Your time is precious. Your days are already packed with meetings, conference calls, overdue deliverables, and unanticipated interruptions. Working to raise your visibility in your organization and industry requires that you focus your precious time on specific activities and behaviors that help you produce results. Anyone can engage in a bevy of activities that keep them busy, yet you cannot afford that luxury. The investment of time and energy you make in your efforts to raise your visibility must be productive. What is the difference between keeping busy and being productive?
It is important to recognize that visibility and value are deeply symbiotic in your organization and industry. You already know that professional risks exist for busy business professionals who are invisible or undervalued in their organization. You do not want to be visible without providing value, and it is hard to demonstrate the value that you provide if you are invisible.
Research tells us that how we define something dictates the activities we subscribe to it. There is a famous example from the turn of the 19th century that illustrates this point. In an effort to change how the public perceived his company, the president of a railroad company declared, “We are not a train company – we are a transportation company!” Suddenly, by viewing his organization as a provider of transportation and not just an owner of trains, he created new customer perspectives and business opportunities.
In the Raise Your Visibility & Value model, “Value is when the outcome of a situation exceeds the cost incurred by a satisfactory margin.”
In our last post we addressed the meaning of “outcome of a situation.” Today, let’s discuss “cost.”
Leaders today need to show more empathy to their colleagues. When you demonstrate empathy, your ideas are more likely to be listened to and respected.
Doing what you do with a high degree of quantity and quality is an important part of a good reputation. Quantity and quality are similar to what you say and do in that quantity and quality need to be in balance. When quantity and quality are not in balance, the impact to your reputation is not positive, as described below:
- Low Quantity + Low Quality. Face it! If you produce a low quantity of work and the work you do produce is low quality, your days are numbered. Even the best attitude and behavior will not offset low quantity and poor quality. Your hopes of being chosen as Employee of the Quarter are slim.
- Low Quantity + High Quality. Good news! The work you are producing is of high quality. The bad news is that there is too little of it. It helps that you have a good attitude and that you demonstrate good behavior, yet this will only take you so far. If you could just grow your volume of work without diminishing quality, your dream of being chosen as Employee of the Quarter could become a reality.
- High Quantity + Low Quality. Congratulations! You have a great reputation as a work horse. You produce more work than all of your colleagues combined. Unfortunately, the quality of your work is so low it seems more like you are horsing around. Your hopes of being chosen as Employer of the Quarter will be met – just at another company.
- High Quantity + High Quality. Eureka! You are meeting or exceeding the expectations of those for whom you are producing work. Your quantity is where it should be and your work is of high quality. Your reputation in respect to the work that you produce is also high. The Employee of the Quarter plaque has already been engraved!
One thing about quality – it is in the eye of the beholder. In order to influence the “beholder,” there are some key behaviors that help ensure you distinguish yourself among your colleagues. Most of your colleagues would consider that quality exists when work is done with the highest degree of excellence. Consider the following behaviors to help you achieve a high degree of excellence:
- Set expectations. Be clear about the work that will be completed, how the work will be completed, and when the work will be completed.
- Be timely. Complete your work consistent with the expectations that have been set as to when the work would be complete.
- Communicate changes proactively. Update stakeholders as quickly as possible, when you identify a change in the expectations you have previously communicated.
- Reset expectations. If changes arise that impact your ability to meet the expectations you have previously communicated, reset the expectations.
Your reputation is built on a never ending series of choices that you make, every minute of every day. And in today’s transparent and frenetic organizations, your choices are seen by more of your colleagues, and faster, than ever before.
Today’s ever-changing organizations demand that you be in charge of your reputation. Every Facebook post you choose to generate, sound bite you choose to create, and decision you choose to make will potentially be seen or heard by thousands of colleagues in your organization and industry. Your choices are your reputation. In my work with my clients and during my career, I have observed that reputations are influenced by four areas – articulation, attitude, behavior, and production.
More about each influence coming soon.
There are certainly things you cannot choose. You can’t choose not to get multiple sclerosis. You can’t choose to win a million dollars in a lottery. You can’t choose someone to love you. However, if you were to list all of the experiences in your life and weigh each of them equally, you would find over 98% of your experiences result from a choice you made.
At first, you probably don’t feel that 98% of your activities were the result of a choice. This is because you do not realize how many choices you make every day, but by the time you have left your home each morning, you are a choice-making machine.
You make so many choices, you may not even realize that some things that you did today were a choice. Or you may believe that a decision you made today was not up to you. Many of my clients find themselves in a state commonly called “victim mode.” They believe that the outcome to a situation in which they had a voice was not up to them. When you are in “victim mode,” you abdicate your ability to make a choice. Whatever the reason, you believe that you did not have a choice when, in fact, you did.
So what, then, influences a reputation?