About a year ago, I was hosting a training session on the topic of emotional intelligence. I asked the professionals in the room to shout out some of the feelings they experience on an average workday.
I heard: happy, frustrated, stressed, angry, overwhelmed, fulfilled, engaged, irritated, and a variety of other applicable words.
But then, I heard someone shout a word that made me pause: Invisible.
Ouch. That one hit me in the gut.
Is there anything worse? I’ve definitely experienced it myself and I can assure you: Feeling invisible at work is truly miserable. No matter what you do, it never seems good enough to garner positive attention. You feel totally alone and taken advantage of. You start to wonder if anyone would care—or even notice—if you didn’t show up for a week. But then, of course, you know you’d suddenly become hyper-visible if that were to happen!
I know from my own experience early in my career that my visibility issues were largely of my own making. My behaviors contributed to the situation in a big way. I expected recognition and visibility simply for showing up. I didn’t understand just how competitive the workplace can be or how difficult it can be to stand out from the crowd.
Eventually, I took matters into my own hands. I was sick of being invisible. I was tired of waiting around for people to acknowledge my presence. I decided that, if I really wanted to get noticed, I was going to have to do things that warranted the spotlight. I was going to make myself impossible to overlook.
And guess what? It worked! I’m living proof that you have the power to raise your visibility in the workplace by taking the right kind of action. I can assure you that, no matter what your career goals, more visibility is always a good thing. When you’re visible, you earn more rewards and more recognition. When people know who you are and what you’re capable of, they’re more likely to send opportunities your way. Visibility is a fundamental requirement for getting where you want to go in your career.
If you feel invisible at work, now is your chance to make a change. Here are some of my top recommendations to help you raise your visibility.
- Be vocal! Speak up about:
- Your ideas and experience. Just make sure what you’re sharing is meaningful. Don’t talk just for the sake of hearing your own voice.
- Your accomplishments. Learn how to “brag” in the right way.
- Your difference of opinion…even if it’s unpopular. Don’t be afraid to voice dissent in a way that is tactful, useful and professional. And remember: if you’re identifying a problem, always try to identify a possible solution at the same time.
- Volunteer to take on leadership positions. The added responsibility means more risk, but it also means more potential reward.
- Volunteer to own the task/project that no one else wants. When you “take one for the team,” others notice and appreciate it. Plus, those items that are known for being burdensome are usually also the most high-profile.
- Get to know people in other areas of the business. Be friendly, smile and make eye contact with people in the halls, chat with them in the break room and on the elevator, and so on. Create meaningful connections by showing curiosity, learning about them, and demonstrating your support for their goals.
- Find simple ways to go “above and beyond” in your daily activities. Look for those value-add strategies that require minimal extra time and effort, but have a powerful impact on the final outcome.
- Show confidence. People are automatically drawn to those who appear poised and self-assured. This is especially noticeable when the people around you know you’re under pressure. Handle it well and you’ll really stand out.
Take it from me: You don’t have to settle for feeling invisible at work. Don’t wait for others to shine the spotlight on you; instead, grab that spotlight and point it on yourself! Otherwise, you’ll be destined to stay in the dark.