Are you an advocate for yourself within your own workplace?
Ask yourself these questions: Is the senior staff and/or board at your museum aware of your impact on your organization? Do you feel truly valued? Are you able to effectively communicate with your coworkers about your position within the greater organization? Do you feel like you are being compensated appropriately? Are you comfortable asking for what you want and need in your job? We are all faced with these questions throughout our careers.
Communication is an important aspect of our everyday working lives. A lack and vagueness of communication can cause reverberating issues throughout a workplace, as well as unnecessary stress. The Muse reminds us that no one is a mind reader; we must be clear and concise, and be sure to speak up for ourselves. When approaching conversations that involve your performance, be prepared with specific examples in order to be able to make sure that you are making your points clearly and effectively. Can you document how your actions impacted a program? Finding a way to measure your impact helps to demonstrate your value to the organization and support your message. Phrasing is also very important when communicating on behalf of yourself. Be sure to make proactive statements that include how what you are asking for will allow you to do your job better and benefit the organization.
One method to make sure your professional needs are being met is to manage up. Managing up is a way to manage your relationship with your supervisors, anticipate needs, prove your worth, and ultimately manage your own career. This Wall Street Journal article clarifies what this strategy means. Forbes offers seven tips for handling your boss, and notes that, “Underpinning each of them is a commitment to take responsibility for your own success, regardless of the different (and difficult) personalities you will inevitably have to encounter throughout your working life.” You can find additional strategies and tips for managing up here, here, and here.
Asking for a raise can be one of the most difficult aspects of advocating for yourself. Check out these interesting statistics about women negotiating in the workplace. When do you know it’s time to ask for a raise? This infographic provides a checklist of whether it is the appropriate time to ask for a raise. Likewise, this checklist is a great place to start when evaluating your worth within your workplace. The next step is to make a list of all of the tasks you do—there is often a disconnect between an initial job description and the functions you actually perform. Then look up your position’s average salary for your city (salaries can vary a lot by city, organization size, and non-profit status). Along with this preparation, it is important to know your value and ask for what you deserve, according to Forbes.
Professional development is an important aspect of our careers. Oftentimes, though, this comes down to a question of budgets. Your professional advancement is warranted and necessary—continual learning will only help to make you more productive and innovative in your workplace. Professional conferences are a great place to maximize these learning opportunities. The Western Museum Association offers a Justification Toolkit to provide support when advocating for your professional education. This resource provides practical tools to demonstrate the rewards of the investment of your attendance to your supervisors. By verbalizing the number of new skills you will learn, the networking opportunities available, and the ultimate benefits WMA Annual Meeting attendees bring back to their organizations, you strengthen your case for receiving support from your organization.
Finally, find inspiration with these Ted Talks on counterintuitive career advice and how to be a great leader. In his Talk Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career, Larry Smith makes the point that, “…having a great career is not just about working really hard.” He urges people to find their destiny, the highest expression of their talent, and not be afraid to pursue their passion.