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How do you get noticed more for what you actually do at work? (I work as a software engineer to give more context) Like, this whole summer I feel like I've been churning of work / tasks that were important, without messing it up and with no guidance because most people were away or really slacking / not caring because management was away. On the other hand some colleagues seem to be slacking, ie picking up the easiest tasks, and then acting like it's really complicated and acting as if they are actually solving an important issue

I'm not really good at communicating and asserting myself but I really don't want to be in a situation where the people who are doing less stuff and are less invested than me are more rewarded. What should I do to be sure my work and efforts are noticed?

  • What is your end reason for wanting to get noticed for your work? Are you looking to get a promotion or just general praises and recognition by your boss and team? – Dan Sep 1 '16 at 13:09
  • perhaps relevant – Raystafarian Sep 1 '16 at 19:30
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I really don't want to be in a situation where the people who are doing less stuff and are less invested than me are more rewarded. What should I do to be sure my work and efforts are noticed?

Those are two completely different things, so step one: stop conflating them.

I really don't want to be in a situation where the people who are doing less stuff and are less invested than me are more rewarded.

No one wants to be in that situation. Everyone is in that situation. So step two: Get used to it, and stop caring. The question that should be on your mind is not "do my undeserving no good slacker coworkers deserve their bonuses?" The question on your mind should be "am I getting an adequate compensation for the amount of work I'm putting in?" The answers to those two questions have nothing to do with each other.

Put another way: the only way to control what bonuses your slacker coworkers get is to sabotage and badmouth them. Do you want to work at a company that encourages that kind of behaviour? Worry about what you're getting, not what anyone else is getting. Make yourself look good by enabling everyone around you to share in your success.

I'm not really good at communicating and asserting myself

Step three: get better at both. Once you are past entry level, software engineering is about communication, not writing code. You will not rise in your profession until you are able to communicate clearly with everyone in the organization.

Write more emails. Write more design documents. Write a blog. Answer questions on StackOverflow. Volunteer to give talks internally or to the public. There are lots of ways to practice communications.

When I was a junior engineer at Microsoft I was given a joke award -- a singing fish -- for being the guy on the team who wrote the longest, most detailed, most technical and most complete responses to design and implementation questions. It was a cute joke and I took it in the humour that it was intended, but it was also quite serious. That silly achievement was no accident; I deliberately set out to be known in the company as the guy to go to when you had a technical question about JavaScript, and that got noticed.

What should I do to be sure my work and efforts are noticed?

Start at the technical level. Are your tasks tracked in a change management system? Are your code changes tracked in a source code management system? If not, you have bigger problems than recognition. If they are, then you can use these as the basis of a weekly report on what you've accomplished this week and what you plan to accomplish next week.

Do you have code reviews? If not, again, you have bigger problems; start encouraging a culture of code reviews. Code reviews are a great way to showcase your work to your management and peers.

Do you have status meetings? Talk about what you've done in those meetings, where you're stuck, and how you can help other people get themselves unstuck. Do you have skip-level meetings with management? If not, start taking your manager's manager out to lunch a few times a year. Ask them if you are on track for your career goals, and if not, what you can do to improve. This effort will be noticed.

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  • And when someone as known as Eric Lippert talks to you about getting known, you'd better drink his writings. For sure, I do. Just replace software engineer by any job that has a level other than entry level. – gazzz0x2z Sep 1 '16 at 12:53
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    Best answer, but to add to it. You need to know your managers style, so that they take your accomplishments in the correct tone. There is a series of techniques/training called "managing up". Brief overview. hbr.org/2015/01/what-everyone-should-know-about-managing-up – Simon O'Doherty Sep 2 '16 at 5:47
  • 1) what do code reviews have to do with the management? I never heard of a high level manager doing code reviews 2) about asking his manager's manager about career goals and how to improve why would that be the proper person to ask? He probably knows only what his immediate manager has informed him about his evolution. – smith Sep 2 '16 at 20:59
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    @smith: Well if the question is "how do I succeed in an environment full of bad management who make bad decisions?" then I don't know; I'd need to know more about the nature of the bad management before I gave any suggestions. – Eric Lippert Sep 2 '16 at 21:28
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    Upvoting for "Once you are past entry level, software engineering is about communication, not writing code." Far too many programmers and software engineers fail to understand this. Churning out code is only half of the job. – goat_fab Dec 18 '19 at 16:29
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A very safe and solid way would be to ask for confirmation your work is actually good.

I'm assuming (blatantly) that you're in a junior position, with several more experienced software engineers around you. A good way to make sure they will notice your work is to actually show it to them, as an example:

Walk up to colleague A with a question about a project you recently finished, and ask him if he has time check out whether he also thinks your approach or work is good. In addition, ask him if he has any advice / tips on how to work better or faster the next time you're doing a simular project.

Also, this thread has some interesting answers you might want to read in to:

How to gain visibility in the workplace?

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Make sure you meet one on one with your manager and keep lists of your accomplishments for that week and discuss them with your manager during these meetings. If you don't have formal one on one meetings, ask for them, even if once a month. Or, just stop by and informally "chat" with your manager to talk about the good work you are doing. Ensure that you speak in a way that shows you understand what your manager values. This is practicing to market and sell yourself which is a skill that you will need to have as you move up in your career.

Continuously keep your yearly performance review updated with the tasks you accomplished. Link those tasks directly to your personal goals, or the company goals/objectives. Ideally your manager takes directly from your self-review for your yearly assessment, and if you have the direct ties to the company goals already there, this should bode well for your future.

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If you have a tracking system, make sure all your work/hours/resolutions etc,. are going into it. This is the BEST way since this is what (should) will be reviewed.

If you don't have one then it is much harder, the best option is to paper trail everything and keep your manager cc'd, that way your work is under his/her attention.

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Blow you own horn

Get your work prioritized

Try emailing your superior(s) with your list of tasks and ask them to prioritize them.

(Or: this is the order I'm going to work on them, unless you tell me otherwise.)

Do this occasionally and they'll slowly realize that you're overworked. They will also realize you're being a team player and are good at communicating; added browny points.

Send Weekly Status Reports

If you're up to it you could email a weekly status update with the following section headings:

  1. Tasks To Do - in order of priority (unless you tell me otherwise)
  2. Tasks in Progress
  3. Tasks awaiting external input / QA
  4. Tasks Completed this week

If you can break done your work to have 3 or 4 items in every section, people will realize that you're very busy, even if they don't read the details.

But don't bluff or lie; some managers have nothing better to do than carefully read these reports, while most of them will simply gloss over them.

Share your accomplishements

If you've solved a tricky problem, then email the team - and cc relevant superiors - a knowledge article. "So that the next person who has this problem won't need to spend time dealing with it.

Describe the problem, (various things you tried to solve it that didn't work) and the solution you found.

You could also post it as a Q&A to the relevant StackExchange and link to it and/or post it to the company intrawiki, and provide a link to it.

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