Have you been told that you’re not visible in the workplace? Whether this feedback comes as a surprise or, like nearly a quarter of everywomanNetwork members I, you were aware of the problem, you’re most likely wondering: “How?”
At that time of year when many of you are facing the annual performance review, the first of our series on common feedback from bosses, looks at how women across the wider everywomanNetwork took up the challenge to increase their exposure internally.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP TO A MORE VISIBLE YOU: STRATEGICALLY PUT YOUR HAND UP FOR EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
“I was shocked when my boss told me that senior managers in my department were oblivious to all my achievements, that some didn’t even know who I was! I’d worked my socks off all year, delivered on every objective and then some, and just assumed that would filter up and everyone would be aware I was a grafter and a valuable member of the team.
I decided to take a leaf out of a colleague’s book. He seemed to have a hit list of senior figures he wanted to shine before, and took every opportunity to elevate himself in their eyes. When my boss went on holiday, I asked if I could represent her in meetings and I spent a lot of time preparing to deliver those updates. I volunteered on a buddy system project for organisational newcomers, which I knew would get my name out there. Instead of sending an email update on my team’s weekly targets, we created a big ever changing visual above our desks, which people were always stopping by to ask questions about.
It certainly got my name out there, and gave me more opportunities to share the results of my work.”
UNCOMFORTABLE BLOWING YOUR OWN TRUMPET? ELEVATE YOUR TEAM INSTEAD…
“Everybody ought to have one or two stakeholders that are not in their direct line; one or two people who know them and like them and value them and you can go to for advice if you need it.
I also think we’re not very good at selling ourselves internally and a lot of women feel uncomfortable doing that. There’s a device I use which I find quite useful whereby I will say thank you to my team but I’ll send the note to my boss and maybe copy his boss too.
So I’m not saying “It was me!”; I’m saying “Look how fantastically well my team did!” but of course there is a reflection on my performance and that for me feels a more confortable way of raising my own profile.”
I FIGURED OUT WHAT SKILLSET THE BUSINESS WAS LACKING AND I FILLED IT
“When I joined a media sales agency as the youngest and most junior member of the entire company, I spent a long time feeling intimidated by the levels of experience around me, and focused on what I lacked. As I gained the confidence to speak up more in team meetings, I noticed that people often asked me questions about social media and digital trends; there was an assumption that I knew more about all of that because of my age.
I saw an opportunity to become an expert. I signed up to newsletters, read everything I could, joined relevant LinkedIn groups, asked for the occasional afternoon off to attend a talk or conference, and began sharing all this knowledge in a more formal way – organising drop in lunchtime learning sessions for my colleagues. Before long I became the go-to person for all things related to this topic, received a better job title, and was invited to participate in projects and meetings happening right across the business and which were way outside my original remit.”
PERFECT YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH AND SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO USE IT
“There is an art to networking and it’s not just in the formal environment. I’d get in the lift and our chief executive would say, “How’s business?”. Well you don’t say “Oh yeah it’s fine, thank you”. You say “Well actually this is going well and we’re working on that project at the moment and this is exciting”.
You’re doing a 20-second pitch, so that when he steps out of that lift there’s one little thing that he might remember. [Think about] what would be interesting for that person to hear, what [you’re] doing that nobody else is doing, [something] that’s really innovative.”
TAKE A BIG DOSE OF COURAGE AND ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
“I decided that I wanted to be in a bank training programme. I had a good head for numbers. And the work looked really interesting from the chair I’d occupied as a secretary. I went in and applied in every bank. And I got turned down flat by every bank. But I wasn’t in the mood to take “no” for an answer.
At least one bank allowed me to have an interview with the gentleman who ran the programme. I got in his office and I sat there and I badgered, bickered and begged, and three hours later I wore him down and he offered me a job. I have to tell you, if somebody did that to me today I’d call security and have them removed! But I was given a chance.
He said “I don’t know if you’re going to succeed or fail, but I’ve never seen somebody want anything so much”. He gave me the opportunity and he conditioned I go to night school and gain an MBA in finance. I owe it to him that I got the job, but also that he made me realise I needed further credentials.”
THE ULTIMATE PROFILE-RAISING GAME CHANGER: NOMINATE YOURSELF FOR AN AWARD
“One sure way of raising your profile is to enter an award like the NatWest everywoman Awards. They’re fabulous and they’re confidence building.
Any woman who feels that they merit such an award [should] get themselves nominated.”
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a leadership role to put yourself forward; our numerous awards programmes have honoured countless women at all ages, from all backgrounds, and at each and every stage of corporate or entrepreneurial life. If you’re making a difference in your own unique way, put yourself, or have a colleague, boss, mentor, sponsor, client, partner or even friend put you forward for consideration by our judging panels.
Read on for practical tips on increasing your exposure without stealing others’ limelight or blowing your own trumpet:
(July 2015)Managing your visibility and influence within your organisation[i] Source: everywoman webinar