To get ahead, you've got to keep the spotlight on your projects and accomplishments. But how does an effective, ambitious manager walk that fine line between gaining visibility and appearing to be a shameless self-promoter?
The key in differentiating between the two is your intention: The best managers focus on departmental accomplishments, not themselves. How managers gain visibility makes all the difference between being seen as a limelight grabber or a positive contributor to the overarching goals of the organization. As a manager, your role is to advocate for your department; even the best work, unnoticed, won't lead to greater opportunity and growth. The following steps will help you take the initiative to gain greater visibility for your department's role in the overall functioning of your organization.
Contribute to the Core
Look for ways to contribute that lie at the core of the company's growth rather than the edge. All companies have hot projects and new directions. Stay aware of these and tie your work into one of these areas whenever possible. Don't wait to be drawn into these programs; propose a new way in which your department can be a contributor. Volunteer to serve on task forces or committees that are discussing new initiatives or problem areas, and make sure you are an active participant.
Talk Up Your Team
Take every opportunity to point out the good work of members of your staff. Focus on your staff's accomplishments -- not yourself. This speaks of the overall functioning of your department rather than any one superstar, while demonstrating your leadership and managerial talent.
Keep the Focus on Accomplishments
Let your department's work take center stage by describing successes and addressing problem areas. Be honest about the areas of both achievement and difficulty in your department. Indicate how people on your team are effectively handling problem areas with specific actions, articulating a well thought-out plan and timeline for turning these areas around. This balanced approach lends greater credibility to your positive statements while conveying that you are on top of all areas under your supervision.
Make Your Progress and Success Measurable
Set realistic, achievable goals that can be measured in ways that are easily communicated. Further, make sure you are measuring the aspects of your work that matter most to your organization. Give periodic progress reports that are balanced in their focus on successes in both high-functioning areas and the areas in need of improvement.
Compare Yourself to the Competition
Know where you stand in comparison to others in your industry. When describing your department's work, be prepared to cite examples of where you are ahead of the curve. Again, be as specific as possible without drowning people with statistics. This conveys that you are tuned into your industry and staying abreast of significant developments.
Knowing when and how to speak up provides the advocacy and direction your department needs to gain the resources and attention critical for its growth. Focusing on your role as advocate empowers you to bring the visibility critical to your success.