By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership
For some employees visibility comes naturally, they know everyone, people come to them for advice, and they are often chosen to lead projects. Others may choose to be less overt and keep themselves more in the background and don’t seek the spotlight. Whether this is because of personality or perhaps culture, or experiences they are currently having or have gone through in the past, everyone needs to be valued and recognised at work.
It is difficult to accurately measure employee visibility and its impact although thoughtful intentional data collection including 360-degree feedback is helpful. What is known is that employee visibility positively affects team cohesion, personal work identity, engagement and everyday interactions. There is a direct relationship between receiving acknowledgement, feeling involved, seen and valued, with our desire to contribute and embrace our job role and responsibilities. According to a study conducted in 2019 by Bonusly, 84% of highly engaged employees were recognized for their achievements at work compared to only 25% of actively disengaged employees.
So has working from home affected employee visibility?
The shift towards remote or hybrid working has inevitably altered our office working environment with many businesses having moved from face-to-face meetings, reviews and board meetings to online platforms. So do we need to go into the office for optimum visibility and if so how often, or can we work from home full-time and maintain the same level of visibility? Do we have to work a bit harder to be seen if we are working from home? The answer of course lies in the knowledge that actual visibility in the office is not a sign of productivity or engagement and quality employee visibility comes primarily from a good working culture and effective, empathetic team leaders. It is also worth noting that we are still adapting and getting used to the new ways of working so it might still be a case of watching this space.
How then, can companies ensure they are ‘seeing’ their employees without micromanaging them and how can workers improve their visibility with our new ways of working?
The Solutions for Successful Employee Visibility
Know why you are an asset. You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops but do ensure that you’re fulfilling personal development goals and actively seek opportunities that will enhance your visibility even if modestly. Offer up your skill set to help on different projects. Try and avoid becoming too comfortable and instead seek new challenges at work.
Find your voice. Speak up and respectfully share your opinion because different perspectives matter. Put yourself out there, stretch yourself a little and ask for exposure to work with decision-makers. Develop rapport by actively engaging on video calls and looking at body language and facial expressions for further clues. Equally, be aware of your own. Clearly this will be easier for some (most likely the extroverts) than others (the introverts) but learning comes with stretch.
Invest in work relationships. It is easy to neglect the relationships held with your colleagues or your boss so you can press on with your own work, but it is important to maintain open communication to ensure you’re moving in the right direction and in touch. It is also easy to become complacent with whom and what you know. Continue to network as much as you can, inside your place of work as well as with peers outside of work to stay relevant and up to date, and absorb new insight and find fresh inspiration to take back to work.
Put your best foot forward. Representing a team is a solid way of maintaining your visibility in the wider company. It also provides you with a responsibility to keep up to date with others’ roles and progress. Where appropriate ask to be involved in key decisions and conversations to demonstrate your knowledge expertise and willingness to contribute.
Recognise, reward and value. Acknowledge your employee’s strengths and hard work by showing them that you recognise their efforts and value the contributions that they have made to the business.
Provide opportunities to grow. Personal training and development plans give your employees a significant indication of the potential you believe they have. Keep a close eye out for leadership potential and emerging talent exposure. As well as noticing strengths, help colleagues to work on their weaknesses as part of their growth plans.
Trust your people. Trust is complicated but it is the firm belief in the reliability and truth of someone and the impact of it being eroded can be huge and often stems from a communication breakdown. Organisations with high levels of trust are associated with effective leadership, better collaboration, a strong shared sense of purpose and they highly value respect. Micro-managing is the opposite of trust.
Empower risk-taking. Employees who may feel detached may also feel more fearful of reaching beyond their comfort zone. Make it known to your workforce that you champion well-assessed risks and allow them to research and come up with new prospects.
Be available. Maintaining an open line of communication is vital. In the case of WFH employees, you may rarely be seeing colleagues in person so arranging regular online one-to-ones are an opportunity to provide support and check up on their general well-being rather than check their levels or productivity.
Remember that WFH has introduced new dynamics. As a manager be aware that a difference between visibility amongst your reports does itself indicate a difference in performance. You will have to compensate in your attitude and views for those who are less in situ in the office.