If you don’t make a name for yourself, someone will make one for you. This personal branding mantra can guide your work as part of a team. Because branding is different when you’re not the only team member. Once you have coworkers and bosses and office culture and yearlong projects with hundreds of moving parts, you have to be even more diligent in your efforts. The company leaders won’t understand the breadth and depth of the value you bring to the organization unless you physically show them. Like, on paper. You have to advocate for yourself in three dimensions, reminding them of your contributions.
SHIPPING LOG — An accounting ledger of your personal creative contributions to the team
This tool is pulled from the manufacturing sector. You often notice this kind of document in warehouses. The shipping log is a chronological listing of shipments that allows management to track the status of orders. Now, although your work doesn’t typically involve cardboard boxes, pallets, shrink wrap and trucks, shipping is still a term that can resonate with you. Jobs was famous for his quotation, real artists ship, and that’s the way my creative brain thinks about it. The shipping log contains a list of projects that have been delivered. Even if results aren’t ten out of ten with every project, it’s the volume and continuity of effort that matters most. That’s what every boss, manager, supervisor, company leader and executive wants to see. Somebody who ships. Every day. How are you advocating for yourself? What’s your process for maintaining and sharing an accounting ledger of your value forward activities? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Start a simple document and keep on your desktop, wall or phone. Treat it as your working portfolio. A record of everything you have personally done that has increased profitability, raised productivity, decreased costs, improved recruiting, strengthened retention, made your colleagues look good, and position the company itself in a positive light.
It only takes a few minutes a day. The moment your work ships out the door, add it to the log. Done. And what you’ll quickly discover about this practice is, the more you do it, the more you will want to do it. The higher your shipping streak number gets, the more valuable your contributions will feel, the greater your dopamine reward will be, the more confident you will feel, and the happier your leaders will be. I used to print out a copy of my shipping log and carry it around in my back pocket when I was having low confidence days. Always helped boost my mood, remembering all the valuable work I was so proud of.
It's not that they don’t care about the work you’re doing, it’s that they’re too damn busy to keep track of it. And so, you keep the shipping log. Because they are never going to do it, but they will love that you did it for them. What’s your strategy for advocating for yourself in three dimensions?
Advocate for yourself in three dimensions within an organization
Build credibility through your continuity of various contributions
Boost your confidence when you’re feeling down about yourself
Make it quick and easy for you and your colleagues to understand your unique value