Personal effectiveness trap
When you are a high-performer, it may seem to you that the attention of literally everyone is focused on your outstanding personal effectiveness. It may seem to you that the management is delighted when you have:
- exceeded the plan,
- obtained a new customer,
- grabbed market share,
- expanded service coverage,
- minimized taxes,
- avoided a large penalty for the company,
In other words, you brought an outcome which is above average for the company. And maybe even above the industry average. But after some time you have realized, that no one tracked your progress. And nobody in the company knows about your significant achievements. Because everyone has their own tasks, their own workload and their own remarkable progress, about what, in turn, you are not aware of, right?
Probably a lot of people are familiar with the personal effectiveness trap, when they are sure that:
- “the more considerable my achievement is — the more people will notice it.”
- “at least my manager should notice it. Because this is his duty, after all.”
But no. Most likely no one will notice, unless you take care of it.
“Most likely no one will notice, unless you take care of it”
Why usually nobody in the office recognize your accomplishments on their own?
Firstly, people are normally more interested in themselves than in others. Unless you are a celebrity, a successful businessman, a politician, a public figure and so on.
Secondly, there is no reason for your colleagues to monitor your personal effectiveness. In contrast, they are focused on their own performance due to a variety of targets and KPIs set up for them by management.
Alright. What about your line manager?
Well, experience shows that your manager may behave in similar way your colleagues do: focus on their own tasks, KPIs and issues. Besides, your manager has a boss too. Therefore, even if your line manager will notice positive changes in the company results, she/he may not associate these results exactly with your work.
So, here we come to the next logical question:
Why get more visibility of your impact?
When the result of your work becomes visible to management or shareholders it opens up opportunities for promotion and salary increase. As you continue advancing in your career you may become an industry recognizable expert. Hence it opens up opportunity to choose the most interesting product or company for you. Not to mention subsequent remuneration increase and status upgrade.
In addition, you are likely to get respect, feeling of accomplishment and finally sense of self-fulfillment.
However, the more visible you are, the higher your chance to evoke envy among colleagues, and even to acquire enemies.
Nevertheless, it is your choice: whether to stay in the shade or shine in the spotlight.
Disclaimer: There is always a chance to become visible, even if you prefer to stay in the shade. And vice versa.
Which path to choose?
There are two main ways to make your contribution within the organization more obvious: straightforward and soft power.
This way may look quite unartful and may cause disapproval from colleagues, although it does not use "dirty techniques". This approach may seem not diplomatic, and perhaps even audacious. Probably because in today's society it's not common to say directly about your desires and intentions. It is considered more acceptable to hint and then expect others to figure out what you want. By the way, this often leads to misunderstanding and problems in business relationships. Anyway, I knew at least one huge company, where the straightforward approach had been cultivated as an essential part of corporate culture. So, here are the steps:
- Recognize decision makers within your organization
- Understand their needs and their focus
- Identify problems on which these people are focused and make efforts to solve these issues.
- Once you have achieved a positive result in an area that is within the focus of decision-maker, you need to immediately inform her/him about it.
- Make sure that someone behind your back does not reap the benefits of your hard work.
Most people feel uncomfortable when it comes to direct self-promotion. And prefer to be more diplomatic. In such case soft power way is more suitable.
Soft power way
Soft power way consists of numerous steps that are not related to each other directly. However, each of these steps aims to increase visibility of your contribution based on your personal effectiveness. Therefore, the more steps you perform, the higher synergy effect you get.
- Develop relations with your manager. Discuss with her/him your work progress. Find out how you could bring more value to the company. Ask about the opportunities that are available or expected in the future.
- Be enthusiastic and grab highly visible tasks and projects.
- Constantly increase expertise in your focus area. Develop skills useful for your position/profession. Stay focused on core skills and knowledge. Find a mentor — this is probably the fastest and easiest way to grow your expertise in certain areas. Formal education, online courses and books are far behind in terms of efficiency. Nevertheless use them too.
- Take the opportunity to represent your branch or department at cross-functional project teams and cross-department meetings. So, employees and managers from other departments and branches become familiar with you.
- Speak in public. Use the opportunity to speak at every meeting with colleagues. Be brief and professional. Share ideas, analytics, and numbers. Ask for feedback. Use active listening. Ask questions. Meeting is the perfect place to demonstrate your professionalism.
- Participate in internal training projects. Share your expertise, take the initiative to provide training for employees and thus become an instructor or coach. Besides, you could create a Mastermind group in your company.
- Admire impact of your team members when presenting a result of every project you are responsible for, especially in public. This will build rapport with your teammates and increase your influence within the team. It’s impossible to become a great leader without a great team.
- Keep an eye on opportunities for your team members. Provide support and recommendations to your teammates. Help them grow. It will give you their trust and strengthen relationships.
- Grow your network. Take advantage of both formal and informal events. Indeed, exhibitions, conferences, corporate parties and other events provide the perfect opportunity to meet people, establish connections, socialize and introduce them to your work and capabilities. Communicate and build relationships with colleagues from all departments. let them know about projects you are working on, as well as your contribution to the final result (do not forget to mention your team as well). It will expand your recognition within the company or even within your industry.
- Use the opportunity to volunteer for the company needs. For example, become a mentor for newcomers. Or write articles for your company blog.
So, you may follow the straightforward way or the soft power way. Or you may mix both ways. However, when developing your personal effectiveness visibility strategy, you should take into account all relevant factors:
- your own goals, plans and desires,
- characteristics of your personality,
- features of your company,
- personality traits of your manager,
- and others.
This article provides only general guidelines, while each case is unique. Therefore, I would suggest you to benefit from the wise advice of your personal coach to build your own unique go-to-visibility plan.
Whatever path you choose, I wish you good luck!