We’ve been hearing the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease for decades now, meaning that the noisiest people are the most likely to get attention. I am certain we can all recall hundreds of examples where this has proven true, whether that be in our personal or professional lives. The middle child screamed, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” or the top earning sales rep wants a standing desk. Whatever the case, many of us draw negative connotations around being the squeaky wheel. We want to keep our heads down, do good work and wait for someone to come by and give us a “that a boy!”
The reality is, hard work does not always pay off. A survey from Accenture showed that the majority of Americans believe that hard work and putting in crazy hours earns them a ticket to a promotion. Why would we think any differently? Those undertones are deeply rooted in American culture. The harsh truth is; your boss does not put hard work at the top of their list when it comes to considering you for a promotion. When executives were queried not one said “hard work” when asked about the main behaviors they look for within their staff. This leads us to ask, “What in the hell do they want from me then?”
While I am in no way advocating you stop working hard, I am telling you to take a lesson from that squeaky wheel and stop keeping your successes quiet. Your work will not speak for itself no matter how brilliant it may be. Make sure senior leadership understands the energy you put into your role and the results you produce. You owe it to yourself and most importantly to your team.
I remember working on a project in my last role “working for the man.” A group of us were implementing a new HRIS software and we worked painstakingly for months on end. The install went off without a single issue and once it was all said and done, we did not get a single, “good job,” from anyone. At first we were disappointed and then I realized, we didn’t tell anyone how hard we worked on this. For all they know we simply opened a canned software and clicked install. How can we expect them to understand the gravity of what could have happened should anything have gone wrong with the install if we didn’t tell them? Do they know the stats of successful vs crash and burns installs? Do they know how many 60 hour weeks we put in to pull this off?
You do not need to be a narcissist and constantly beat your accomplishments into their heads but believe me when I say they do not have time formulate lists of “Sally’s best accomplishments for today. “No one…. I repeat…NO ONE… can care about your success more than you.
STOP sitting quietly in the corner and start squeaking!
Your Rehabilitated HR Professional