By: Anja Uitdehaag
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
~ Will Rogers ~
Much more than men, women held to the belief that doing good work – great work even – is enough to climb the corporate ladder. But the reality is, in today’s competitive work environment, being bright, hard working, and having a positive attitude aren’t enough. Capabilities like intuition, nurturing others and strong interpersonal skills are important but they won’t help you be sufficiently recognized for your work.
Success is not only about the caliber of your work.
Hard work and good work are the expected standards. You need to go above and beyond that if you want to stand out from the crowd. Visibility is just as important as ability. If nobody knows how great your work is, it’s not going to get you anywhere. If you aren’t proactive about reporting your accomplishments, you’ll never get recognized for your good work.
According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, visibility is the vital key to becoming the kind of person who gets promotions, raises, and access to opportunities.
As he shares in his book, Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don’t, research confirms that there’s a real disconnect between your performance and your job outcome. The “effect of your accomplishments on those ubiquitous performance evaluations and even on your job tenure and promotion prospects” is much smaller than you’d expect. As annoying and unfair as it can be, perception often becomes reality in the workplace.
People who develop a personal branding and marketing approach understand how to convey the value of their technical skills to their colleagues, bosses and clients, which is why they outperform those who rely solely on their abilities.
In order to grow your career it is important that the decision maker believes you have the growth potential as well as the strong team relationships to do the job on the next level.
You can’t move up at work, or be thought of for next big opportunities, without being seen.
Typically, men find it easier than women to raise their visibility. Jane Cranwell-Ward, director of the Henley Learning Partnership, says: “Lack of self-confidence is a major issue in the career advancement of women. Women tend to judge themselves more harshly – this reflects on their image. In contrast, men present themselves in a much more favourable light. Women should adopt a more focused approach, be quicker to seek a role model and value their own strengths and capabilities.”
Creating visibility for your-self by self-promotion (or self-advocating) is a leadership skill when you leverage the results of your work across the organization. Self-promotion doesn’t have to mean shouting from the rooftops about how good you really are. There are more subtle ways to make yourself visible, even if you are not naturally outgoing:
- Decide what you want to be known for and become known as an “expert” in those areas. By doing this you can very easily position yourself as the go-to person for that specific skill;
- Have a variety of mentors and sponsors who advise you on your career and the company culture. Sponsors also advocate for you, making sure that your work is visible to influential people in the company.
- Speak up in meetings: take the time to write out what you want to say beforehand. When you have something prepared, it makes it more likely that you will speak, and that you say what you mean.
- Volunteer for opportunities that will give you a chance to interact with senior management;
- Talk about your accomplishments and those of your team. Gaining visibility isn’t limited to highlighting your own expertise or contributions; it should also include supporting your team. Make sure you always share the credit with those who have helped you along the way;
- Schedule one-on-one meetings if you have a difficult time being yourself in group meetings. One-on-ones are a great opportunity to talk about your work and how it affects the company.
- Grow your network strategically: Write down your networking objectives and think about how best to reach the people you want to build relationships with.
- Serve as an internal advocate and mentor for others — both women and men: Junior women and men benefit from having male and female mentors. Mentoring also can be a rewarding way to grow professionally and to expand your leadership skills.
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