Do you feel like wallpaper when you go to work? Do you get stepped on, on a regular basis, because people just don’t notice you? Are you the only silent one at a meeting where everyone else is vocal – and nobody even knows that you haven’t spoken yet?! Well, there are ways to get noticed – and there are WAYS to get noticed.
One way to make sure everyone is aware of your existence is to dress loud: really loud. Bold checks; eye-glaring lip color; leather pants on Friday – you get the idea. Another way to get noticed is to talk to everyone like you’re talking to a person who is hard of hearing – loud and slow. But that’s not the kind of ‘noticed’ that we’re going to talk about here. We’re talking about positive attention that acts as a lubricant to your career, fast-tracking you into the echelons of senior management. We’re talking about ‘the-chairman-of-the-board-just-gave-me-a-pat-on-the-back-and-said-attaboy’ kind of ‘noticed.’ That’s the only way you want to be noticed. Here’s how:
There are essentially two ways in which this can be accomplished – by working hard or by working smart. Let’s take a look at how both of these ways can work for you.
Being helpful is one of the best ways to get ahead if you’re the ‘nice guy’ type. Pick a trainee or a new recruit and take it upon yourself to mentor them to a level of excellence that they can only dream of attaining to on their own. Challenge yourself to take the worst recruit in 10 years and turn him or her into the employee of the year within 2 years of joining the company. That’s the way to get noticed!
Another ‘hard work’ method is to learn. Yes, you’re not in school anymore, but learning can be one of your greatest career allies. Take an emerging trend or field of study within your scope of duties and become the subject matter expert (SME) on it. Drill through it and juice every last drop of information you can on the subject – and then present yourself as a self-made but authentic expert in that field. You are guaranteed to be noticed by your company leaders, especially if you can contribute to the company’s bottom line or give them an edge over the competition.
Yet another way in which you can ingratiate yourself with management is to take on tasks and jobs that nobody else wants. This is a sure way to success, especially if these are pet projects assigned by members of top management. Be careful that you don’t turn out to be the ‘offload scapegoat’ for unwanted projects that nobody cares about or won’t remember you for. And that brings us to the more nefarious methods of ingratiating yourself with the senior team. These are the real juicy bits of meat that you want sniff out and sink your teeth into. Read on.
The following methods come with a disclaimer: these methods are meant to support your hard work, not to augment them; do not think at any time that they are replacements for doing a good job at work – you will regret it!
That being said, working smart is, obviously, the smartest way up the corporate ladder. It’s not necessarily an unethical way to get ahead, but it certainly is a “non-straightforward” way. If you employ any of these methods, be warned that they could backfire at any time if you don’t support them with real work – not the kind that looks like work, but the kind that is work. You can only go so far faking it. These methods require sincerity and dedication just as much as hard work does – only in a different, “smarter” form. Let’s explore them.
The first way to ‘be seen’ is to attend any meeting where your senior management team members are sure to be, and make small talk with them. Never be too conspicuous, or they might see through you and assume – correctly, of course – that you’re kissing up to them. Just make sure they see you and that they know you work for them. Sly? Perhaps. Effective? Most certainly! Moving on…
Another way to get into the good books of those who control your purse-strings is the “empathy method”. Find a charitable organization close to their hearts and propose a plan to support the cause. Of course, you’ll have to be the one spearheading the event, or your thunder might be stolen from right under your nose! Make sure you pick one that fights for a neutral cause that is subscribed to by the majority of the senior team. Tread carefully on this ground because if you don’t, you’ll be caught out for sycophantic behavior! Well, you asked for it.
The third way to get the key to the executive washroom is to be heard at company gatherings. You might be an entry-level employee or even a trainee or a temp, but the right words spoken at the right time with the right sentiment behind them is a sure way to career success. Again, you know the saying about where fools go, so be sure that you know what you’re doing. You don’t want your “performance” to come off as being pompous and superior; you merely want to show them that you exist and that you are worthy of a better role in the grand scheme of the company.
Now that you’ve seen the many ways in which you can be noticed by the people who matter, you should be warned (again) of a few things. First, apply all the sincerity that you can muster to any technique that you choose to use. Without sincerity, all is lost. I mean, think about it: what assassin ever accepted an assignment thinking, “Well, let me give it a shot.” I’m pretty sure that no suicide bomber ever thought, “I hope this works – fingers crossed.” !!!. Nothing succeeds without conviction – good or bad; remember that.
The second thing you need to keep in mind is that things might not go your way. Even the best-laid plans have gone awry. Be ready to accept defeat and live to fight another day. If you can’t accept defeat, don’t battle in the first place.
The third consideration is your ethical barometer: if something stinks, then it must be rotten – unless it’s Vieux Boulogne cheese! You don’t have to depend on anyone else’s scale of moral behavior – yours is sufficient. “If it doesn’t seem right, just hang tight” – there’s your maxim for the day! Your opportunity will present itself sooner or later. Don’t push the issue past its breaking point.
Hopefully, with these tips at your disposal, you should be able to further your career in ways that you never imagined until now. Apply them as you see fit, and never regret your actions no matter how bad you stumble. Everything that happens is for your good. Remember that and you’ll soon be lunching with CEOs. As the master salesman Zig Ziglar often said: “See you at the top!”