Although many people may say they don’t care what others think, the truth is that we humans are social beings. And we need to be visible to those around us, both in the family setting and at work.
In the business world, that means you want them to see your work, appreciate your professional merit, and value your commitment. It’s not vanity, but rather a sense of belonging and motivation. At any level of an organization, we all need that recognition from our bosses and colleagues to feel useful and perform better.
In fact, a study done by IESE Professor Sebastien Brion notes that higher-status employees tend to work less on tasks that others don’t see. Whereas when they have an audience, they do better to measure up to expectations.
On the other hand, the expansion of hybrid work and growing diversity now present unprecedented challenges for boosting our visibility. There are new ways of doing things and getting noticed for professionals. And the presence of different profiles on a team means that not everyone is going to want to or be able to be seen in the same way at the same time.
Plus, visibility should be administered carefully. Although most of its effects can be very positive for your career, there are also some risks that you should keep in mind.
Benefits and risks of raising your visibility at work
Receiving greater recognition for your effort, your skills, or your commitment at work is essentially good news that can help you:
Grow your credibility and influence in the organization, which are two of the great pillars of leadership.
Access new opportunities or positions, from promotions and raises to new challenges and innovative projects.
Build a valuable network, making yourself known among higher-ups and managers from other departments.
Enjoy your job more, which can translate into more motivation and better performance.
Managing this recognition well – keeping your feet on the ground – will help you navigate the main risks associated with excessive visibility. Ultimately, you don’t want the pressure on you to multiply, nor for your workload to become untenable, nor to create serious friction with other professionals who may feel invisible by your side.
Why do you need to be seen in your organization?
In reality, no two people will want to achieve exactly the same thing by raising their visibility at work. The diversity of teams today also means there are very different agendas. That’s what makes it so important for you to clearly identify your objectives before starting to do anything to make yourself more visible:
Do you want to get a promotion or a raise?
Do you need a new hire approved for your team to be able to delegate part of your work and focus on where you add more value?
Do you feel stuck in your career and seek new challenges?
Your own agenda will surely vary a great deal depending on the stage of life or career you’re in. The objectives for raised visibility don’t tend to be the same for someone who just had a child, a young hire coming through at full speed, or a veteran professional who feels forgotten.
Keys to boosting your visibility at work
Once you’ve identified your objectives and analyzed the advantages and challenges of visibility, it’s time to get to work. These steps are a good way to get started:
Actively participate in meetings and projects. Your voice needs to be heard loud and clear. Do excellent work and strengthen your reputation as a reliable and necessary member of the team. Reach out to high-potential professionals who are also trying to raise their visibility. There’s strength in numbers.
Understand the priorities of the people who you want to recognize you. Stay a step ahead, listen to their needs, and give them what they most value at all times. Keep in mind that what they most value won’t always be what you think they should value.
Justify your visibility with new skills or a clear intention to develop them. You can demonstrate these skills with your work, building on qualities you possess but have never put into practice in the office, or with your willingness to take on new projects and receive training in strategic areas.
Be friendly, empathetic, and generous. Would you like it if someone tried to get your attention by being more aggressive with their colleagues? Neither would your bosses. That’s why a friendly, generous, and personable attitude will be much more effective in your strategy to raise your visibility.
The type of visibility that you need to cultivate is also going to depend on who you want to recognize you. Drawing the attention of people at a similar level to you is not the same as getting noticed by your boss or an executive. If your objectives are to raise yourprofile among the company’s top brass, you should keep a few other things in mind:
Try to establish relationships in the key leadership groups of the organization and be part of projects that affect several departments.
Seek and propose innovative solutions to long-standing problems.
Always think and act strategically.
Link your growth to that of your team and the organization.
Be prudent with your immediate superiors so they don’t feel betrayed.
How to become more visible in hybrid or virtual environments
Finally, you will have to adapt your visibility strategy to your particular scenario, depending on whether it’s fully in-person, hybrid, or completely virtual. Obviously, being face-to-face every day isn’t the same as basing your interactions on videocalls. In this context, you should adapt the previous recommendations to two particulars of your audience:
Are they in the office or teleworking? Know the times set for remote and in-person work at your organization. Remember, you want to make yourself visible to specific people and effectively convey your message. To do so, find out beforehand how you’ll be communicating.
How can I help? Every level of the organization faces different problems when working in hybrid or virtual environments. You can take advantage of them to improve your visibility with initiatives and gestures to make their lives easier:
Normally, top managers need to improve the strategic coordination of large and dispersed areas, as well as foster the well-being and commitment of all employees. Meanwhile, the priority of middle managers is to streamline certain communications, manage the productivity of their teams on a day-to-day basis, and address their concerns. Finally, the rest of the employees need to keep communicating and working together, maintaining a friendly atmosphere and avoiding annoying interruptions.
Navigating between the fear of selling yourself and fighting for the visibility you think you deserve isn’t easy. But you’ll never know until you try. If you don’t, you run the risk of your professional merit remaining obscured by your discretion. The IESE executive education programs will help you boost the visibility of your leadership qualities to continue advancing your career and have a greater impact on your organization.
Want more visibility? Cultivate your personal brand
Making yourself more visible in your organization inevitably involves developing and raising the profile of your personal brand: a strong and recognizable image that helps you build a reputation that conveys credibility and commitment. You can start by following these tips:
Find your essence as a brand. Ask yourself what is your purpose in the organization, your vision, your mission, and your values.
Identify your current brand. As for constructive feedback from your colleagues that will help you describe where you’re starting from.
Design your value proposal. Focus on what makes your qualities, work, and commitment unique.
Build your brand identity. Create a narrative about your professional self and a way of communicating it.
Develop a communication strategy. Think about what message you want to convey, who you want to tell it to, and in which contexts or channels.