Many of my clients are individual contributors, team leads, and first-level managers. Despite their excellent work they lament that their work does not get the visibility and recognition it deserves throughout their organization. This becomes painfully apparent to them during their annual performance review and during the time their promotion is due.
In many companies a manager or senior professional-level promotion (from Staff Engineer to Principal Engineer, Analyst to a Manager, or from a Copy Writer to a Creative Lead, for example) depends on other department heads agreeing to the person’s contributions and the person, before they vote positively on that promotion. Many of my clients complain that despite their great contributions their managers are hamstrung by the lack of visibility of their work and of themselves.
What this implies is that merely doing great work in any organization is often not enough. You must make yourself, your work, and its impact visible to those that matter. Despite the saw, Good work speaks for itself, my view is that it does not often speak loud enough. Also, if you do not promote your own work and yourself, someone else will hijack it away from you and promote themselves in your stead and take away the credit you deserve. I have known managers that routinely do this and take the credit for their subordinates’ work.
This blog is about how to increase your visibility and impact in your own organization in addition to doing great work. Even if you decide that you do not want to go the management route—staying on the technical ladder—following these tips will allow you to protect your reputation and even enhance it to allow you to claim what is rightfully yours.
- Be clear about the work (of course, this is the work that goes outside your ‘order-taking tasks’) that you are doing and how it is going to impact your immediate organization and others. Find out ways to quantify the impact of your work. If you are not sure work with your boss to formulate some ways to capture this objectively.
- Before you complete and deliver the final result or release, draft an email about what the project was (or is) and how it is expected to impact others within your own organization and outside. Make some prediction and projection of the project’s benefits and articulate how it is going to change the status quo.
- Give credit to all that have worked on the project, including your boss and discuss this draft with your boss. Do not let your boss hijack this memo away from you and take its authorship in their name. This is an important step in this process.
- Ask your boss the names of all the higher-ups that must be included in this memo. Since you have already included your boss’ name as a key contributor to this success she is going to give you an expansive list of higher-ups to whom you distribute this email (as CCs).
- After the email goes out initiate discussions within and outside your organization about the success and act as a spokesperson that championed the change. Soon you’ll become the go-to person for anything related to this topic and you’ll increase your visibility.
To many, doing great work and making meaningful contribution come naturally. Using the suggestions from this blog you can further enhance the benefit of your contributions to your own advantage.