GREAT expectations (Part II)

Previously, I’ve written a post about how I thought it was important for students to be able to make their own decisions when they are completing their capstone projects.

The other thing which I expect young adults (ie. students) who are stepping into the job market is to hone the ability to speak their own contributions.

Speak Your Contributions

The first thing many people thought when I invited them to speak their contributions was that they felt it was boasting and it wasn’t being humble. I’m into my six year with the civil service and now public service, and I came to realise that the ability to speak your contributions, and be seen, is extremely crucial when it comes to promotion.

I am NOT saying that one should boast about his/her contributions.

I am NOT saying that one should lie about his/her contributions.

I am just saying that one should be proud that he/she made contributions and should know how to speak about them.

After all, you are the person who has done the work. Why should one need to hide about how he/she has contributed to the ultimate objectives of the organisation?

Be proud!



Of course, a self-appraisal is not an easy thing to write about as well. Sometimes, it is also not an easy thing to say it out. Especially for those who held on to the Asian mentality of being humble tightly, although I would say this is probably attributed to a misinterpretation of the Asian values.

Even today, I often struggle to write an appraisal about myself. Personally, I struggled with two main aspects of an appraisal: (1) writing about “plans” and “ideas” types of contributions, and (2) framing contributions in the way where it aligns with your organisation’s mission.

To many people, plans and ideas are not contributions at all. Most of these are things which are waiting to be done and to them no contributions has been made at that stage. I can agree to the line of argument to some extent but I also feel that certain ideas could be contributions as well.

Sometimes, what I’ll do is to make my plans and ideas into a proposal. A proposal is a type of deliverable and deliverable, on the other hand, are contributions. Of course, it is really easier said than done. You can’t just push a proposal into your boss’s hands when it is not required in the first place.

As for framing contributions, I would say that this is a matter of the experience you had in your company. Or at least that is all I can think of at the moment.


How about for students? I thought there they had a different set of challenges:


Being Concise and Detail

I know that most of them are still not concise and detail enough about their contributions. It is often in such details that we knew that the students knew their work.

Using Positive Words

The unfortunate thing is that “the truth” can hurt hence this would be another important skill for them to master, choosing positive words especially when there is a need to deliver bad news. The aim is not to use positive words to wank your way through. The aim is to use them to soften the impact of delivering not so great results so that people will continue to listen to what you have to say.


This is probably just the tip of an iceberg. I’ll probably need more experience to tell my students more concrete methods on how to frame their contributions. In the meanwhile, guess this will have to do.