There are times in my life when I’ve felt so frustrated by the lack of recognition I’ve been given at work.
Often it’s after I’ve been busting a gut, working long hours to hit a deadline to secure investment or deliver a project, and then once it’s delivered, I’ve been straight into the next project.
In some cases, I’ve been lucky, some “thank-you”s have been shared, and maybe even a team celebration, but somehow that doesn’t quite feel like the right amount of recognition for weeks or months of your life being out of balance.
I think the worst example of this was when we submitted the proposal for the follow on proposal for IGGI – a £16 million research initiative funding 60 games-industry based PhDs. The deadline for submissions was smack-bang in the middle of my honeymoon, which meant that as well as preparing to get married, we also had a shortened timescale for pulling together the bid (and the fact that my husband-to-be was the lead meant this impacted both of us).
We did it – both submitting the bid and winning the funding, but at the end of it all I really wondered if it was worth it…
…and this is where I want to make the shift from recognition to impact.
I didn’t get involved in the IGGI bid and throw myself into it just for the recognition. Sure, it would have been nice if there was a mechanism for the university to recognise the contributions of non-academics to major initiatives, but the real reason I got involved was that I could see the impact the project could have on the future of the games industry… and it’s only now, 4 years later, that that impact is starting to be seen.
Those PhD students have now been recruited and are doing their placements with industry partners. They’re taking their research expertise into the world and it’s starting to a difference… who knows where that will go from here. The students and games organisations have no clue who I am or my involvement in making it happen, but again, that wasn’t what it was about – I can see that the effort I put in to secure the funding is making a difference.
Running my own business has given me another perspective on recognition too.
I no longer have an employer to “give me” recognition when I go all out on a project. While that means I now make my own decisions on which projects to really commit to, I still sometimes need to push things out of balance to deliver a project or meet a deadline.
What I’ve realised is that there is one person who can always give me recognition for what I’ve done – and that’s me:
- I’m the one who can choose to celebrate my contribution.
- I’m the one who can give myself a break as a reward for all the hard work.
- I’m the one who can allow myself to revel in the sense of satisfaction of doing a great job and hitting an impossible deadline.
It’s not always easy to do this – it’s much easier to look outside of myself to how clients are reacting or the income I’m generating, especially when I’m feeling worn out, but I’m learning not to dismiss myself and the effort I’ve put in and to instead recognise that I’ve shown up and done my best.
And what I’m noticing is that I could have recognised my own contribution much more when I was employed. All the time I was looking to others to recognise my contribution, I was missing the opportunity to reward and recognise myself.
I’m not saying employers shouldn’t create recognition schemes for those employees that go above and beyond, but if you find yourself feeling frustrated by lack of recognition:
- ask yourself what you can do to recognise yourself – maybe it’s giving yourself a few days off, or treating yourself to a present (flowers, chocolates, a luxurious bath or even a meal out) or even something bigger.
- reconnect with why you got involved in the initiative in the first place and recognise the potential impact of your involvement, celebrate the ripples you’ve set in motion, knowing that you might need to give it time to emerge.
And notice that as you start to honour, reward and recognise yourself more, others seem to notice and recognise you more too.
If you ever feel you could do with an extra boost of recognition, my facebook group for women in tech is a great place to come and celebrate what you’ve achieved. Or if you’d like some personalised support to take a look at how you define success and where you look for recognition, book an initial conversation with me to find out how I can help.
And if you’d like to get these articles direct to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter here.