- Working hard isn't always enough to get a promotion or a pay raise.
- Employers expect this from every employee regardless.
- To stand out, you need to know how to communicate your achievements to others.
To get a raise or a promotion, you usually have to do more than just what's in your job description.
Writer Kate Lister explained that this is something everyone is forced to realize at some point.
"How old were you when you realised your original plan of being really nice, working really hard, & taking on much more than you should in the hope you would be automatically rewarded for this without asking, was totally shit?"
It's not that working hard is a bad thing in itself; the problem is that it doesn't distinguish you in an environment where everyone else is working hard as well.
"At a certain point you look around and realise, wow, everyone works hard at this level. Expertise and hard work just become the expectation, and will not help you up the ladder," Jeff Shannon, author of Hard Work is Not Enough, told the BBC.
This is where office politics comes into play.
The key is to know how to show that you're doing an excellent job. Otherwise, no one is going to notice.
Carol Frohlinger, president of employment consultancy Negotiating Women, Inc, explained to the BBC that there's a dangerous trap good workers can fall into, called the "tiara effect."
"People work really hard and deliver fabulous results and hope that the right people notice and come along and place a tiara on their heads. But that usually doesn't happen," she said.
"One of the things that can happen to people who do good work and nothing else is that they're under the radar. So, when there's an opportunity for promotion, nobody thinks of them. They're just forgotten, in a benign sort of way," she continued.
From a young age, students are taught that they must be quiet to please teachers. As teachers reward students who behave well and don't mess up in class, when they grow up they think the same thing will happen at work.
It's frustrating to realize that this strategy doesn't work at all. So it's important to get noticed and get your good work out there.
This can be even harder for women
Frohlinger explained that this is particularly difficult for women.
"For women, it can be seen as bragging, and bragging women can be punished," she said.
You can't always wait around for your next performance review to show off your achievements, as these are often far too infrequent to make much difference.
The key is to give frequent updates to your superiors about your progress.
"It could be just a quick email with some bullet points: here are my wins, and here's what they did for us," Frolingher said.
"Here's why it was helpful for our team, or how it saved the company money," she added.
Don't do this too often, however, and make sure you use phrases like "my team and I," she said.
Sometimes even this isn't enough.
"If you want to have impact and influence, people need to trust and believe in you," said Shannon.
"You need to be seen as a leader," Frohlinger said.
"You need to be liked: by people at your level, by people above you and by people below you. When you evaluate work, the research is quite clear – people who are liked get better ratings, even if their work is the same," she continued.
It's only natural that people with good skills and who are more liked will look better at their jobs than those with the same skills who haven't put in the effort to make friends in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can improve your standing at work.
"You need to think about how to connect with people other than just on the work," said Frohlinger.
"Do we have a shared hobby or interest? Let's say I know you like gardening, and I see this gardening article and I send it to you. That's pretty simple, but you're going to like me more," she went on.
Some people may be uncomfortable with this kind of thing, but it's vital if you really do want to get on in your career.