Recently, one of our clients received major recognition at their company’s annual meeting. The CEO stood up in front of everyone and praised IT for:

A great outcome—but we all know IT receiving this sort of big public recognition is the exception, not the rule.

Usually it’s the other departments—sales, marketing, finance, the product team, the supply chain—who receive praise for even minimal outcomes. Frustrating, I know! And it begs the question—how come this praise so rarely comes to IT, when we’re the ones actually saving the day?

Simple. It’s because the other departments know something IT doesn’t…they know how to tell the business what the business wants to hear.

When sales talks about themselves, they exult about how they reached quotas and increased revenue…not about how many calls they made. When marketing talks about themselves, they brag about gaining X% market share and delivering X customers into the pipeline…not about all of the design and creative work that goes into each campaign. Finance touts how they collected $X from outstanding debt and increased the bottom line…not about how many forms and letters had to be compiled to make it happen.

Net, net: every other department gets praise for delivering something very well defined with a very clear outcome. And it’s the promotion of that valuable outcome that gets the accolades…which, you will note, is also exactly why IT got noticed in the above example. Because that IT group framed their work in terms of their outcomes.

A Rare Frame

Unfortunately, much of the work of IT is managed, thought about, and talked about in terms of activities, when really the business just wants to hear about these outcomes. This principle applies to the IT department as a whole, and even more importantly—it applies to you on the personal level.

If you want accolades and attention, then you need to start promoting your outcomes and stop talking about your activities.

So Next Time You are Looking for Recognition, Consider the Following:

See the difference?

When you translate your activities into outcome-oriented soundbites, you give your managers and stakeholders something to hang recognition on—something that looks a whole lot like the marketing, sales and product development outcomes that get all the press.

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