Are you familiar with that uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach that arises when you sense that others are being valued more highly than you are? Do you feel overlooked for your skills, strengths, and knowledge? Do you dwell on whether you might be valued more in another organization or even another profession? I have coached many women around this perceived underestimation of their value as they consider a premature career shiFt. When I use the word premature, I mean that you must first be able to recognize your own value – and speak to it – before assuming that others know or even understand your unique value proposition. The first thing you must do is determine your own value. This requires you to have self-awareness and the ability to speak to your strengths and put them on the table.
In working with clients, this is one area I have found many women have a significant blind spot. Even if they have amassed significant expertise, they might still be unable to identify or speak to the true value they bring to a position or an organization. This leads to difficulty in negotiations, obtaining necessary resources, and can lead to strained relationships. One of the most important reasons to know the unique value you add to an organization is that it will allow you to recognize when your leader, team, or organization is underestimating you. You will be unable to quell that persistent feeling that you are not being seen or heard.
Once you know your unique value, shout it from the rooftops! Let people know who you are and what your strengths are. This is the only way you can become valued!
The next step is to assess whether you have the potential to have your value recognized by the team or organization. I love to think of it as a four-quadrant graph with your skill level on the x-axis, low to high, and the ability of the organization to recognize and allow you to exercise your strengths on the y-axis, low to high. The sweet spot is the upper right corner where you have the skills AND you are allowed to use them. What might stand in your way?
The first obstacle is in not being provided with a platform for your message to be heard. There is no way to get the message out. There may also be limited time with the boss and no clear path to carry initiatives forward. There may even be intentional attempts to silence important ideas as competing interests fight for time and attention.
The second obstacle is failure to be provided with appropriate resources. This could be in the form of money, human resources, or otherwise. This will be especially problematic when there are mandated deliverables of the position, but no resources to meet expected goals. It might even be perceived by the organization that relationship capital alone will allow goals to be addressed, even as others are being more appropriately resourced. If making something out of nothing is not your unique value, and for most of us it is not, then it should not be expected that your profile alone will get the job done. You need a voice and you need resources.
The third obstacle is being paid less than you are worth. I have worked with clients who were paid less for the same time commitment. This speaks loud and clear to the point that expertise in an area is not valued as highly as expertise in other areas.
The fourth and final obstacle is not being included as a valuable member of the team. While others are invited to important events and meetings, you are not. You are not asked to contribute unless there is something specifically related to your area of expertise. Others might even be asked to comment on your area of expertise to the exclusion of what you have to say! They may be asked to refute your contributions. Again, if you do not know your strengths, it may seem as if others should be allowed to silence your voice or exclude you from the team. The first step in knowing if you are being underestimated or undervalued is in knowing your own unique value.
I look forward to your thoughts on this!
Don’t miss the last episodes on the She Knowns ShiFt podcast: