I’d go into my one-on-one meetings with my manager and, for each project I was working on, I detailed all my actions and next steps. That worked well when I was reporting to a micromanager or early in my career.
When I needed to report the progress on a task, ask or provide feedback, or raise a concern, I’d spend time crafting emails that read like essays: Introduction, development, and conclusion. If needed, I added the different solutions to a problem with all the facts to show I was doing a thorough job.
In theory, that’s perfect. But it didn’t work so well as I started to move up.
As I advanced in my career, I began to report to more senior managers. People that had a lot on their heads.
For example, in meetings, whilst in theory they should have arrived rested and prepared to listen, the reality was that most of them were tired, with a long to-do list for themselves, and a lot of pressure to deliver both on the strategic and the tactical items.
As for emails, most of them would read them on their smartphones, whilst switching from one meeting to another or munching their lunch.
I began to realize that my style was not helping me or my managers. The proof? After spending a lot of effort writing the most detailed email asking for feedback, I’d receive a reply like “Awesome!” or “What’s the ask?”.
Rather than an effective employee, I was perceived as a “detailed” worker.
To make the long story short, I began experimenting with my communication style. Instead of focusing on demonstrating the thorough job I was doing, I let my interlocutor guide me on how to communicate with them based on their priorities, level of attention, and their own communication style.
And it paid off!
There is not a magic bullet but there is something you can start implementing right now: Spend time crafting the subject line of your emails so the receiver knows exactly what to do with them. You’ll convey to them that you care about their time and attention.
For example, instead of the subject line “Re: RFP”
What about “[Feedback] Draft RFP for customer X - EOB Friday 28th October”?
Already in the subject line you’re letting the receiver know
- What do you need from them – e.g. Action, Feedback, FYI
- What’s the context – e.g. Draft RFP for customer X
- What’s the deadline – e.g. Deadline – EOB Friday 28th October
What are your tips for impactful communication?