Even with video conferencing, global travel (less so currently) and a huge array of communication platforms, it can be incredibly hard for mid-level leaders or sole contributors to get noticed and really start to move their career forward. The main cause for this, if they’re already doing your job right, is that they aren’t visible to senior leadership and I don’t mean just their boss.
As a junior engineer you have a close relationship with your manager, lots of oversight and you’re delivering things (I hope) on a small scale at a regular frequency or maybe you’re doing support tickets that are easy to track and measure. Then you start to progress up and delivery is often at a larger scale, over a broader area and delivery takes longer. Additionally, people often get less time with their manager or leadership as you start to become self-sufficient. On the one hand this is great as you have freedom to operate, lead and get some time back 😊, however, you get less visibility
I’ve seen time and time again where people settle and it’s really disappointing to see. Someone will get to a stage in their career and their progress plateaus, they are doing a good job, getting paid well for what they do, or not, and decide that they have reached their level as they don’t get passed new work or opportunities. They often start to see others in the organisation, that they are better than or think they are, moving forward and start feeling resentment or decide this really is their level
What you must remember is that leaders have a lot going on with challenges coming from all over, so you need to be:
Top of mind means tip of tongue – Jonah Berger
I love this quote!
When a new project or technology kicks off and your manager is asked who to include or lead it, you want to be the first name in their head. You want the history of success that they remember, the good collaborations and traits they value but also, just in their thoughts. Our minds work in strange ways and it’s the reason that the person sat just outside the manager’s office gets a lot of work. It’s not always that the manager is lazy, sometimes it is, but also that person is in their eyeline, they exchanged pleasantries at the start of day, bumped into each other getting coffee.
Throughout my career I’ve continually progressed from support through to engineering, management, architecture and leadership, taking on larger groups or wider remit each time and these are some of my personal tips I’ve used to get noticed:
Step 1 – Get Communicating!
Know your audience – sounds obvious, however it’s so important with global companies and diverse workforces
Culture – understand the culture of the people you’re interacting with, for example, American’s generally don’t get sarcasm so avoid that in meetings 😊, some cultures can be very hierarchical which means communicating over a manager or across groups is not good form. Do a little research
Behaviour/Traits/Personality – there are so many tools that companies use like DISC, Myers-Briggs etc. that are used for team dynamics or personal effectiveness. These can be very frustrating if people use them the wrong way, however using them to understand the person you need to communicate with is very powerful.
If your manager is detail orientated, don’t take a 1-page slide asking for $500k to implement a new technology. You need to provide context, value, risk, costings etc. or they will just reject it and you’ve damaged your credibility
Improve your email and communication
Emails trigger people! A poorly worded email or even a well worded one can cause emotional triggers as there is little context or emotion in them. If you’re asking for something, I suggest doing it via a call or meeting and then follow up with an email for confirmation and detail.
If you have to do it via email, ask yourself if there’s anything that cold be better? Is the purpose clear, will they understand the context, value or criticality? Remember, you’re writing the email which means you know that and they might not.
Also, what’s in it for them? If you’re asking them to do a lot of work to help you’re project they aren’t going to be overly enthusiastic unless they get something out of it
Ask yourself - “If I was receiving this, what else would I want to know?”
Speak up at meetings
It’s so important to not be the silent person in meetings. You generally won’t get a black mark for keeping silent, unless you ask loads of questions after, however, a good question or comment during a meeting shows you’re paying attention and someone who adds value. Again, top of mind
If you ask a question or make a comment provide specific examples for context, much like the email point
A word of warning don’t just add ANOTHER example of a problem or same use case just with a different name/group. This feels good personally, but it slows the meeting down and also frustrates a lot of people. I often call say that people are both arguing for the same thing. It just feels like you’re trying to show you’re clever but are adding nothing
In addition to meetings a lot of organisations now have TEAMs, slack or other channels for communication. Get know for answering questions, asking questions, providing insight. People are watching those channels so it’s another chance to shine
The last one is a bit about communication and just general manners. If you’re attending meetings turn up on time!! I shouldn’t need to write more about this but it’s a first impression so it’s key, don’t get known as the person who is always late
Turn on your video
If it’s a meeting that can have video, use video! Most people are visual, to get top of mind you need to be in their mind and seeing someone ins a better wat to be remembered. In addition, you can make eye contact, show focus and prove you’re not a 2 headed alien. After all, how does that person know if they’ve never seen you. We still trust people more in life if we’ve met them and know them to be like us
I hope you like the first part to this newsletter on getting noticed, I’ll have further ones to talk about mindset and delivery, so keep an eye on your inbox and have a great week
If you liked this newsletter, please share and let you friends and colleagues know as I’d love to help more people!