Of all the changes to the workplace that the pandemic brought, one hasn’t been talked about or written about very much. But it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been on remote (and now hybrid) team member’s minds. How can I stand out when the boss never sees me? How will this working arrangement impact my career? The answer is creating ethical visibility.
What is Ethical Visibility?
We introduced the idea of ethical visibility in our latest book, The Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere. We’ve learned more about the idea through observation and teaching about it since that introduction. Here is how we defined it in the book: ethical visibility is about making sure that your work is recognized in the context of the team’s work and results.
It is the answer to one of the questions least often asked by groups, yet when it is asked, or we bring it up, it is like a collective sigh is heard (even over Zoom). People do wonder how they will be seen, noticed, valued, and promoted when they aren’t in physical proximity to their boss and other higher level decision makers.
They want to be appreciated and promoted but don’t want to be seen as blowing their own horn – yet aren’t sure they will be noticed if they don’t.
While there is much I could write about this in terms of how we work, how we engage, and how we work each day, even if much of that work is done in our spare bedroom (or at the kitchen table), what people want to know first, is how do I create this ethical visibility with my boss?
How Can I Create it With My Boss?
You can be visible – noticed by your boss (and above) – by blowing your horn, documenting your every accomplishment, and cc’ing them on lots of emails. But being ethically visible, is something else, something bigger and deeper.
If you want your boss to notice you for the right reasons, start with these things.
- Recognize your responsibility. It isn’t your leader’s job to get you promoted or noticed. It is your responsibility to influence their perception of you in a positive way that leads them to the obvious conclusion that you are ready for the next opportunity.
- Ask yourself – and your boss – “How can I help? When you offer your help whether it is by making a suggestion in a meeting, volunteering for a project or assignment, or sharing what you have learned with others, you are helping. You notice (and appreciate) when others offer to help you, and your boss will notice too.
- Focus on being a great teammate. When you put your focus beyond your own accomplishments the team will more likely succeed, and your support of that success will be noticed.
- Take responsibility for your development. Don’t simply wait for your leader to suggest developmental training or provide you feedback. Be patient but persistent if asking for feedback, and suggestions to improve your skills and contributions.
Four Things to Remember
Creating ethical visibility isn’t just about your actions but starts with your mindset. These four ideas will give the perspective that will allow you to be seen in an ethnically visible way.
- It starts with your intent. If your intent is to simply be seen and noticed, and only want your achievements and skills noticed, this likely won’t work. Ethical visibility starts with the intention to be a valuable part of something larger than yourself. When your intention is to support and lift the team, you are far more likely to be noticed for the reasons you really wanted anyway.
- Be proactive and patient. Using this approach to begin seen, appreciated and perhaps promoted is a journey. Doing the things mentioned here are like a magical elixir that will create immediate results. Apply the ideas I’ve outlined but realize you are playing a long game. Being seen as impatient (“Where is my promotion?”) will actually be seen as the opposite of what you are working towards.
- Trust that helping others will help you. If you believe that statement, and act on it, you will likely be successful with ethical visibility. If you continue to focus on helping the team, individual teammates and your leader succeed, good things will happen for you – regardless of whether you work down the hall from the boss, or not.
- It ends with how others view your behavior. It starts with your positive intent to be helpful and ends with how other see your intention. They can see your behavior, not your intention, so think about and be proactive about how you share, when you share, and how you talk about your accomplishments. If you continue to focus on yourself as a part of the larger team, you will likely be headed in the right direction.
Ethical visibility is just one of many subjects on our minds as we navigate the future of work and the workplace. Want to stay abreast of the latest ideas, tools and approaches to succeed in a remote/hybrid workplace? If so, sign up for our Remote Work Newsletter. It will work and lead more effectively in this new world of work. Subscribe now for free!