You have learned what you need in school, graduated and got a good job. You probably got your dream job. This is exactly what you were told would happen: you study hard, pass your exams then get employed.

But what if your employer doesn’t recognize your input?

You started working at the lowest level but have a desire to be part of the top management. How will you get there if the one who can help you up the ladder doesn’t know how hard you are working?

This is the situation in far too many companies.

The employee base is robust and the boss is spoiled for choice as to who best deserves the promotion. He picks someone believed to be good yet you know you are better. But how do you prove it?

The first thing you need to do is walk away from feelings of inadequacy. Just because you don’t get noticed by your boss for your excellent work doesn’t mean that you fall short in your performance.

Therefore, avoid negative self-talk.


Since you may not always recognize when things are not going well, here are some things to look out for. When you experience any of these in your work, know that something is amiss.

You are never promoted

Promotions at work are very important. Apart from the extra money they come with, they also usher you into the next level of your career.

When you are promoted, you get into a more challenging position. A more challenging position ensures you grow as you get stretched. Likewise, when you don’t get promoted, you stagnate in your career. You certainly don’t want this.

The connection between promotions and your work is simple. You work hard enough and you come across as someone who is productive. And won’t a productive person bring more productivity to the company? Won’t he help the company achieve its goals?

As long as you are working hard, you should be getting the appropriate employee recognition. And one way of recognizing employees is by promoting them.

You haven’t received a raise recently

The pay you receive is usually taken to be an indicator of the value you are offering your company. Those who seem to offer more value get paid more while those who offer less, get paid less. This is just a principle by which the employment agreement works.

As a result, if you have been working for your employer for some years and haven’t received a raise, then you are not seen as adding more value than you were doing when you came in.

According to the person who is able to recommend you for more pay, you haven’t shown any signs of being worth more than you currently earn.

This can be a painfully sad thought when you think of the long hours you put in. You probably sweat it out the whole day. But considering that there is a principle at work, you really have to understand that this is a sign of something not being right.

Since principles rarely change, this is a cue for you that you, or something you are doing, needs to change.

Your boss does not consult you

No matter how experienced or knowledgeable your boss is, he doesn’t know everything. More than that, he will have moments of uncertainty and will definitely need some advice. He will need help making decisions.

How does that help come in?

Through consultations.

When your boss makes consultations in the office, he is looking for valuable input into the decision-making process. He wants to move but isn’t completely sure which direction to take. He thus asks for thoughts and opinions to weigh the pros and cons from other people’s perspectives.

And this is where certain people come in. Obviously, not everyone will be consulted, but there are those who will be. If someone being consulted is at the same level as you are and you are not consulted, then a message is being sent.

If it happens once, no problem. But twice, thrice…all the time? Something is wrong.

Your boss is simply saying that he doesn’t think you can give any valuable input in that matter. It is possible that your boss actually knows you do some work. But it is not good enough to draw his attention. That is why he just keeps you out of it.

Does your boss ask for other people’s opinions and not yours?

Don’t worry, you will shortly learn how to solve that problem.

He doesn’t discuss ideas with you

Bosses don’t just ask for opinions when it comes to situations they are not completely sure about. They also discuss the ideas they are sure about. The ideas they have already decided to implement. They may do this for various reasons. Below are two common ones:

  • To allow for participation and ownership of the idea so that staff members feel part of the changes or decisions being made. This can be a critical step especially when the organization is about to make a big decision or major changes in their way of operation. The thoughts shared and concerns raised will then be taken into account and help shape the progress of the company.
  • To refine the idea before or while undergoing implementation for increased productivity. Raw ideas are usually great though they may be having some rough edges which need to be smoothed out.

Such discussions usually include a select team of representatives or random people asked for opinions. It largely depends on the individual company’s communication policies and how people interact.

If there are new ideas being discussed between your boss and colleagues, and you are not part of it, you have every reason to be concerned.


None of the situations described above, and many others like them, is desirable. Not only can they leave you feeling unwanted, in effect, they make you question your career choice and employment.

You will then be unable to grow in your career as well as have personal development since no-one or nothing is facilitating it.

There is hope anyway. The future is bright if you are willing to make some changes in the way you have been going about your work.

As it is said, change is the only thing which is constant. In other words, change will always be happening. And although this is usually said to those unwilling to embrace external change, internal change is also always happening. In fact, internal change is necessary.

Something else, do not let your personality get you stuck in the current situation. Personalities are not cast on stone. They can be changed. Of course not to the extent that an introvert becomes an extrovert, but small meaningful changes can be done.

These will result in significant differences in your life. For example, you may be an introvert and think you can’t talk unless when answering a question. Probably what you need to do is overcome shyness. Once this is done, you will largely remain an introvert but one who can express himself.

Make your boss know it

You can make your boss recognize your work. This is the most direct way of going about it. It is however not direct in the sense that you will just go into his office and tell him how hard you are working.

The idea is to communicate it directly to him though in a smart way. You have to remember that he is your boss, not a mere colleague or your junior. As such, respect is key.

Apart from knowing how to conduct yourself before your boss, also consider your organization’s communication style. Within this style, find out how your boss prefers being communicated to.

There are several ways of doing this. Below are some:

1. Schedule for meetings – this is an important part of the plan since you need to be sure that he has time to listen to you. If your boss has a personal assistant, use that channel. Make a request for some time and mention what the meeting will be about.

This has to be brief. You can plan for 10 minutes. During this time, keep your communication short and direct. Give precise explanations of what you have done and the impact of your actions. Most importantly, ensure you give him some numbers.

2. Get his attention before he gets to his office – this is for the bosses who don’t seem to value schedules. Those who make their plans in their minds and call into their office whoever they want to have a word with. If something is not important to him, he may not talk about it.

Get to the office early and learn his routines. What time does he come in? Does he say hi to the staff? Check with the secretary/receptionist first or does he go straight into his office?

Armed with this knowledge, you can plan a ‘coincidental’ meeting with him.

Since this kind of a boss is busy, have only the most important things to say. Straight away give him the valuable information and make it interesting. For example, after he responds to your greeting, say, “By the way, I met with the new oil supplier yesterday and he agreed to sell to us at 10% discount”.

3. Send him an email – if your boss rarely engages with people face-to-face, this is the method to use. Come up with a list of the things you want him to know. Draft an email and keep the language formal. As with the other methods, keep the email brief and straight to the point.

Do not write one long paragraph of your points. List them down properly and where applicable, in their order of relevance. If one thing lead to another, write them in that order.


Do not bombard your boss with information. If this is the very first time you are reaching out to him, start slowly. Do not be in a hurry to get feedback and don’t ask him for his thoughts. Do not let it be seen as though you are in need of his attention.

Make your work results-oriented

The result of your work will always speak loud. Of course, there are instances where you need to broadcast your achievements a little. However, in most cases, you won’t have to. But since your achievements aren’t being noticed, here is a subtle way of starting your campaign.

If you are in the sales team, don’t focus on the number of clients you call or meet. Focus on the number of deals you seal. If you are in charge of looking for new markets, then don’t just get new markets. Get those which are promising.

Interview people in those markets to know what they want, don’t want, have interacted with etc. Fully understanding your company’s product or service, you will quickly be able to know whether that market is viable for your company. This enables you to make decisions early and move quickly.

You will therefore spend less time with a lead who would never have turned into a buyer. This extra time you saved then goes to building rapport with the lead who will actually buy.

When your work brings in results, your boss will certainly take notice. You will not even have to talk. If you impress your new clients, they will at one point interact with your boss and mention you.

This means you have to hone your skills. Be it negotiation skills, marketing or other skill required in your field, you will need to improve on them. When you improve yourself, you become better. Being better means bringing more or better results.

If you are bringing in better results, recognition is sure to follow.

Make his life easier

Bosses are generally busy people. Whereas you are an individual employee, your boss has his own work as well as that of overseeing other people’s work. This means that he has more work than you do.

Although some bosses don’t spend much time in the office, interacting with them will confirm that they are busy. So how do you make a busy person notice not just you, but also your work?

By making his life easier.


This can be challenging if you are not his PA. But since going through the secretary is possible, then that’s the route you should take.

Familiarize yourself with his schedule. Where is he going? Who is he meeting? At what time?

The purpose of this is not to snoop on your boss, but to gather relevant information for your action. When for example you know he plans to meet a certain business partner who interacts with your department, find out what he might need for that meeting and provide it.

Could he need sales figures for a negotiation? Have sales increased and he is looking to increase the purchases? Has sales dipped and so he is looking to extend the credit period?

For maximum benefit, you may also need to interact with other departments to know what is going on.

For example, some interactions with the logistics team may guide you into knowing that shipments are experiencing delays. The finance team may help you know that you are paying more for goods from a certain supplier yet his products are not profiting the business.

You can then make a quick mention about these concerns to your boss before he meets the supplier.

You could tell him, “I learned about your upcoming meeting with supplier X and was hoping you could discuss his prices. Most retailers, including us, have recorded low sales since supplier Y came into the market. To push the perishable stock, we will do some promotions but need an incentive from him.”

Touch the lives of customers and colleagues

Businesses and organizations exist to provide solutions. The more a business solves a problem, the more relevant it becomes. The more efficiently it does this, the more profitable it becomes.

If your boss has not recognized you for the effort you put, it’s time you started thinking differently. Whereas your work contributes to the overall solution provided by your company, you can always go an extra mile.

The solutions provided target the people facing problems. However, problems don’t just exist outside your company. They are also present within the company.

The people outside the company experiencing problems are your customers. Those facing problems within the company are your colleagues. Your colleagues are working hard to solve your customers’ problems. As they do so, they also face personal or work-related problems.

Since solving people’s problems is a way of touching their lives, you are therefore in a position to do this. If you interact with customers, touch their lives. If only with colleagues, then touch their lives.

How to touch the lives of your customers

You touch lives by simply understanding and helping them at a personal level. This means going beyond the defined corporate goals. This is not defining your own scope of work but going a little further so as to be able to make your results more relevant.

For example, you may be working in the customer service department of a software-selling company. You are tasked with helping your customers use the product when they get stuck. This is something you can do well since you have been adequately trained.

But you shouldn’t stop at answering questions. As much as you can relate clients questions to aspects of your product, seek to understand their exact problem. Listen to them. Take some extra minutes to  find out the root cause of the problems they face.

This is the core of building relationships with your customers. When you listen and empathize with them, they feel helped more than if you just gave them answers and did nothing more. In the end, they will stop seeing you as a product seller and more like a business partner. Even a friend.

And that is when you will have struck gold. These clients will give their commendations to your boss and when a customer speaks well of you, you can be sure your boss will listen. A positive comment from a customer will make your boss pay more attention to what you are doing. He may even ask your colleagues to consult you.

How to touch the lives of your colleagues

You can also touch the lives of those you work with. This will especially work well to propel you towards a promotion.

You can do this by helping your colleagues succeed in their work. It could be something as simple as lending them your skills. Or simply being a great co-worker.

If you are skilled in analysis, you could help the marketing team analyze the sales figures. You can help the procurement team in negotiating with suppliers. You could utilize your logic in helping the IT guys identify the cause of a bug in the system.

These actions are outside your normal work but ultimately help achieve the overall goal. When your colleagues see the value you add, somewhere along the conversations, your boss will get to know about it.

Make contributions

You are only as good as what you have inside you. And how good the thing you have is, can only be known once you bring it out.

If there is a staff meeting, a brainstorming meeting or other kind of gathering at work, do not hold back your opinions or ideas. Not only are they a reflection of what you are thinking, they are also potentially good solutions.

When you voice your thoughts and give suggestions on how to solve problems, it will be understood that that is how you solve your own problems. And if those suggestions are great, then your work must be great too.

Let your boss notice the ideas coming from you. Explain them well enough to be understood by all. Give practical ways through which the ideas may be implemented and everything else will work out.

Of course you also need to be careful with this, especially if there are colleagues who prey on other people’s ideas. This is just part of the diverse characteristics of the people you are working with.

Be wise in communicating your idea. Although being the source of it gives you a better understanding of how it can work out, someone may take it and run with it. Give the core of it but keep some aspects of implementation to yourself.

Hopefully, if the idea is adopted, you will form part of the team implementing it. If you are not included in the team, don’t worry much about it, you already have the credit of being the source. Maybe your boss is yet to see your work but has at least seen your thought line.

Keep in mind that you will be better off operating subtly so as to avoid raising eyebrows. Avoid making the change in your actions drastic. Otherwise you may be seen as trying to fight someone. If this happens, you will just end up with rejected ideas.


Since you are working hard for the growth of your company, it is only fair that you get the appropriate recognition. Take this advice and move with speed to avoid a stalled career.

How to Ensure Your Boss Knows How Hard You Work

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