It's not working hard that determines your promotion. It's making your hard work and yourself visible that determines your promotion.
It's true. Visibility leads to promotability.
Visibility involves connecting the dots from the work you do to the promotion you are looking for, meaning you are working to make your hard work and yourself visible to be noticed, recognized, and rewarded. Visibility opens the door wide for promotion as key decision-makers come to know and like you, hear and feel the impact of the work you do, and imagine your potential for the organization.
Getting promoted fast is the gateway for rewarding career moves within and beyond current employment over a 30-year horizon. The obvious financial rewards and further career advancement possibilities compound over time to create considerable professional and personal value.
If I were to rewind my career 25 years, I would have done a few things differently, sooner rather than later. The Pareto principle says that 20% of our activities drive 80% of the results we tend to get in any area. I believe this principle holds in corporate life, as well.
Let me list the top 3 things that continue to work for me to get visibility with key decision-makers.
1. Make Your Voice Heard Where It Matters
It is easy to remain quiet in a meeting, presentation, or discussion if you are not specifically called upon or where you feel it's not your area of expertise. Why risk sounding stupid, right?
At the same time, consistently making your views heard creates a strong impression that you are vocal and have a view. Introverts may have a challenge in these situations as they typically need more time to process information before they can make their views known.
The downside in remaining quiet or less vocal is that it creates undesired impressions with key decision-makers about our perceived value over time and evolves into entrenched perceptions that we don't have a view or are nor visible enough.
I invite you to check in with yourself about whether you are confidently making your views heard with key decision-makers.
2. Cultivate Relationships With Key Decision-makers Early on
In corporate life, the focus is on delivering results. Building relationships typically is not front and center of our minds and tends to be dealt with as and when required to get things done.
Relationship building with key people, however, is a prerequisite to getting things done effectively and efficiently. Our ability to influence key decision-makers will largely be determined by the level of relationship we have established with each of them. This principle has been one of my biggest lessons over the course of my corporate life: Establish the relationship first before you start calling on someone's help or support to get things done.
In many situations, challenges in getting work done can be attributed to poor investment in relationships with key people who matter. Where do you see the current challenges in getting things done? Assess the level of relationships established with people in these areas.
3. Create Opportunities to be Noticed
If you look around, you will find avenues where you can easily put yourself in front of key decision-makers. These occasions may be in a work-related or social setting. Look for existing opportunities to engage with decision-makers on a wide range of matters from a work or personal perspective where you can add value to what they are already doing or what interests them.
In the beginning, operating this way may feel slightly unnatural if it's not your default style or personality preference. What you will find over time is that persistence with this approach opens the door to developing relationships with key people.
Here's the thing: These opportunities provide the platform to make your views heard and cultivate relationships at the same time. Consistency in creating and taking advantage of these opportunities is key to creating visibility with the range of key decision-makers who are relevant to your work now, in the near future, and over the long term.
I truly believe what author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, "You can't change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight."
Gerald Ebenezer, CA, CPA(M), is a career professional and coach with 25 years of experience spanning internal audit and business roles for large companies in Malaysia and New Zealand.
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