Lessons from "Office Space" – How to Gain Recognition at Work

Ever been frustrated by your lack of recognition at work and felt like the characters in the movie “Office Space”? Read on for some lessons on how to gain respect in the office and improve your chances of getting a raise.

In "Office Space," the main character, Peter, decides he’s sick of his boss needling him, sick of doing unrecognized work and sick of his job altogether. So, he stops showing up regularly, stops wearing a suit and stops caring about how he spends his day there.

And when two consultants hired to assess his value begin asking about his contributions, Peter blows them away with his honesty and bright ideas – and all of a sudden, he’s recognized as a vital part of the future of the company. Go figure!

Although this comedy skews towards a mockery of office life, at the core of the story is some truth – we all want to be recognized for the hard work we’re completing. Gaining respect for our opinions, feeling appreciated for our contributions and potentially receiving a raise are all important in motivating us to keep putting forth our best efforts at the office. So, what can we learn from Peter’s experience in order to build visibility for our accomplishments?

Claim your work. If you complete a difficult task or take on a special project that benefits your colleagues, make sure to take credit when it’s given. It’s easy to forget who contributed where, so if your work or actions are called out in an email or a meeting, be sure to willingly accept recognition.

Share your accomplishments with your boss regularly. While every manager has a different approach to communicating with their staff, the one thing that all managers need to do is evaluate their employees from time to time, whether it’s for an annual review or a weekly 1:1 meeting. Loop your manager in on your work so that he or she knows what you’re accomplishing and can properly delegate new projects to you accordingly. It can be as simple as adding your boss to the copy line of an email citing a new assignment you’ll be working on.

Speak up. Good ideas can come from the most unexpected places. If you’re part of a conversation or a meeting and you have an idea to share, pick the right time to share it. Your colleagues and management alike will at the very least appreciate your mindfulness and contribution, and in the best-case scenario, will put your idea into action as a new solution to an existing problem.

Stand out from your coworkers. One surefire way to get noticed in the workplace is to become an expert or the go-to person for a specific task. Maybe you’re especially good at dealing with difficult vendors, or you happen to have a knack for selecting well-received restaurants and activities for client events. Whatever your specialty is, volunteer to take on those related projects and your boss can't help but notice.

Especially at this time of year, when many companies conduct mid-year reviews, it’s a great time to ensure you’re getting the recognition you deserve at work.

What are some ways you raise visibility for your contributions in the workplace? Share your tips for how to gain respect in the comments section below.

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