Article by Annabel Harper
Several years ago in my earlier career as a journalist, I applied for a promotion. There would be two interviews and the panel included a previous line manager of mine.
After the first interview, he told me he had been unaware of what I had been doing after he moved on to a different role and he had even been surprised initially to see my application. He had assumed I was still in the same position as before. I was delighted to get the job, but it was also an object lesson in the importance of raising my visibility in order to have impact.
Some of my coaching clients want to have more of an impact in their current jobs, either to be recognised for what they contribute or because they want to progress to the next stage of their careers. Waiting for opportunities to come might mean a very long wait! The alternative is to step into what you want and move towards it. This means being courageous, even if it feels a bit risky; stating your case; looking confident, even if you do not feel it internally, and being brave enough to speak out and ask for what you want. It means being bold.
I have found that there are some key ingredients to creating impact through being bold which clients have found helpful and have been effective. Here are five approaches which I recommend:
- Visibility: As I found, raising your visibility is an important way to let others see what you do at work, how you contribute and have an impact. Try volunteering for projects. It gets you noticed and helps you stand out if you are seen to be co-operative and willing to go the extra mile. It also gives you an opportunity to showcase what you are good at and makes it more likely someone will come to you first to get involved in something else in the future.
- Use your voice more: If you want a promotion, or even some experience in a different department at the same level, ask for it. Unless you express interest, the people who can make it happen may assume you are happy where you are and that you do not want to develop and learn. Think about how you come across at meetings. Do you keep quiet because you are not sure anyone is interested in what you have to say or do you lack confidence to speak? Try thinking instead that your point may be the perfect solution to a challenge, or your question may be exactly the right one to break through a problem. Whether you are confident about speaking out in meetings or not, ensure that what you have to say adds value. A thoughtful reflection or incisive question will have much more impact than repeating what someone else has already said.
- Look for what’s missing: Many job descriptions remain much the same over time. New people join but the tasks of the job do not change. Nevertheless, you can have a bigger impact in your current role by looking at what is not being done that could make it more efficient and improve the output of the team. Do an analysis of your role. You may realise there are ways you can streamline your tasks which would free up your time to start doing something new which could have a significant impact.
- Expand your internal network: Some organisations actively encourage their staff to get to know colleagues in areas outside their own. It is a great way to learn about the organisation and any potential crossovers or links that can increase collaboration and communication between departments and different parts of the business. If your company is like this, you can quickly create more impact by connecting in this way. Even if your organisation has less of an internal networking culture, you can still find opportunities for sharing knowledge by being curious. Think about a part of the business you are not so familiar with. Find out who would be the best person to speak to and invite them for a coffee, even if it is virtual. Ask them about what they do and if there is any help they need from you and your team. Show that you are a good listener too. This is a great way to raise your profile and make you stand out.
- Track your progress: As you begin to try some of these approaches, keep a record of what you are doing, what the outcome has been and how you felt about it. You will soon see a pattern of what works for you and what is effective. It will keep you motivated to keep going. Get feedback from one or two trusted colleagues to see what they are noticing that is different. It is also a reminder to you of what you have achieved and an opportunity to inform others when you have your annual reviews or go for a job interview.
Actively choosing to show up in some of these ways will help you to have impact, add value and be recognised for your contribution. It takes practice being bold but small steps can make a big difference. It is up to you!
About the author
Annabel Harper is an Executive Leadership Coach and Facilitator with a deep interest in the development of women in leadership in the Middle East. She is also the author of Shujaa’ah, Bold Leadership for Women of the Middle East (Panoma Press) . Annabel has international experience in a variety of multi- cultural global organisations. Client sectors include FMCG, financial and professional services, pharma, broadcasting, government entities and business schools. Annabel also has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from King’s College, London.