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Thom Dennis

Serenity in Leadership Ltd


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Hiding in plain sight: Are you avoiding being seen at work?

Employers and employees can do more to make themselves seen and heard at work. Here are some tips to find your voice and stand out from the crowd.
Woman invisible and hiding by a rock illustration

Being visible, known and a leader comes naturally to many people in the workplace – they know everyone, are often chosen to head up projects and are the ones people go to for advice. Others choose to be (or are kept) in the background, or like a lower-key presence because of personality, culture or experience, but this might mean they are not valued or 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.

Do we have to work a bit harder to be seen if we are working from home?

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 recognised for their achievements at work compared to only 25% of actively disengaged employees. 

Has WFH affected how visible employees are? 

The shift towards remote or hybrid working has inevitably altered our office working environment. Many businesses have 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 can companies ensure they are ‘seeing’ their employees without micromanaging them and how can workers improve their visibility with our new ways of working?

How can employees resolve visibility?

Try and speak up and respectfully share your opinion

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. This will be easier for some (most likely the extroverts) than others (the introverts) but learning comes with stretch.

Truly believe in yourself

You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops but ensure that you’re fulfilling personal development goals and actively seek opportunities that will enhance your visibility, even modestly. Offer up your skill set to help on different projects. Try and avoid becoming too comfortable and instead seek new challenges at work.  

Acknowledge your employee’s strengths and hard work by showing them that you recognise their efforts and value their contributions to the business

Take the time to open doors to communication

It is easy to neglect the relationships held with your colleagues or your boss so you can press on with your 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 hand up

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.  

What can employers do to promote visibility?

Show your value by recognising and rewarding

Acknowledge your employee’s strengths and hard work by showing them that you recognise their efforts and value their contributions to the business. 

Enable growth opportunities

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, and helping colleagues to work on their weaknesses as part of their growth plans. 

Trust over doubting

Trust is complicated but 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, and a strong shared sense of purpose and they highly value respect. Micro-managing is the opposite of trust.

Encourage going beyond the comfort zone

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. 

Adjust your attitude and how you deal with those who are not working in the office regularly

Be there for your employees

Maintaining an open line of communication is vital. In the case of WFH employees, you may rarely see colleagues in person, so arranging regular online one-to-ones is an opportunity to provide support and check up on their general well-being rather than check their levels or productivity. 

Adjust to the new dynamics

Adjust your attitude and how you deal with those who are not working in the office regularly. Have a plan to ensure belonging.

Interested in this topic? Read Confidence is king when it comes to crowning successful leaders.

One Response

  1. The title of this article
    The title of this article caught my attention; more specifically, “Hiding in plain sight”. I think it’s easy for employees to be overlooked and ignored in numerous situations in the workplace. A common way is explored in the post – working from home. Since many employees work remotely, it is common for them to feel like they are not in the mix of things. It is important for team leaders and managers to be inclusive to all to ensure productivity and communication continues to increase. With this being said, these employees must also make an effort to be seen themselves. Not being in the physical workplace can make it easy for employees to get comfortable in their own space and learn to cope with being alone and not bothered as much. Critically, the post notes that an employee must trust in themself, and I fully support that statement. Once an individual shows promising trust internally, it is much easier to put themselves out there and assist their team in different capacities. On the other hand, managers can simply ensure their employees that they are there for them by keeping communication open and offering feedback when necessary. Once an employee knows that they can talk to someone higher than them regularly, results will reveal themselves eventually.

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