A client confided in me that she doesn’t feel valued at work. What should she do?

We all want to feel valued, respected, and recognized for our contributions. William James has said: “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” Yet, according to Leigh Branham (1), author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, 60 per cent of employees say they feel ignored or taken for granted. A difference in values can explain this. Studies by KA Kovach (2) reveal that employers think employees want good wages, job security, promotions, and growth in the organization.  From this perspective, a job and paycheque is thanks enough. That’s very old school.

Is it me or is it them?

A. If I don’t feel valued, the first thing I’d ask myself is: Is it me or them? Let’s explore your own values: What are they, and can you honestly say that you are living them? For example, are you reliable and trustworthy? Do you keep your word when you say you will do something? To what extent do you value other people’s points of view and let them know you appreciate their contributions? Are your values in harmony with those of your workplace? What value do you bring to the table at work? A metaphysical principle says: If you want it, be it. Give and give first.

Improve your self-worth

The picture we have of ourselves reflects our level of self-esteem. Ask yourself: Do I feel good about myself? Do I appreciate my own worth? Do I take pride in my own abilities, skills, and accomplishments? If not, it’s time to change your self-image and improve your self-esteem.

I remember that as a first-time presenter at an international conference, I was in the spotlight and out of my comfort zone among well-known authors and luminaries. I noticed that if my self-talk created insecurity, I became invisible to everyone. When I felt confident, I was visible again. I learned about the relationship between worthiness and visibility.

To improve your confidence and self-worth, create a positive mindset. Find things to appreciate about yourself and others. Focus on what you do well and your recent accomplishments. What feedback do you receive from others? When you encounter problems, look for the opportunity to learn and grow.

Take time to reflect on your personal values and self-worth. You might want to write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Note what changes you need to make. Once you’ve made them, note the impact on your relationship with your boss and co-workers.

Create value

Your first priority on the job is to make your boss look good without being a sycophant. Find ways to help him or her be as effective as possible. Treat your boss as a customer.

Ask your boss for a meeting to discuss specific proposals and ideas and how you would like to be involved. Ask for feedback on what helps and hinders his or her work and what needs improvement. Put your ideas in writing in email and memos to increase your visibility, but don’t count on making ideas your only currency in value creation. You must turn ideas into action and results.

Many women I know present an idea to the boss, only to have him or her champion it as his own. When I ask if their own name is on the project, they say: “No, it doesn’t matter.” Yes, it does matter. It’s great when your ideas are valued, but make sure that your name is attached to the project and that you are not invisible. This will help your efforts to get recognition, take on plum projects, and get promoted.

Keep track of your achievements in writing. How can you measure your results? How did you contribute to the productivity, effectiveness or profitability of your workplace? If you are a high achiever and you do add value to your organization, but it’s still not working out, perhaps it’s time to move on.

Find out more about my approach to Creativity and Innovation Coaching.


1) Leigh Branham. The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It’s Too Late. AMACOM Books, 2004. Source retrieved Sept 7/07 from <www.asaecenter.org/PublicationsResources/EUArticle.cfm?ItemNumber=11514>

2) Kovach, K.A. “What motivates employees? Workers and supervisors give different answers.” Business Horizons. 1987 (vol. 30, no. 5). pp. 58-65.