Advocating for yourself in the workplace can be incredibly off-putting at the risk of seeming as if you are bragging or demanding. However, self-advocacy is a key skill that every employee should learn. The ability to honestly and concisely communicate a query or objective helps both employee and employer in having the most productive relationship possible. Whether raising a small issue or negotiating a pay rise, every worker should have the toolkit necessary. While self-advocacy appears tricky to navigate at first, in reality it is a normal, everyday part of the workplace that shouldn’t intimidate any employee.
It is a common misconception that self-advocacy goes against the employer. Companies benefit from workers who know their worth and advocate for themselves as it shows you are confident in your abilities and show a want for progression both in your own career and within your company.
When approaching an opportunity for self-advocacy, it is vital to know your role within your workplace and how you benefit it. What do you bring to the table?
If you are a little wary of seeming as if you’re singing your own praises, then seek out this information from others around you in order to bolster your confidence. A simple way of doing this is seeking feedback from your managers. You don’t need to wait for a performance review to better understand your role. Actively ask your managers to make time for you, even if it’s just five minutes out of the day to understand what it is you do well and what needs improving. Once you receive feedback on what you could be better at, that allows for opportunities for improvement to further strengthen whatever it is you wish to ask for. If there are things you struggle with in your role, don’t try and cover them up, ask on how to improve. Show you want to progress in the company and make everyone else’s work lives easier. By advocating for what you want, what will your employer gain? How will it benefit productivity?
A simple way of strengthening your position to make self-advocacy less daunting, is showing your ability to be a team player. If your employers know you are willing to muck in and team-motivated, they are much more likely to be more open to what you wish to gain.
Knowing your worth is essential to self-advocacy. Don’t let your CV speak for yourself, know very well what it is you bring to the table. Self-reflection is a key skill in achieving this. If it helps, keep an active list of past achievements and examples of problem-solving. On the occasion of self-advocacy, this will help keep a clear picture in your head of why you deserve whatever it is you are asking for.
Going into a meeting with a clear objective and being able to communicate that objective is a crucial tool of self-advocacy. Transparency is also key, don’t beat around the bush what it is you want. Know what you want and why gaining it will benefit you and the team.
If you wish to take on more responsibility in your role, know how this can fit into your long-term and short-term career goals. If you wish for an increase in pay after taking on more responsibilities, be honest but be open to negotiation. Don’t be put off by back-and-forth, gather information prior regarding the pay bracket of your skillset with research.
If you are knowledgeable and concise, it will make the process much easier and help you feel more confident.
All in all, advocating yourself allows you to perform your job more effectively, benefitting both you and your employer. It can be a daunting process, but with practice communicating and knowing your own objectives, it is not something that should be avoided.