Have you struggled with visibility? The kind that garners the promotional opportunity you’ve been thinking about and know you deserve? That’s the thing about getting noticed; you want to be seen and valued for your experience and skill set, and when you’re not? You question yourself.
In this hybrid world we live in; work environments have changed. Research has shown employees have reported feeling they have less access to their leaders and less visibility into opportunities. Not to mention for many, it poses learning challenges and creates competitive circumstances compared to peers and colleagues who are onsite.
The last few years also proved people are hungry for more purpose and meaning in their work which, in part, also means staying connected to an organization’s broader goals—understanding those bigger, strategic goals gives employees insight into how they can contribute.
The thing about visibility is it only goes so far. Not because you need to do more than you think you are or work harder, but because sometimes you’ve done all you can, and it’s time for a different move. The kind that has you exiting left.
When discussing increasing corporate visibility, your working environment matters and is not spoken about enough, let alone it’s often overlooked.
A former client was working in an engineering role as part of a newly created team. She was known for presenting great ideas the team valued in a fast-growing mid-sized organization. She was eager to step into her next role, yet she struggled with a leader who barely gave her any direction on her next move, let alone a road map on how to get there.
She rarely received meaningful feedback and spent more time asking for what she needed to be better supported than actually getting it. Not only did she take various initiatives to support the organization’s growth (and to help herself stand out), but the little direction she did get was also loosely provided, which was part of the feedback to her leader.
Her leader didn’t value growth and didn’t support my former client in hers. Unfortunately, this leader focused their attention and time elsewhere, leaving my former client to figure out how she could advance her career on her own.
After a few months of nothing changing except more organizational changes, she decided to leave. She found a better opportunity in a larger organization (with a more supportive and experienced leader) for a position she wanted. And yes, a better working environment.
The misconception about executives is that because they’re so senior, they should know what to do or don’t need help. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Leaders who are invested in their growth appreciate they are always learning and are students for life.
That requires leaders and executives above them who equally share this belief. If not, you’ll face a leader like my former client, who doesn’t value growth and development and won’t support you on your own.
Where discriminatory practices are at play, conditional opportunities making it difficult for some to get, and mistreatment of employees, taking the initiative to help you stand out may very well not support you in gaining the visibility you’re after. If this sounds like your organization, is this the environment you still want to grow in?
When you’re working on increasing visibility to reach those higher-level opportunities, you need the right people around you and a leader that champions you. Typically, you want your leader to do any one or all three of these things:
- To recognize your performance, skills, and experience
- To put in a good word on your behalf to senior management when opportunities are open and available
- To support you in getting said opportunities by including you in meetings, having meaningful discussions on how to shine, etc.
If your senior management team is the problem or you’re not getting support from your direct leader, it’s not you – it’s your environment. Poor leaders breed poor leaders and don’t make for a thriving work environment. I’ve seen clients, women especially, wrack their brains on what else they need to do differently to gain visibility when all their efforts continue to go unnoticed.
That’s not an invitation to try harder or to question your capabilities; sometimes, the answer is to go where you can bloom. The answer can be as simple as that.
You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are. You’ve made moves to learn different aspects of the business – sometimes lateral, sometimes vertical. You’ve taken the initiative, solved problems no one else has, and created opportunities where there weren’t any.
After all your efforts investing in your professional and personal development, you’re still struggling to get the coveted opportunity you have your eye on. Your next move is to identify a healthier environment where you’re afforded more opportunities that recognize you.
The effort and time it may take to find such an opportunity are well worth the investment than continuing to spin your wheels in an environment that will overlook an exceptional leader like you who’s going unrecognized.
With so much appreciation,
P.S. Did you hear the news? Lead as FEMME kicks off on January 23rd, and there’s still room to join! I believe in the power of this leadership development program and am thrilled to be offering it. It is not only needed but necessary to support more women who want to embrace their feminine qualities while achieving success as leaders. I’d be honoured to work with you and look forward to seeing you inside the program.