Have you noticed a change in the way we’re talking about ‘working from home’ now?
It seems to have settled into a new normal so quickly. All those early checklists about how to keep a structure in your day, co-work with your children at your kitchen table, and ignore distractions like the laundry pile – they’ve largely disappeared.
You’ve figured out how to use new technologies, you’ve got used to meeting your colleagues while secretly wearing pyjama bottoms, and you’re carving the groove of your new routines.
I guess it’s true – you are more adaptable than you gave yourself credit for.
But at some point, you’re going to face another major shift. And you need to be ready for it.
Some of you will return to your offices. And you will be anxious to know that your physical absence has not disadvantaged you.
Some of you may transition to a more permanent arrangement of working from home. And you will want to be sure that you are never ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
If presenteeism is (at last) dead, how do you make sure your contribution and value is properly visible and recognised?
OWNING YOUR OWN VISIBILITY
A few months ago, when we were still in our old ‘normal’, I was talking to a journalist about employee visibility, for a national feature she was writing. Drawing on my long experience of workplace communication, we were discussing who should be responsible for an employee being ‘seen’. Was it the individual’s responsibility to make sure their manager knows how they are performing, or is it down to the manager?
Honestly, I could argue for both sides of this – but here’s the bottom line for me.
If your results and career prospects depend on being seen and recognised* then why trust / wait for someone else to make that happen?
*They do, by the way.
There are some managers who seek out this information, of course – and kudos to them.
But, realistically, many of them don’t. They don’t think of it. They don’t know how to. They mean to, but it slips off their to-do list in their daily triage of tasks. And hey, if more and more people start working from home, those managers are going to find it even harder to stay in touch with what you’re doing.
So it’s really in your own interests to make it happen for yourself – but the art is to do this as a high-value exercise (and avoid simply sounding needy or faintly braggy).
So how do you maximise your own visibility, but professionally, with elegance and business benefit?
One simple solution is to formalise the way you report your results to your line manager. Don’t assume that many short phone calls about your work adds up to a whole picture. Fragmented information often stays that way.
But there are useful reports that create the visibility you need, and then there are those that get left in the inbox to die. Here are just three actionable tips to make your reporting really effective, and get you seen:
1. TALK THEIR LANGUAGE
Regular reporting to your boss makes good sense for you and the recognition it will achieve for you – but it makes even better sense to your line manager if it looks and sounds like what they need to hear.
So talk in their language. Focus on the hooks that interest them most, and use the language they use.
One way to do this well is simply to listen to them, and note the language they use and the pressures they talk about. Another is to put yourself in their shoes: what do they need to tell THEIR stakeholders about?
And think about how you present your report, too. Tailor it to your boss’ preference – perhaps an executive summary or a visual dashboard. Ask them what works best for them (this also builds their engagement with it).
2. MAKE YOUR BOSS LOOK GOOD TOO
Why not suggest that your manager does a similar update for their manager too? It will help keep them on the front foot with their own boss, and creates more value for your individual report.
This builds a collaborative culture too, in which everyone in the team has a safe and structured way to make sure their contribution is seen, even when they are not physically present.
3. REPORT WITH INTEGRITY
The best success comes not only from visibility but also from acting with integrity.
Always call out other people’s contributions and solutions. While so many people are working remotely from one another, these connections may not always be visible.
And there’s an added bonus here, just for you: you demonstrate your ability to teamwork, delegate or manage others even outside of the usual office structures.
As the seismic shift to remote working develops, we predict that the line manager’s role will change dramatically too – shifting right away from tasks and targets to culture and engagement. Keeping remote teams informed and motivated, involved and connected will become a full time job.
Until then, don’t wait. Make sure your light is shining brightly.
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Until next time, stay safe and well.
Lucy & Emma x