There are two ways of thinking about being visible in the workplace. One is that “I work really hard and my management knows that I do a good job so I don’t need any more visibility.” The other is that “I work hard and do a good job, but I also recognize that getting in front of my management is important to my success.”
I was someone who believed in the first example above. Being visible felt like “playing politics” and I didn’t want to do it. I rationalized that visibility wasn’t important and I had always been promoted before without doing it, so why do it now? However, I learned that once you reach a certain level in the organization, that lack of visibility will hold you back and you won’t continue to progress.
I can look back now and see that my thinking was just an excuse. I was operating from fear and a belief that you had to brag about yourself to be visible. That isn’t true. I have learned a lot about the importance of visibility to have career success. It doesn’t have to be hard and it can be created in a way that is authentic to you and your style.
The Benefits of Visibility for You
There are many benefits that you will gain by being more visible. I will share a few to help you see why visibility is important.
First, this may seem basic, but people will know who you are. This is especially important in larger organizations where there are many team members that are not known to senior management. They are known to their team members and manager, but that is it. When it comes time for succession planning, if you are not known then no one can consider you for a promotion or additional responsibilities. Someone who has a positive or even a negative view of you is better than having no view of you at all.
The second is that people can see the value that you add to the team and your company. Hiding behind others diminishes the value that you bring and it limits your potential to do more. Ask yourself why you aren’t out in front more. There are simple ways to start out doing this to build your confidence and get used to being in the spotlight. Present something in a meeting, lead a volunteer group, or write something for the company newsletter. Try things that push you out of your comfort zone, but fit well with who you are and your style.
The last one that I will share here is that it benefits your team. Your visibility automatically helps provide a view of what your team is doing if you talk about it. Share the accomplishments and wins that they have and what they are working on next. It also helps to provide visibility to team members that are ready for the next step. Introduce them to people who have influence, give them opportunities to lead things, and talk about them when you are having conversations with senior management. Your support of them is one of the most important signs that they have a strong potential to do more in the organization.
I hope this helps you see why visibility can be so important for you and your team. Think about the career goals that you or your team members have and how visibility can be used to help reach them faster.
Take the Lead to be Visible
Think about a meeting you have been in with a large group of people. A question came up for you, but you hesitated to ask it. What happened at that moment? For some, they may assume that everyone else probably knows the answer and they are embarrassed to ask, so they keep quiet. For others, it may mean that they don’t want to stand out by asking the question, so they don’t say anything and choose to ask someone else later.
In both of these scenarios, it is a question of being confident enough to be visible in a room of people. So much comparison occurs in these situations. It becomes an internal battle of when to stand out and when to stay hidden. The fear that you feel will keep you as safe, but it also prevents others from seeing the value that you bring.
What if you asked that question and it sparked a new line of thinking that made for a rich conversation that wouldn’t have otherwise happened? What if you assume that others in the room have the same question? Would you be the leader and ask it on their behalf? Sometimes it is easier to take the lead to support other people if you have fear to do it for yourself.
How can you raise your visibility for yourself and others at work?
Susan M Barber, President of Susan M Barber Coaching & Consulting, LLC, works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build skills that leaders need to attain breakthrough results. Her passion for coaching and leadership development is driven by seeing the transformation of leaders as they reach far beyond their own ideas of success. She continues to drive custom programs for groups that want to make changes in their careers to become more powerful leaders.