Career Management Personal Branding Skills

Am I in a Stage Show? What Do I Need To Be More Visible at Work?

Ken is a hard working Finance professional with a leading agriculture multinational. He comes in on time and delivers all that is expected of him. His consistency at work is what his team mates value the most. However, at performance review time, he finds it hard to decode a phrase he keeps hearing often -“you need to be more visible at work”.  Unable to fathom what that means he calls on his buddy at work, Natesh to get his views.

Natesh: “Hey Ken. Nice to see you again. Did you move roles or have you shifted buildings? I haven’t spotted you on the cafeteria for a long while”.

Ken: “Am well Natesh. Thanks for meeting me. I have been busy closing out the year-end financial reports. This is the toughest phase in the year for us, as you know”.

Natesh: “Yes, I get that. Tell me about the rigor of getting the numbers right. We can’t afford slip-ups”.

Ken: “Natesh, let me get to the point about why I wanted to meet you. You know me well. I come to work, do a good job and go back home. Have many other priorities in my life as well – my further education programme, buying a new property, teaching children at the orphanage etc. So lots goes in keeping me up and about. Despite all the good work I do, when it comes to appraisals, my manager keeps telling me the same feedback – you need to be more visible! I don’t get it!”

Natesh: “Visible? Hmm. Let me understand this. Did he mean you need to talk about your work?”

Ken: “I did try probing what he meant by this. I keep hitting a dead-end. All he says is that you need to make your work visible to others. Am I coming to work or do a stage performance?”.

Natesh: “I can empathize with you. It isn’t easy being in this position and not knowing what he means by ‘visibility’.”

Ken: “True. It feels like I must wear reflectors at work! They glow and hopefully people will spot me! This is very demotivating. I see others getting promoted and also raises and all they do it be ‘visible’ – according to my manager”.

Natesh: (looking amused) “You at least haven’t lost your sense of humor despite how you feel! That is a positive. That reflector joke is something, I say. Nonetheless, it must be disheartening for you to be feeling ignored. Not the best spot to be in.”

Ken: “I know. I hope this perception changes or else I will need to look outside the organization for work.”

Natesh: ”Hey, don’t take hasty decisions. Consider why you are getting this feedback and what you can do to change”.

Ken: “Well, let me mull over this.”

Natesh knows that Ken isn’t fully convinced about his advice. How can you help Ken appreciate what is taking place? What words of advice do you have for him?

It will be great to your hear your perspectives.

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4 thoughts on “Am I in a Stage Show? What Do I Need To Be More Visible at Work?

  1. I may not be the best person to comment but below are a few things I think can help Ken:
    1. Take active part in team meetings and discussion. Especially when brainstorming any new idea or strategy.
    2. Suggest new ideas for process improvement, team improvement. Ideas to make the team or peers excel at work.
    3. Take up a course internally for skill improvement
    4. Participate in office or team events
    5. Take complete ownership of tasks assigned and work independently and prove yourself. Not necessarily as successful in all tasks but atleast showing that you are a risk taker.

    1. Excellent thoughts Priyanka! Firstly, I must appreciate your initiative to read and post a comment. It isn’t easy to do that – it takes a lot (to be more brave, passionate and committed) to make a difference to other readers by sharing your views publicly. Liked your thoughts about what Ken can do to be more proactive, available, demonstrative of his intent and shape the world around him at work. Well done. Look forward to more perspectives from you.

  2. From what I read, Ken is more rattled by the lack of clarity given by his manager on what he really needs to do when he says that Ken “needs to be more visible”. Despite his asking for more elaboration he’s not getting any closer to what his manager wants exactly from him. What Ken can do is
    1. Observe what his colleagues do during a typical day at work.
    2. Observe what those employees do who are getting raises and promotions.
    3. What he finds may not be what he likes. e.g. he may not like to be a party animal or a hanger on just for the sake of being in the manager’s vision. After all, he seems to be a person who values what he does with his time.
    4. Apart from what Priyanka has suggested, one more thing he can do is talk to his coworkers to get an idea of how he is perceived in the office. Maybe he comes across as an individual contributor who doesn’t gel well with the rest of the team, or he comes across as stand-offish. He might get clues to small changes in his personal and work-related demeanour that might help his contributions stand out without him having to sell his soul.
    5. If none of this works, maybe he’s not the right fit for this setup.

    1. Loved those views Rajani! Makes sense to get a 360 degree understanding of perceptions that may be coming in the way of being your best. The little things matter. Agree completely. Thanks for sharing!

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