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In the Spotlight

Whether you know it or not, you are in the spotlight.

Maybe not every day, maybe not even every month, but there are one or two times a year that you are in the spotlight. Under the microscope. I’m talking about raise and bonus time.

The problem a lot of people run into is that your raise or bonus is theoretically based on the past year or the past 6 months, but people tend to have a better short-term memory and forget things more than a few weeks old.

They need a reminder.

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You can give them that reminder. Remember the 2 keys:

  1. How am I adding value to the company?
  2. How do raises / bonuses work at my company?

I once forgot #1 when I started a new job and it almost got me fired.

This was an example of showing up in the spotlight in a BAD way.

I remember sitting in my cubicle thinking, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this! This is so cool!” There was a fully stocked kitchen and I had just read Linchpin by Seth Godin. I was ready to take on an undiscovered project and show just how cool I was.

I sat near 2 customer service reps for the company. It seemed like they really had to wrestle with the software to do their job.

“I can fix that!”

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Problem #1: I wasn’t hired to help 2 customer service reps. There were other areas in the company that were more mission critical and had a much higher value and return on investment for the company.

Problem #2: I started focusing on this “side project” and talking it up to everyone. However, I was not aware how I was being measured and evaluated by my manager. I was actually falling behind in what they needed me to do.

This resulted in a conversation where I was given a day to decide if I wanted to shake hands and leave with a 2-week pay advance or come up with an improvement plan to stay.

Oh yeah, and if the plan didn’t work out then I would just be fired.


I didn’t even see it coming.

Because I didn’t know how I was adding value

Because I didn’t know the goals of the company

Because I didn’t know how I was being measured

All 3 of those can be solved by asking.

Talk to your manager and find out the answers! You’ve got to focus on the right thing. It does no good to focus on a side project if it does not add value and it is not in line with company goals.

Reminders and focusing on how I add value and finding out how things worked at the company resulted in a conversation with that same manager 2 years later about what they could do to get me to STAY.

Much better conversation.

Ok, so with that caution light in place, back to reminders. And we’re going to do that by talking about dessert.

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I love cheesecake.

But I can’t eat much more than 1 slice of really good cheesecake before I start to feel sick. It’s just too much. I would much rather have 1 slice every month than an entire cheesecake all at once.


This is the same with reminders and to remember key #2 – know how bonuses and raises work at your company.

If you gather a bunch of good information about what you have done throughout the year but wait until your review meeting to present it to your manager, that’s usually a little too late to make much of a difference.

They need that information when the decisions are being made.

They need little reminders throughout the year about how awesome you are.

I’m not talking about making things up or being a show-off. I’m talking about providing information about where you are adding real value.


The best reminder won’t come from you, but someone you helped.

When you complete a project for someone or really help them with a critical item, often they will reply with a “thank you” or “good job”. Save these emails for later so you can quote what other people said about you.

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It’s also a great idea to ask various people you help or work with for a testimonial. Just ask them for a few sentences describing how you helped them out.

I’ve been surprised by this – something that was pretty easy for me turned out to have a huge impact on them and how they describe it in their own words is usually much more than I would have said about it.

Sometimes you don’t know just how awesome you are. And coming from other people is even better than saying it yourself.

Timestamp Email

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If you’re up late working on something, don’t be shy about sending an email to inform those who are interested in your progress or that it’s done. Copy your manager so they are in the loop.

Just make sure you’re actually producing something. I remember seeing people “stay late in the office” just to keep the chair warm until the boss left but they were pretty much just watching youtube those last hours of the day. That’s just a waste.

These timestamp emails should serve to educate others on what you are actually doing so you don’t have to play the stay in the office game.

Working late also shouldn’t be your only claim to fame so don’t over-use it, but depending on your company culture this can go a long way and put you in the right spotlight.

Plant a Seed

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When someone helps you out whether it’s a colleague, a vendor, a customer, whoever, send a quick email or note describing what they did, the impact it had on you, and thank them. Be sure to include their manager. You may help someone more than you’ll ever know.

You’re not going to just trade testimonials with others, I’m talking about genuinely expressing thanks for people who help you out. This is a general principle – if you want testimonials, then be the type of person who also gives testimonials.

How do you remind your manager? What has worked or not worked for you?


Craig Golightly

Published inUncategorized