The myth of letting your work speak for Itself

March 3, 2022
5 min read
DA Ledger

I used to believe in Santa Claus. I also used to think that I should "let my work speak for itself," but over time, I developed a more nuanced opinion of how I should navigate my career in the Salesforce space.

This post will summarize what Carla Harris calls performance and relationship capital, two concepts that helped me dispel the myth that I should “let my work speak for itself."

Performance capital

What is performance capital? It’s the goodwill you build up by consistently delivering complete and accurate work that goes above and beyond.

That upcoming MFA enforcement Salesforce is imposing? You knock it out of the park. Does your company need to migrate to Lightning? You own and deliver that project faster than anticipated, with no road bumps. Over time, people will notice your ability to deliver, which will get you paid and promoted.

People always wonder, “how do I get a sponsor or a mentor?” Significant performance capital raises your visibility, making potential sponsors interested in supporting you. They want to be associated with the people who can help make their projects or initiatives successful. Just make sure that the sponsor has a seat at the decision-making table and has the relationship capital — more on that later — to influence people at said table.

What’s the issue with performance capital? Its value diminishes over time because people will become accustomed to your level of excellence.

You might hear things like “your project didn’t seem too difficult to launch” or “that new feature you released mustn’t have taken long,” but that’s only because of the amount of preparation and due diligence you put into making sure your work is stellar.

“There is no longer a premium associated with your deliverable,” as Carla says, and it’s merely the price of admission for a successful career.

So, what should you do now?

Relationship capital

If performance capital is fleeting, what kind of capital should I focus on to build my career? The answer is relationship capital. Build relationship capital by interacting with the people in our environment and letting its benefits compound over time.

We may think we work in silos in our Salesforce ecosystem, but we interact with so many people in our day-to-day work. There are admins, devs, QA, BSAs, product owners, business stakeholders, business users, data teams, other engineering teams…you get it. We’re in a highly interdependent environment, so it should benefit you to have a relationship with every person interacting with you.

Like I said at the beginning of this email, I used to think I’d let my work speak for itself. It’s a myth. If the only person who knows you’re doing good work is your manager, then you’re putting yourself in the wrong place because they could leave the company or lose their influence.

A Salesforce administrator at a hyper-growth startup had four managers in one year. In hindsight, he kicked himself for not building relationships outside of his immediate team, so he could’ve made others aware of the value he created at that time. He had to jump to another company to be valued again.

Your ability to progress upward in your career is related to someone’s judgment about whether you’re ready for the position, whether you will be successful in the role, or if your team will follow your lead. And their judgment is cultivated over the relationships you built with them.

Carla asks this question: would you use your existing personal capital to vouch for someone you don’t know?

My money’s on “probably not.” Who would you use it on? People you know. And you get to know people by building relationships. If you find yourself unable to move up in your career, it will be a function of whether or not influential people in the decision-making room know you - regardless of if they like you or not. So, leadership will discuss the eligible candidates for a raise or promotion in performance review season.

“What should we do about the reader's pay this cycle?”

Does no one speak? Or does someone speak up on your behalf because they think they know you?

Just like in our personal life, it’s crucial to invest in relationships with people in your environment if you want to grow to higher levels in your career. It’s the best capital we can have.

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