How to prove your value at work without burning out fast 

A man sitting at his desk working from home

If you love your job and want to advance your career, you’re no doubt working hard to rack up as many successes as you can. At the same time, change and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic may have left you feeling that you need to prove yourself and position your role as ‘indispensable’. But failing to manage this situation in the right way could leave you feeling overwhelmed, overworked and burned out.
This raises the crucial question: how can you prove your value at work, without burning yourself out in the process?

10 ways to prove yourself at work during and after COVID-19

  1. Understand how your organisation is changing due to the pandemic and how you can personally add value: Proactively ask your manager how the strategic objectives of the business may be changing, how your current role may evolve, and importantly, how you can personally prepare for that evolution, now. If they are unsure, you could perhaps suggest that you work together to craft your role so that it is as relevant to the post-COVID-19 era of work as possible. 

    It’s also a good idea to understand how value might be measured in the future. By taking a pre-emptive and creative approach here, you’ll be demonstrating to your employer that you are adaptable and will bring a growth mindset to the inevitable challenges and opportunities that are around the corner as we embark on the next era of work. 
  2. Demonstrate your personal commitment to learning and establish yourself as an expert: Once you have an understanding of the current and future direction of your organisation, ask yourself how you can apply your unique strengths, skills and competencies to help it thrive. Think about how you can upskill to further build on those unique strengths, skills and competencies via further learning to establish yourself as the ‘go-to’ expert in a given area.

    In addition, develop an understanding of the new skills you may need to acquire in order to play a meaningful part in helping your organisation tackle challenges or solve problems on the horizon. Commit to, and own, your learning journey, while freely sharing your knowledge – both existing and new – and helping others in your team to both upskill and reskill.

    Remember to communicate and document your learning as you go to show you are a constant learner, by updating your manager, your CV and your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Perfect your remote working etiquette: You may be working virtually or in a hybrid model, which means you are not always communicating face-to-face. That doesn’t mean, however, that your standards of etiquette should slip. So, practice good meeting etiquette on video calls, be responsive to email and the communication applications your organisation uses and build constructive and supportive relationships with internal and external stakeholders. 
  4. Maintain your visibility remotely: As we transition to the hybrid new era of work, you may find it more difficult to increase your ‘visibility’ in the workplace. You may not be physically in the office as often and may not therefore be interacting face-to-face at the same level, building relationships in the same way as you once were.

    It will therefore be vital to routinely and regularly communicate with your manager and colleagues about the specific projects you’re working on and the successes and milestones achieved – including any feedback you’ve had from your key stakeholders. To this end, proactively schedule regular catch up meetings, if they aren’t in the diary already.

    When it comes to improving your visibility with your boss, don’t be afraid of a little self-promotion – you must get comfortable speaking out about your successes and achievements.

    You may also choose to send your manager a weekly summary outlining all the tasks that you have completed, and the results generated to date. When you do so, draw attention to the tangible results as evidence of the impact you have made.
  5. Build and strengthen relationships with key internal influencers: Identify the people within your organisation who have been an ally for your career development in the past and who may be so again in the future. Consider asking them to be your mentor or for their thoughts on how the organisation is likely to change and how they recommend you adapt. In return, go the extra mile to help them whenever you can, crediting them for their work and thanking them for their help. 

    Also, don’t hesitate to network within your business, including introducing yourself to new starters and positioning yourself as their ally from the outset – even if only remotely – they will remember you for it.
  6. Understand how performance will be measured in the new world of work: As many organisations change both where they work and how they work in light of COVID-19, traditional performance metrics and targets will likely be reviewed and refreshed.

    It’s crucial to grasp an understanding of this at an early stage, so that you can refocus on specific areas if needed. Understanding future performance metrics also allows you to determine if you are capable of doing a good job or if you need to upskill in any areas.

    It’s also a good idea to find out whether your previous, pre-COVID performance appraisal processes will remain in place, or if these will change too.
  7. Don’t try to be a solo superstar: You may be working well as part of a hybrid team – whereby some team members are in the office and others work from home – or even completely remotely, but you must never forget that ultimately you are part of a wider team that is working together to achieve a common goal. 

    So, keep your collective end-goal in the back of your mind. The success of a team is never down to the contribution of one person, but rather a team motivated and guided by the same shared goal. This, in turn, will serve your individual career goals much better than trying to be the ‘solo superstar’.
  8. Learn to say ‘no’ when needed: Proving your value in your current role is not about saying ‘yes’ to every project that comes your way. As you progress through your career and you start to get noticed, new projects will naturally start coming to you. To strategically manage your career, though, and to build on the success you’ve achieved so far, it’s important that you realise that you simply can’t do everything yourself, and you certainly won’t be able to please everyone. 

    If you’re able consider each task requested and say ‘no’ in the right way, and to the right requests, you’ll gain respect and further establish your value in the workplace. After all, saying ‘yes’ to too many projects will soon overwhelm and frustrate you, which will only harm your chances of success in the long-run. 
  9. Stay positive and be optimistic: While these are challenging times, a positive and optimistic attitude will help you to get through it thriving. Not only is positivity contagious within a team, and indeed, throughout the organisation as a whole, but it also breeds success.

    So, be mindful of how positive or negative the language that you use is and practise compassion with your colleagues, including celebrating successes and supporting them to succeed.

    It may also help to remind yourself of your organisation’s purpose and reason for being. That way, you can be clear about how your specific role delivers value and gives you meaning, which will reinforce those positive thoughts. It’s also good practice to set attainable goals for the day, so that you feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete them, and importantly, enjoy a reward when you do.
  10. Look after your wellbeing and establish some balance: You won’t be able to fully and effectively prove your value at your organisation if you’re working long hours and failing to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing. You’ll simply feel too exhausted much of the time to be able to continue performing at your best. So, make sure you look after yourself and establish some balance in your life. When you do, you’ll find it much easier to do all of the above.
So, to sum up, if you’ve ever heard of the phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’, you’ll probably know something about how the people who make themselves most clearly valuable to their employers are also often those who are the most skilled at avoiding stress and burnout. The two go hand in hand.
Follow the above advice and you’ll be well on your way to undeniably demonstrating the unique value you can provide in your professional life in the months and years ahead. 

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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