If you believe that delivering outstanding work will lead to career success, you’re half right. The other half? It’s visibility. If the decision-makers or customers who need to select you to do that great work aren’t aware of the value you can add and your unique mix of skills, you may get overlooked (especially during a crisis).
While visibility is important at all stages of your career, it’s critically important in times of uncertainty. Companies and customers are scrambling to make wise decisions for the long-term health of their businesses during widespread economic unpredictability. And while some will rise to the occasion and make prudent decisions, many will be paralyzed by fear, which can lead to short-term thinking and poor decisions.
Even if you’re lucky enough to work at one of the few organizations with the competence to manage effectively during a crisis, focusing on visibility will set you up for big gains when business returns to a more balanced way of operating. If you’re a stellar performer but are lacking the visibility needed to demonstrate your relevance, here are five strategies that will help:
1) Think of everything as quantifiable. Even if you’re not in a role that easily lends itself to quantifiable results such as a sales position, you can still quantify your work to show the impact it has on company profitability. At first glance, you may not directly see how your work impacts the organization’s bottom line, but it absolutely does. You wouldn’t earn a paycheck otherwise. Here’s how: Today In: Careers
- Flip the question. If you’re struggling to develop a list, ask yourself, “What would fall through the cracks if I stopped showing up tomorrow?” For example, if you schedule travel for the executive team, without you, they wouldn’t be able to meet with clients, bring in new work and sustain the company. So, you contribute in some way to every sale. Once you begin to see yourself as a part of the chain of success, you’ll have an easier time seeing how valuable your role is, and how it can be measured.
- Count everything. It’s easy to allow achievements to pass by unnoticed under the illusion, “well, that’s just my job.” But, your job and the daily tasks you accomplish are the foundation of your visibility strategy. Count work that’s part of a team initiative. Include special projects you contribute to. The point isn’t to take credit where it’s not due, but more often than not, we underestimate our contributions rather than overestimate.
2) Build your visibility strategy. Since great work is only half of the equation, you’ll need a realistic plan to ensure others know what you’re producing, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re currently working from home. Here’s how:
- Create a Dashboard. A dashboard or scorecard is essentially a way to track all your daily tasks and accomplishments in an easily readable manner. Lawyers record billable hours and sales managers report monthly quotas, but your role may not have a standard way to track your contributions. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. So, consider the projects you oversee, clients you manage, meetings you attend, reports you produce, presentations you give, appointments you schedule, calls you take, problems you resolve and ideas you contribute. Your monthly impact is likely greater than you realize.
- Make a distribution plan. You may believe that others, especially your direct managers, know exactly what you’re up to each day, but may be surprised to discover they really don’t. They have their own problems and deadlines, so unless someone raises a concern, they aren’t likely paying too much attention. If you’re not already meeting regularly with your Manager, schedule a monthly check in and share your scorecard. If you have staff meetings where you provide updates, utilize your dashboard for a more professional presentation. Before long, you may see your colleagues adopting a similar strategy for their work.
3) Take an “owner” mindset. Employees who think like owners are constantly scanning the environment for opportunities to make an impact. If you’re not currently thinking this way, now is the time. Instead of saying “that’s not my job,” develop a career-focused mindset and imagine what you could do to make the business grow. Maybe you’d spend more time learning about the customers, for example. While you want to have your manager’s buy in so you don’t unknowingly step on toes, this mindset will ensure you always see opportunities to get noticed. Here’s how:
- Raise your hand. At any given time, large companies usually have task forces, planning committees or other special projects happening that any employee can participate in. Some examples might include social impact endeavors, think tanks to brainstorm retention strategies, or diversity awareness initiatives. Participating will introduce you to new people at all levels of the organization, teach you new skills, and expose you to opportunities to be visible on a broader scale.
- Take advantage of necessity (the mother of invention). Although you may have been perfectly happy with your career trajectory before the coronavirus pandemic, this isn’t the time to coast. Don’t take a wait and see approach, rather find new paths of collaboration, expand your brand to new platforms and brainstorm creative solutions to novel problems. You may have a hidden or underutilized talent that can take center stage now to save the day.
4) Cross-collaborate. Perhaps you already work closely with other departments, but if not, this can be a perfect time to meet additional colleagues, show them what you’re capable of and build your relevance inside the organization. Many companies are highly silo’ed, so partnering with outsiders is a rare occurrence. But it doesn’t need to be. Here’s how:
- Be proactive. Why not reach out to a team that’s doing something interesting and ask how you might incorporate it into your work? Or if you have a problem to solve, seek out the opinion of a completely different department to get a unique perspective. This will not only increase your visibility, but you may find that you develop much more creative ideas and solutions.
- Be the glue. In this two minute video, Dan Pink shares how becoming the “glue” between circles, functions or projects can significantly enhance your value and network.
5) Celebrate others. One often overlooked way to build visibility is by recognizing colleagues. Finding ways to elevate others can also increase your likability and leadership presence. And you don’t need to be the boss to do it. Here’s how:
- Share wins. If you’re working as part of a team that had a recent win, share the achievement with others, naming all of your colleagues that were involved. Even though you’re not naming yourself, the fact that you were a part of the team will be noticed and indirectly impact your visibility. And, send a message to thank those who’ve helped you, copying their supervisor. These small gestures can go a long way in building camaraderie, likability and yes, visibility!
- Utilize company-sponsored awards. Many organizations have internal programs where you can recognize your colleagues for a job well-done. Take advantage of these and give a shout out to those individuals in your department (or other departments) who’ve helped you or contributed to a positive outcome. These awards are likely noticed by higher-ups, including the person who gave them.
We’re experiencing unprecedented times, so these steps are more critical than ever as we all face career uncertainty. And the good news is that these steps will not only help you solidify your relevance in your organization for now, but will be a valuable long-term strategy to build a lasting career for the future.