MS RONNA Lichtenberg, author of Work Would Be Great If It Weren’t for The People, believes that one of the best ways to increase your visibility at work is to set your face time by your boss’s clock.
She says: “Years ago, I realised that my boss’s boss stayed late on Friday afternoons, waiting out the rush hour. Everyone else bailed out early, but I stayed. The big boss and I ended up having regular Friday chats.
“Over time, I got to share with him ideas he wouldn’t have had time to listen to during regular business hours. After a dozen Fridays, I got the resources I needed to put some of those ideas in place — including responsibility for another department.”
Human resource consultant Virginia Means shares a similar story.
“When I was just coming up in the business world, I met a very successful CEO of the hospital system I worked for. After he had observed some of my work, he asked me to take on several projects while the company opened some additional hospitals in the community.
“During this time, he really took me under his wing. For example, while working on the projects, I would sometimes get frustrated with situations — most often because people seemed to be dragging their feet on decisions and things weren’t moving fast enough for me. And I would often go to him for counsel.”
These counselling sessions most often occurred “before the roosters woke”, Ms Means says, “as we were both morning people. In fact, that seemed to be the time that he was most open to dialogue and giving advice. He was too busy with conference calls and meetings in the heat of the day and too exhausted after 6 o’clock.”
Another way to increase your visibility? Schmooze* in the office.
“Women are such dedicated, hard-working implementers that they work nose-to-the-grindstone without crossing the boundaries,” says Ms Jean Otte, founder and president of Women Unlimited Inc.
“This means they miss out on learning about other parts of the business or having those in other parts of the business know about their skills. As a result, women sometimes don’t understand the big picture the way the men do, because men take the time to make those strategic alliances.”
Many women also mistakenly believe that if they work hard, they’ll be rewarded, Ms Otte adds. “But they’re finding out that it’s not just what you know; it’s who you know. If you’re brilliant and no one knows, what good does it do?”
She shares the story of a senior-level vice president who was left without a job after a recent merger of two major corporations — despite the fact that she was one of the hardest working executives at the company.
The reason for her loss? “This woman stayed within her unit to such an extent that people from the rest of the company really didn’t know her,” says Ms Otte. “So, she was passed over for a job in the merged organization.”
The lesson here? Schmooze — or you could lose.
*Schmooze: To converse casually, especially to gain an advantage or make a social connection