This article could also be more aptly called, "4 Tips on How to Get Praise, Be Humble and Keep Morale High on Your Team" ... FTOHTGPBHAKMHOYT for short. But that's long, and I kind of like the snarky article title. Forgive me!
Here are four tips on how to be awesome in the workplace, how to get more praise for your awesomeness, how to be fine with not being given a gold star for your awesomeness, and tactfully sharing the awesome with your colleagues.
Don't expect pats on the back for "good" jobs.
If you have simply completed a task and marked it off of your to-do list, what have you done to earn special praise or attention? Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with thanking someone for a job well done or for performing their duties, and everyone should feel great about being a competent contributor. But you'll need to do better than just "good" to warrant a special pat on the back.
Chances are, you work with a lot of extremely bright, talented, ambitious individuals, and it can be hard to get the recognition you feel you deserve in that giant pool of talent. Oftentimes, you need to be excellent and go above and beyond the job description or task at hand. You need to add value to the task beyond just doing the bare minimum. If you were expecting glowing praise after completing a task and the praise never came, I urge you to ask yourself, "Did I give this 110 percent? Did I do the absolute best I could do? Did I exceed this person's expectations?" If the answer to all those questions is yes, then are you speaking up and successfully communicating your accomplishments to the team or your leaders?
(All that said, there is lifelong value in understanding when enough is enough and to stop working on something. Don't become the artist who keeps touching up the painting until they ruin it. Know when it's finished, and then hands off. If you give everything you have to a single task, you won't have much left over to give 110% - or even 100% - to the next task.)
Win or lose, be graceful.
You are not always going to be the shining star. Sometimes others are going to outperform you. Your idea is not always going to get picked. Sometimes others' ideas are going to take the lead. And that's ok. You won't the best at everything. Sometimes you are going to be the winner, or you're going to outperform those around you. And that's ok too. Enjoy your success. But regardless of who's in the lead at any given moment on any given task or project or job title, you owe it to yourself and those around you to be graceful about it.
Demonstrating humility and gratitude from first place goes a long way in keeping morale high on the team (and making you a generally likable human being). Demonstrating poise from last place shows your good character and team-player attitude. Don't let a single win or loss define you. Regardless of the outcome of any decision, competition, promotion or other office situation, gracefully support and encourage one another.
Look at it this way: Any time you don't come in first place is simply an opportunity for someone else to get their chance to shine.
Teach, but tactfully.
You're a smart person. You know lots of things, you're a good decision-maker, and you have all sorts of systems or tricks to making your coworkers' jobs easier. You badly want to share these efficiencies or bits of knowledge you've found for the betterment of the team. (Totally justified, right?) But they didn't exactly ask for your help, and it offends them when you try to force it on them. How can you share those skills or that knowledge without being a condescending jerk-face and making your coworkers feel stupid?
First and foremost, remember that not only are you great at things, but they are great at things, too, but maybe not the same things. The first way to share your knowledge is through a quid pro quo - allow them to teach you something they know, or at least demonstrate their knowledge and competence in the area, and acknowledge it. The next thing you can do is be the absolute best you can be in the office. Chances are, your managers or leadership will see you shining and recommend that other employees who are struggling in those areas reach out to you for suggestions or training. Third is to speak up in meetings or brainstorms where questions have been posed and you can benefit the conversation - that way you're just a contributing team member in the group dialogue, not someone forcing their personal knowledge on everyone all the time.
Lastly, remember that even though you can make suggestions or train someone on certain skills or techniques, unless you're their boss you can't force them to take the suggestion. Maybe your way just doesn't work best for them, or any other number of reasons they choose not to take your suggestions. Don't continue to criticize or pester them about it. Your guidance has to end and their personal commitment has to begin somewhere. Let it go and let them stand (or fall) on their own. Who knows, they could end up piggybacking on your way of doing things and come up with something even better.
Don't demand praise. Give it.
It's hard to watch someone else take all the credit when you feel you've made a huge contribution or did all the work, especially when others around them are heaping on the praise and you didn't get so much as a nod. In some cases, the volume or caliber of the work truly warrants a private conversation perhaps congratulating the person on their success, but also reminding him or her that you were a key contributor and that you would have appreciated a shout-out. But in most cases, it's not a battle worth fighting.
People who do the work for the sake of great work and to do the right thing by their team and clients do not expect constant praise and credit. They do great work because it's the right thing to do. Demanding praise or credit every time can send the message that you are insecure in your abilities or productivity, or that you are solely an attention-seeker. In my opinion, the best way to get praise and recognition is to give it.
Once again, lead by example. Find examples where your colleagues are doing great work and achieving great things, and make it a point to praise them either publicly or privately (depending on their comfort level). Put in enough time and effort to make praising your colleagues for their achievements a priority, and they will begin to recognize how good it feels when you do. Watch - they will likely begin returning the favor to you, and paying it forward to those around them.