In the workplace, it’s not uncommon to find yourself without a mentor or champion. In those sink-or-swim times, knowing how to be your own best advocate can be the difference between success and failure.
Being your advocate doesn’t mean you brag about your accomplishments or force yourself on other people. Rather, it means you have a realistically positive sense of your own worth to the organization and the value you bring to the game. Based on that competency and contribution, you have an innate sense of self-worth that makes you willing to speak up on your own behalf and take action to help yourself out of any challenging situation.
People who sit back hoping to be saved when they’re faced with serious obstacles are often disappointed. Here are four tips on how to be your own best advocate:
#1: Do your homework BEFORE you communicate with your boss via email, phone or in person so you know as much (or preferably more) about the situation than your boss does. This will make you confident, and show your boss that you are serious about results.
#2: Identify what you want to find out/get settled from your interaction with your boss. If you need help being concise, bounce your ideas off a coach or trusted friend so you can ask for exactly what you need.
#3: Make an appointment to meet in-person with your boss, and have a specific agenda so you are both clear on what you want to discuss and what take-aways you need to leave with. Role-play the meeting with a coach or trusted friend so you aren’t nervous.
#4: If your boss says getting answers and resolution will take time, find out more about the process and set a time for an update or completion date. You’ll feel empowered if things aren’t left open-ended, and it gives you a time-frame to follow-up.
Sometimes ineffective bosses mean well but have difficulty creating the structure necessary to succeed. By learning how to be your own best advocate, you can guide your boss through the required steps to create the outcome you need!