Earlier today I had a conversation with my new sales hire for Praxis that went something like this:
Me: “I just wanted to remind you to post your sales call notes publicly in the Slack channel.”
Chase: “Oh, I’ve just been recording them internally. I’ve spoken with X people today already.”
Me: “X?! Jesus. That is excellent. I had no idea.”
This reminded me of a time when I was almost fired for the first time by an early client I had.
I’d been doing a host of marketing services for them for a few weeks and things were going great, I thought. The problem was most of my work for them was behind the scenes stuff and I wasn’t providing clear updates of what I was doing.
While I thought I was making a lot of progress, the business owner was starting to get nervous.
Thoughts like “what’s this kid doing all day” were running through his mind.
It all led to one epic misunderstanding that ended in me saving the relationship at the last minute by showing him how much I had actually done.
This could have all been avoided if I had been providing regular updates during the weeks leading up to this clash.
At Praxis, we talk regularly about the importance of documenting your work as a young professional to share with the outside world. Participants are taught how to write effective blog posts, how to use social media strategically, and how to develop the beginnings of a strong personal brand.
Of equal, if not more importance, is the process of documenting your work for your coworkers, your employers, and your clients.
I reminded my sales rep today of an often forgotten truth: nobody will know the value you’re creating unless you share it with them. If you aren’t singing your own praise (without bragging), nobody else will.
His response perfectly captured the way most new employees go about this process:
“I just figured I’d keep updating my personal portfolio and then anyone could creep on it.”
What most new professionals don’t realize is that their coworkers are probably too busy to keep tabs on them. You’re just not that important. When I got started, I figured it was a given that everyone would just know what I was up to. We’ve been sort of conditioned into that way of thinking by years of schooling.
The reality is more like the hilarious scene from the movie Office Space where the guy gets fired because he can’t explain what he actually works on all day and nobody else knows either. Maybe he was valuable, maybe he wasn’t. We’ll never know and frankly, he’s to blame.
As a young professional, you never want to be in this position. What I realized and what I told my sales rep today is that it’s better to overcommunicate, especially in the beginning, than to be in the situation I was with my client.
Send your schedule to your team daily or make your calendar public. Provide weekly and monthly goals to the relevant parties. Let people know when you have a big win or when you’re working on something new. BCC your CEO on every email you send (I still do this).
People are usually scared to do this but I’ve found with rare exception do your coworkers find this annoying. When they do, they’ll let you know and you can change accordingly, but it’s far better to have to do this then to one day wake up and realize that everybody at the office thinks you’re slacking.
Over time, you’ll build up more trust and you won’t need to communicate so much, but this is something that has to be earned.