As I got on with my voluntary English training mentioned in my other question here (many thanks to all answers and comments, much appreciated), another Chinese manager came to me for advice to present to his boss the extra hard work he puts in but constantly goes under the radar.

His team was only put together early last year. Almost all his energy had been going to laying the groundwork and attending emergencies, leaving a lot of his efforts gone under the radar w/o thoughts spared for celebration and commendation. Now that these efforts have culminated in an established, high achieving team performing well above expectation, he feels he deserves some good rep for all the grinding - not so much fpr the precise feat that he puts the team together, which he concedes to what's expected of him, but the extras he pulled off that have really put the cherry on top, and those include:

  • constantly covering weekend shifts in the absence of team members and due to understaffing, for as long as quite a few months in a row, sarificing in totality his work/life balance.

  • placating team members disgruntled by the growing pains of a new team (e.g. heavy work load, friction with other teams, lack of stability)

  • painstakingly mentoring less experienced members as being a new team there're lots of moving parts and goal posts, and no systematic, official training regime just yet

  • coordinating with other teams and gathering feedbacks, helping other teams getting used to life with his

  • managing to attend company events and fairs despite on a very demanding schedule compared to peers as he's swarmed with his new team

While he admits some of the above might not warrant the "extra" treatment, he still wants a fair chance for most aspects of his hard work to be duely appreciated by his boss. Like in my other question earlier this is an American boss based in the US. So very little of the above had ever been exposed to direct, first hand attention of the boss as they work at different sites on different hours.

So how should he go about this in a more formal or effective manner? By presenting a self performance review highlighting all his efforts in plain light or is there a more delicate way? And how should he best interpret the responses of his boss? He seemed to have already made a few informal, casual attempts to get the message across in plain, unadorned language during past teleconfs but only managed to draw insipid words of encouragement and approval, towards which he couldn't help but feel skeptical whether they were heart felt as there were no concrete actions that followed (awards, raise etc.).

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    Some of your questions, like, "How should he best interpret the responses of his boss", are impossible to answer in their current state. Only the part about whether or not doing for a stricto sensu performance review seems answerable at the moment. – Thalantas Jan 17 '17 at 15:15

Your friend has a very unrealistic view of what the workplace is like, and likely a poor understanding of office politics. He's working himself ragged, when he should instead of working smart.

You will find countless questions on this site regarding workplace visibility. I suggest you read them.

What I will specifically address is your friend's attitude. Expecting rewards and raises for going the extra mile is a childish fantasy. If raises were handed out every time someone picked up a weekend shift, then most of us would be millionaires by now. As far as awards are concerned .. not too many companies give out recognition awards, and certainly not in the short term. Maybe a yearly award, or some sort of retirement gift, but not a monthly framed certificate like your friend seems to be expecting.

What your friend needs to realize is that when one works hard and puts in a good effort, that effort largely starts to be taken for granted. People stop noticing that you're the top performer because you're always performing. They certainly notice when you screw up, however.

In the long term, he will gain recognition, and when a his bosses are looking to promote someone I'm sure that they will keep his name in mind, however this is a long term goal. We're potentially talking about years here.

In the short term, he should stop pestering people for praise. It will only come across as insecurity, and maybe an overzealous attempt at highlighting his contribution (no one likes a braggart). He should also throttle back his contributions and effort to a more sustainable level.

What I mean by that is that if your friend keeps pushing himself like that, he is going to burn out, and lose his energy/passion for the job. Instead, he should put in a more moderate effort, and focus on maintaining that effort.

With time he will establish a reputation of dependability and hard work. With time.

Personal anecdote: Last year I spent 3 months in and out of meetings with various department heads, and key individuals in our organization, assembling requirements for a proposed system (lots of support from management, big demand for its implementation). I refined these, over the course of numerous iterations, into a 50+ page document outlining a comprehensive software solution. I poured my heart and soul into this thing. At the end of those 3 months of effort I got exactly 1 "good job" comment from my boss before the whole thing was shelved, and I got handed a new project (reward for a job well done is more work, right?). However, I am not upset, insulted, or otherwise discouraged by this. I know that my boss is aware of my effort, and has noticed the quality of my work. I also met numerous managers, who all know me by name now, and have learned a lot about how our business works. I may not have gotten an award, but I've grown as a professional, and gained a lot of visibility as I was the one approaching managers with ideas, suggestions, etc.

  • Moreover, he risks be seen as a slacker the moment he stops going the extra mile(s). – user1220 Jan 17 '17 at 15:23
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    huge +1 for that effort largely starts to be taken for granted, and if you add what user1220 that's just how unfair workplace can be. – Walfrat Jan 17 '17 at 15:31

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