Flying to Wellington last week, I opened the in-flight magazine. A quote about how Kiwis are reluctant to market themselves caught my eye. In this case, it was marketing to the rest of the world.
Yet, this reluctance shows up in many contexts. As an individual in the workplace, I’ve certainly felt it before. Where does this reluctance come from?
Perhaps, not wanting to come across as self-interested. Arrogant. Blowing our trumpet.
Or we feel like the imposter. “If we’re that good, they will come to us,” we tell ourselves.
In both cases the focus can end up on us. In our desire not to be inauthentic we can forget who we are delivering value to.
It came up in a coaching session recently. I worked through an upcoming presentation with a client. They had to present a communications plan to other leaders in the organisation. Part of the plan was to communicate their team’s achievements.
There was a sense that they didn’t want to be blowing their trumpet. “Why does the rest of the organisation need to know your achievements?” I asked.
If what we do meets a need, then those we can help need to understand what we do. The value that we deliver.
What if we re-framed promotion of what we do as ‘value declaration’? Put the focus on the value received by the beneficiary of what we do. Not ourselves. Bypass the battle of arrogance and the imposter.
Pump-yourself-up methods can help with initial confidence. But we’re better off shifting our thought to someone else’s needs in that moment.
So how can we ask ourselves the right questions to approach this in an authentic way? This is not just about businesses marketing themselves. We all look to deliver value in different ways. Often others don’t know the full extent of that. We must declare it.
I look to the Value Proposition Canvas as inspiration to focus our mind on our messaging. Here are some suggested questions to dig deeper into why our work matters to others:
What does my work do for this person that they no longer need to do for themselves?
What do I offer that relieves pain for this person?
What do I offer that provides extra benefits for this person?
What can I show about my character and experience that will help this person to trust me?
So, what about my client and their achievements? The purpose of the communication became less about listing achievements. Rather, creating greater awareness in the business about where other teams could access the value they delivered to be more effective.
The message feels like common sense. ‘Focus on the customer/user/beneficiary’. I just know how easy it is to forget this in the day-to-day pressures of the work place. In writing this, I look to remind us all.
So, go on, go authentically declare your value. I do that here.
Doug Maarschalk is a trainer, facilitator and coach who uses the principles of intrinsic motivation as the foundation for his work. He has worked with New Zealand businesses in the horticulture, legal, accounting, financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors.
Read more about the Services Doug provides and the Clients he has worked with.