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Over the last year I’ve found myself becoming increasingly invisible at work and would like to hear how others have addressed the situation.

I consistently provide help to others as a subject matter expert, work a lot of overtime to ensure the team as a whole is successful and basically go the extra mile regularly.

Unfortunately I’ve gone from being highly respected to being almost invisible, my efforts aren’t recognised and I don’t even receive a thank you these days. I’ve been doing it for so long that my efforts are now taken for granted.

Besides leaving the company is there any suggestions you have for addressing the situation?

  • Could you clarify in your question what you do, how (what you do to) you feel you’re going the extra mile regularly, and who recognized you that no longer does? – Mark C. Nov 4 '18 at 1:09
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    I think this will be very difficult to give a meaningful answer to, since there are so many unknown variables/nuances that we don't know (and can't possibly know) about. – Martin Tournoij Nov 4 '18 at 1:36
  • I just noticed your username. If that is how you think of yourself, that’s part of the problem. Be more of a salesman and sell yourself as something special! – Ernest Friedman-Hill Nov 4 '18 at 3:49
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    Whats the problem, this is what professionals strive for, it means they're on top of everything, no dramas, only would be a worry if pay doesn't keep rising. – Kilisi Nov 4 '18 at 4:32
  • Welcome new user. I completely agree with @Kilisi . Whenever we have someone as amazing as you working in a team, I thank God every day that that person is on the team. Unfortunately, I then grind my teeth for 5 hours about the incredibly high amount of money that one has to pay ultra-players like yourself. – Fattie Nov 4 '18 at 7:23
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This is not uncommon in IT. I've always compared it to flying a plane. When you're doing your job, nobody notices it. The plane just magically opens up when you are at your destination.

I suspect that your problem stems from the fact that you are simply not promoting yourself and are going to far to be helpful.

What? Going to far to be helpful? How is that possible? Isn't that my job?

You said it in your question: You've been doing a good job for so long that your standards have now become the norm at your workplace, and nobody gets praise for being normal.

In Star Trek, Kirk asks Scotty if he always pads his estimates, to which Scotty says that it's how he maintains his reputation as a miracle worker.

There's is a simple truth to that, you need to MANAGE EXPECTATIONS

Don't be TOO available. When people tap you for your expertise, don't make it look easy. Do a bit of self-promotion, talk like an auto mechanic who just described how difficult it was to track down the intermittent problem that turned out to be three things going on at once.

For the ones that don't even thank you, make them sweat a little. If they take you for granted, let them wait a little the next time they need you.

Well, I don't know if I can get to this today...

might be enough to get their attention.

Back to promoting yourself. I had someone reporting to me who was great. You sound just like him. The problem was he was servile to the point of obsequiousness. He didn't like to promote himself, and he didn't like to make waves. He nearly ended up losing his job.

Draw attention to yourself. When you go above and beyond, make sure that people know it. A coworker of mine corrupted one of her files and asked if I could fix it. I said the following WORD FOR WORD:

If anyone on this earth can, I can.

I said that in a joking, over the top tone, but it was true nonetheless, and she was sunk without my help. You need to be the one to make them understand it.

SO... TLDR

  1. Make yourself less available. Scarcity makes value
  2. Manage expectations, just because it's easy for you, doesn't mean it's easy, let your coworkers know your value
  3. Promote yourself, brag about your skills THIS BOOK shows just how to do that.
  4. Command respect. Have people who don't express thanks by having them make appointments with you. This demonstrates that your time is valuable.
  5. Cut back on the overtime. If you act like your time means nothing, you will be treated as such.

IN SHORT, if you act like a doormat, people will walk all over you.

  • Yes I work in I.T and have for many years. Sounds like good advice, thank you! – ServerMonkey Nov 4 '18 at 2:01
  • @RichardU Now I want to know what you said "word for word"... – Llewellyn Nov 4 '18 at 12:05
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The solution is simple,

  1. Ask for a (very substantial) raise. Keep it brief and use language like

"Hi Jim, as you know over the last 6 months my workload has increased incredibly. Bob, Bill, Ben and Barb rely entirely on me technically. I'm the lead and architect of my projects and now all of theirs. For this reason I'll need $(add 75% to your current salary), that will have to be starting from my next paycheck on Tuesday. However I need to ask you something. Realistically this should be retroactive for, say, 3 months at least. How do you feel about that?"

  1. If they say No, leave.

  2. If they say yes, when you just get a big salary increase is always the perfect time to look for a new, better and higher paying role. So as soon as you get the increase start shopping yourself.

In software, whether or not you are invisible, or have good feelings about the workflow, is not relevant. All that matters is your compensation.

You'll feel great when your pay for this contract is brought in to line with the work you're doing.


Interestingly there are two ways to approach this issue. The other answer by @RichardU exactly outlines the "other" way.

(Approach A) Get noticed; "'work' the workplace"; ensure management is aware of your work, promote yourself, take care not to be too helpful, get credit for everything, be dynamic in meetings .. and so on.

(Approach B) State how much money you want (almost always some figure vastly larger than the current figure) and get that (or leave). Continue to be a doormat (or .... whatever? .. who cares?), produce fantastic software, and see huge sums of money in your bank account.

I have to say that, IMO, in most fields these days, you have to take approach "A".

Fortunately for programmers, software is just so incredibly valuable and the market is so hot that you can just do "B".

All those books like "Shine in the workplace!" "Act for Success!" etc are more for non-programmers ;-)

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