Staying "Visible" at Work
Do you sometimes feel that your hard work is "invisible"?
Perhaps you do such good work on a regular basis that your manager takes you for granted. Perhaps, because of this, you're no longer recognized and rewarded for your efforts, as you once were.
In this article, we'll discuss strategies for getting noticed for the great work that you do. This, in turn, will help you to continue moving towards your career goals.
Why Work on Getting Noticed?
You might be the hardest worker in your organization, and the one everyone wants on their team – but if you're not in people's thoughts, then you'll be passed up for new projects, additional responsibilities, awards, and promotions.
That's why you need to be visible at work!
Let's look at some strategies that you can use to get noticed in the workplace.
Developing Specialist Skills
Do you consider yourself a "generalist" – someone who does many different things in different roles – or a "specialist" – someone who is an expert in one or two specific areas?
New businesses often hire generalists, because they can perform in so many different roles. As organizations grow, however, specialists are often hired to focus on key areas. This may leave the hard-working generalists feeling pushed aside and disempowered.
If you're a generalist, think strategically about what types of skills your organization needs. Work on building these skills to become a specialist. The more knowledgeable and skillful you become in a particular area, the more likely you are to be noticed for your work.
Remember that organizations also tend to look for people with great "soft skills" – non-technical skills such as creative thinking, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, communication skills, flexibility, and coaching. These are often as important as professional expertise.
If you're thinking about becoming a specialist in a certain area, don't forget to consider these important soft skills. Helping your boss resolve a major conflict within your team will get you noticed just as much as delivering a great presentation or sales report.
Building a Network
How can building a network of contacts help you get noticed in front of the people who matter?
Essentially, if you help people out when they need assistance, then people will help you out too. (Our article on the Influence Model explores this further.)
And if you take the time to build and nurture relationships with the people around you, you'll build a network of "allies" who can help you get assigned to interesting, significant, or eye-catching projects that might otherwise go to someone else. They may also recommend you to other departments, which can open up opportunities that might not have been available to you without their recommendations.
Build a network of alliances within your department, with other departments, and with the executive team or board. Try to get assigned to teams that involve a wide variety of people. This can help you build your reputation, and make important friendships.
Also, build your network outside of office hours. Socializing with colleagues after work often makes everyone feel more relaxed and open to new friendships.
Tracking Your Accomplishments
When you're working hard, it's easy to forget all of your achievements over the last six to 12 months. This won't help when it's time for your performance review.
Keep track of all of your accomplishments within the organization. If clients or colleagues give you compliments, write them down. If the compliment came in an email, print it. If you exceeded last quarter's sales goals, get the paperwork that proves it.
Put all of these great compliments and achievements in a file, and bring the file to your performance review. This gives you hard evidence to prove to your boss what a great job you're doing. Then, when it's time to ask for a pay raise or promotion, it may be harder for your manager to say no.
Getting out of the Shadows
Sometimes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, your manager or colleagues may present your ideas as their own.
However, if you want to get noticed, you must receive credit for your ideas.
If this happens to you, first find out if it's also happening to anyone else. Often, a colleague or boss "borrows" ideas from several people, not just one. One way to discover this is by simply watching other people's body language around this person.
If your colleague or manager is taking credit for only your work, but no one else's, then document it every time it occurs. If practical, "watermark" your work whenever you can (this is a feature in some word processing software packages). If the person claims your ideas as their own in a meeting, gently but firmly correct the misstatement.
Taking on More Responsibilities
You can also get noticed by your manager and other executives by taking on more responsibilities whenever possible.
This doesn't mean that you should overwork yourself! But if you see a new project or role that will help you expand your skills, take advantage of it. Do this, particularly if it's one that has high visibility within the organization, or has a significant impact on the bottom line.
This is particularly important with innovation and process improvement. Developing a reputation as an innovator or creative thinker can be valuable. If you believe that you have the ability to innovate and think of good ideas, then try to get assigned to projects where these skills are valued.
While you're doing this, make sure that you continue to do the core parts of your job well. If you fail to do this, you'll get noticed – but for all the wrong reasons!
More Tips on Getting Noticed
Here are a few more ideas for getting the people you work with to notice you:
- Make sure you're visible – Spend a few minutes every day greeting and talking with your co-workers. A simple smile can help tremendously. Also, try to speak to colleagues face-to-face from time to time, instead of sending emails or instant messages.
- Praise others – If you have a colleague who works as hard as you, then praise the person in front of your manager. Be specific, and sincere, about what the person is doing.
- Stay updated on your industry – Read trade newsletters or other relevant materials that keep you up-to-date on trends and technology. You never know when this information will be valuable.
- Find a mentor – Mentors can offer valuable advice and career coaching. The chances are that the mentor has been through the same situations that you're experiencing, and can help you navigate them successfully.
- Get involved with your organization's charity events – Volunteering for these activities – like running in a race or coaching a children's team – can help you build your network within the organization.
People can often overlook your efforts, even if you consistently work hard. If this happens to you, it's up to you to get noticed and stay in their thoughts, so you can keep moving toward your career goals.
Become a specialist in areas that are important to your organization. Build a network of allies, network inside and outside of work, track your accomplishments, and take on additional responsibilities whenever possible.
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