This question is the topic of a recent article in Harvard Business Review, “Are You The Victim of An Invisible Promotion?” by Ron Ashkenas.
The post poses some direct questions to the reader about whether or not your role has changed significantly in the past six months and whether you have been given new responsibilities with no formal promotion or pay raise. Ashkenas reminds us that the practice of assigning more responsibility without changes in job title or description has become more common lately due to the reorganization and downsizing of companies.
I suppose that any of us who have survived downsizing feel very fortunate to still have a job. In this situation, we are more likely to take on more responsibility without a promotion because we not only feel lucky to have a job, but also somewhat vulnerable and sensitive to the instability of the company and the economy. We want to keep our jobs.
That being said, we also need to realize the value that we bring to our company and not let the fact that we have taken on more responsibility go unnoticed.
Ashkenas has some great advice:
…don’t wait for your boss or someone else to recognize that you’ve been invisibly promoted. Revise your job description or create some bullet points about what the job now entails. Have an honest discussion with your immediate supervisor about what it will take to achieve these expanded responsibilities, how you will develop the skills needed, what you may need to do differently, and what he or she can do to help.
I think that Ashkenas’s article has a special message for professional women. In my opinion and from my own business and coaching experience, I have witnessed that many women have difficulty standing up for what they want and need. Women are more likely to take on extra work without requesting a visible promotion or salary increase. In fact, I would go so far as to say that women are more likely to take on the responsibilities and wait to be noticed and recognized without taking the credit or taking the initiative to have a conversation and negotiate a better title and compensation.
One of the most significant mistakes that professional women make is believing that if they work hard and do a good job, someone will recognize and reward them.
Talent and experience are not enough. Hard work is not enough. We must learn to speak up for ourselves and communicate to others our value and accomplishments in order to advance our careers.
..make your invisible promotion visible both to you and to your boss. It will give you the recognition you deserve and the support you need to make sure that you don’t unintentionally become a victim of the Peter Principle.
I might add to this: Don’t be the victim of the assumption that if you remain invisible others will recognize and reward you.