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Why do Great Employees get Overlooked?


In the age of globalization, the world is shrinking, and opportunities are expanding. Considering this, one would expect that exceptional employees would always rise to the top, gaining recognition, promotions, and opportunities for advancement. After all, their hard work, dedication, and skills should naturally set them apart. In fact, according to a survey by CNBC/SurveyMonkey researching workplace happiness, it found that 40% of workers in America were dissatisfied with opportunities for advancement at their workplace. However, in reality, this is not always the case. This then raises a question: Why do great employees get overlooked, and how can organizations rectify this oversight to retain and promote their top talent? We at PTMA are committed to helping you achieve your full potential and in this article, we will tackle some of the causes and possible remedies to this dilemma.

Great employees getting frustrated

Common Causes

  1. Lack of Self-Promotion: Exceptional employees often prioritize their work over self-promotion. They might assume that their hard work will naturally be recognized, but in today’s competitive and fast-paced work environments, it’s essential to advocate for oneself.
  2. Quiet Competence: Great employees may exhibit quiet competence, meaning they excel in their roles but do so without drawing attention to themselves. In contrast, more vocal colleagues might stand out, even if their performance is not as stellar.
  3. Office Politics: Workplace politics can be a significant barrier to recognizing great employees. Personal connections and alliances can often override merit when it comes to promotions and opportunities.
  4. Unacknowledged Soft Skills: Many employees possess soft skills like emotional intelligence, adaptability, and effective communication, which are often overlooked in favor of hard skills. These soft skills, while less tangible, play a crucial role in an employee’s success.
  5. Unconscious Bias: Unconscious biases can affect how managers perceive and evaluate their employees. Biases related to gender, race, age, or other factors can lead to talented individuals being overlooked.
  6. Lack of Visibility: Sometimes, exceptional employees work in roles that lack visibility within the organization. They might not be involved in high-profile projects or have direct interactions with upper management, making their contributions less noticeable.
Great employees in office

Practical Tips for Great Employees 

  1. Self-Promotion: While it may feel uncomfortable, employees should learn to self-promote. Regularly communicate your achievements to your supervisors and peers. Create a portfolio of your accomplishments, and don’t be afraid to share it during performance reviews.
  2. Advocate for Yourself: When you believe you deserve a promotion or raise, don’t wait for it to fall into your lap. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your contributions and your desire for growth.
  3. Develop Soft Skills: Soft skills are often undervalued but can make a significant difference in how you are perceived at work. Focus on improving your emotional intelligence, communication skills, and adaptability.
  4. Seek Feedback: Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from your superiors and peers. Understanding where you can improve will not only help you grow but also make your contributions more visible.
great employee getting feedback

Practical Tips for Employers

  1. Foster a Culture of Recognition: Create a workplace culture that values and recognizes hard work and achievements. Implement regular recognition programs, whether through awards, shout-outs, or other means.
  2. Avoid Biases: Be conscious of unconscious biases in your decision-making processes. Implement diversity and inclusion training to help address and mitigate these biases.
  3. Provide Opportunities for Visibility: Encourage great employees to participate in high-profile projects, presentations, and cross-functional teams. This will increase their visibility within the organization.
  4. Value Soft Skills: Recognize the importance of soft skills in the workplace. Include them in your performance evaluations and consider them when making promotion decisions.
great employee with trophies

The issue of great employees getting overlooked is a common problem in many organizations. However, with self-awareness and proactive steps, both employees and employers can work together to ensure that deserving individuals are recognized and rewarded for their hard work and contributions. By fostering a culture of recognition, addressing biases, and promoting soft skills, organizations can create an environment where all employees have the opportunity to shine. In doing so, they will not only retain their top talent but also build a stronger and more diverse workforce.

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