I normally do a lot. I deliver what I'm expected to deliver. That's the feedback I've received from all the bosses I've ever had. Speaking in catch phrases, I also go the extra mile. However, I've always had problems with lack of recognition for that. At some point I started signaling that something is more than I have to do in order for people to recognize it, but with limited success.

By contrast, when I signal that an additional task will have to wait since I have tasks prioritized, some people protest or even get angry with me no matter how I formulate it. They even escalate.

On the other hand, using a current example, I'm on a same project with a colleague, let's call him Bob. Apart from us there are 5+ people on the project but they are from different teams and their roles aren't comparable to ours.

Bob and I are on the same grade (that's how you measure the level of seniority/ salary and responsibility at my company).

Bob doesn't do much. Realistically speaking, if he disappeared from the team, the impact would be close to 0. He's been on the project longer than me. When I joined I turned to him for tasks/ deliverables that he in theory is responsible for. This never worked. He didn't deliver and I had problems. So I found work-arounds which mean more work for me. I have shared the situation with my boss but he's hesitant to take action.

Other people are used to Bob's playing a role of an observer more than a participant too.

When he does do something, which is normally for a higher-up, he gets praised a lot although it's normally something quite basic and one-time, not involving a lot of work.

What should I do to get recognition for my work? I need recognition to get more salary and promotion, both of which is important to me.

  • 15
    I'm not clear why you are so concerned with Bob's performance. He doesn't work for you and so he's not your responsibility. Focus on your own performance and stop worrying about Bob's.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 11:26
  • 12
    @jwh20, because his not doing his job means I have more work. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 11:32
  • 16
    @user5235923 why does it mean that you have more work? If Bob doesn't get his work done, that's a problem for your manager. If that ends up delayed a project then maybe your manager will do something about it. You can point to the work you've done, and the milestone that you've met, so it's absolutely clear where the issue is.
    – Gh0stFish
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 12:21
  • 4
    @EdwinBuck Those places seem to have completely missed the point of what Agile is about. Yikes.
    – Dan Mašek
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 23:43
  • 3
    @EdwinBuck If they're using that kind of working methodology then OP should be raising Bob as a blocker every day in the stand up. If the management decide not to do anything about it, and then to penalise OP for Bob's low performance, then it's time to find a new team or a new company.
    – Gh0stFish
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 8:41

3 Answers 3


One of the hard rules of the workplace is that doing your job well is only a small part of being recognized as an asset of value. My own boss always differentiates the know-how, and how-to-get-known, and in his mind, both are as important. In many other setups, know-how is not that much valued, maybe not even at all in some places.

Which does not mean you should not do your work. Which means that you should take a non-negligible chunk of your time making your achievements known. You can mail everyone each time you achieve a major milestone, set up meetings to show your progress (once a year, my boss makes a meeting with the full company, 75 people in our country, and members of the team show the year's progress, just to exist politically), or whatever.

Of course, it's much easier to sell real achievements than fake ones, especially if you're not used to sell yourself. Hence, keeping your main focus on actually doing your job is the way to go. But if you want to be seen as an achiever, you need to sell yourself.

I'm pretty sure Bob is actually working a lot. Working selling himself. To beat him, you have to play the same game - considering you have actual achievements to back up your own self-advertisement, you should outpace him in the eyes of people who matter. As long as you play the right game.

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    A hard truth. I had a manager who explained it as your success is driven by performance, image, and exposure. Focusing on performance only won’t get you where you want to be.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 12:56
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    This is the best answer. Book recommendations "Brag, how to toot your own horn without blowing it" and "The hard truth about soft skills" Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 19:09
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    Maybe I'm wrong but it looks to me this is very culture-specific, and typical in the US. This kind of attitude would not have worked in any company I have worked in my country. Where I've been, impossible to "sell yourself" if you don't produce good meaningful work. I've seen people fired for this (attracting attention to them while producing crap). I reckon I've never worked in huge "anonymous" companies, but then it would be company culture still
    – Kaddath
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 12:53
  • 2
    I agree with this but I hate that it's this way. I think the need to sell yourself is caused by bad managers that are out of touch with their teams.
    – Sam Orozco
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 20:25
  • 1
    @Kaddath : I speak from France. It does work in local firms as well as in US-owned firms. I can't tell for other cultures, indeed.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 7:51

This is hard to explain and even harder to accept. You may not see Bob actually working on the project but he may be working in the background answering direct requests from other members and from executives etc.

It's not always easy as an individual contributor to see the bigger picture of a project or organization. It's also not easy for a boss to always explain that bigger picture (They may not even be allowed to).

Unless your boss is really bad at their job they see your contributions and their importance to the project and company - but it may not be easy to reward you immediately for those. My current company does not allow me to give spot bonuses without many layers of approval. Also I can not simply promote someone on the spot; I have to wait until the twice-annual promotion periods and even in that time there is a long list of non-performance requirements to meet (length of time at company, length of time in current position, education/experience requirements).

  • 3
    I had an experience with a "meeting man", someone that, literally, goes to meetings all day. all middle managers and above, including C levels, love him, because he can put together projects across any tier across any departments, but it feels like he's "not doing anything".
    – Nelson
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 1:19
  • 7
    It's really hard sometimes to tell the difference between the actual "do-nothings" versus the ones that are highly effective even though their daily widget production volume seems nonexistent. They often share a lot of the same traits; sometimes I wonder if they were cut from the same cloth.
    – Z4-tier
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 4:31
  • @Nelson sounds like you're describing the CEO of a company.
    – Dreamer
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 12:30
  • 2
    @Z4-tier That something will be trivial becasue "It's just software" is an obvious joke. "It's just meetings" is the same joke, but it doesn't have the same cachet and people actually believe it. It is actually fairly easy to spot the difference, but, like software, can be challenging to explain to someone who doesn't have a grounding in that skillset.
    – fectin
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 12:40

By contrast, when I signal that an additional task will have to wait since I have tasks prioritized, some people protest or even get angry with me no matter how I formulate it. They even escalate.

I can ride a bicycle at 60 km/h during a sprint, but I can't do that steadily at long distance.

Sometimes I use this metaphor to explain how my performance works, and it's not unusual to need some time to make it clear for other people what was ordinary and what was an extra about the things I did.

People may genuinely have a hard time figuring that out by themselves, since office workers - unlike cyclists - look the same regardless of whether they are peak performing or not.

Instead of saying that additional tasks will have to wait, you may show yourself open to do that, but telling under which conditions. For example you may propose to rearrange the priorities of your current tasks, to renegotiate the deadline, and so on.

I think this may help understand that you are not rejecting the request for no reasons, but since time, energy and quality of service are limited resources you are just looking for a way to satisfy it without sacrificing any other aspects of your work.

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