John and Stan are senior analysts. Both report to Jane. John is in the office at 9 AM and leaves at 5 PM. He gives 100% on the job and produces high-quality work. Stan arrives to work two hours before and leaves two hours later than John every day, but his work output is half of John’s.
Jane recommends John for a promotion, but her manager Paul is challenging it. He believes Stan deserves the promotion over John. Jane is confused since Stan is an average employee at best. Paul explains that Stan is always first in the office and usually the last to leave, more employees need to be more like him.” She explains John is more efficient and produces higher quality work, hence the promotion recommendation.
The importance of perception management and visibility plays a vital role in your job. Stan is perceived to be a hard worker, and John’s work is not visible beyond his manager. Perception management focuses on active and passive actions that imprint an image of yourself onto others. In other words, it’s about managing how others perceive you. If you keep missing deadlines, others will perceive you to be unreliable. If you act like an idiot, guess what? Others will see you as an idiot. On the other hand, positive perceptions may help you to gain visibility in the organization.
Visibility has two components: your physical presence in the organization, and the visibility of your work and its value. How often do you walk by or pass certain people in the office and know exactly who they are and what they do? They are the rock stars of the workplace, yet, they have no idea who you are. Those people have high presence visibility. Is your work visible to other middle and senior level managers? If your contributions are visible to the right people, and they notice the value of them, it may increase the chances of career advancement.
Increasing visibility may be difficult due to your job position. For example, what if your role does not require interaction with others and the work produced never leaves the confines of the department? Look for other avenues in the company to gain visibility. Participating in company sponsored charity and volunteering events provides an excellent opportunity to meet employees in other departments. You will instantly improve your visibility with the added benefit that the people you will meet will most likely be from other parts of the organization. So get out there, meet new people, and let them know who you are and what you do!
Back to the story of John and Stan. What steps could Jane have taken to justify her recommendation for John’s promotion? Jane should highlight the team’s accomplishments to her manager throughout the year and give credit to whom it is due. What could John have done to increase his visibility? Perhaps, John should have asked Jane how his work is visible to others in the organization. To put it another way, are his hard efforts recognized beyond his manager? If not, are there opportunities for his contributions to be more visible in the organization?