When Your Leader Keeps You Hidden


All of us have been managed by someone at some point in our career. Many of us are managed today. We all report to someone or some entity no matter what level we are in an organization.

Also we all know what it means to do a good job but the recognition of that good job is only known by our immediate manager.

For some reason when the presentation was complete or the project was done, our name wasn’t on any of the slides or project contributor’s page. Our work and the associated recognition for our contribution had been hidden.

Now it doesn’t mean that your manager is/was acting with malice (well maybe/maybe not), but what it does mean is that who knows about you in the organization and ultimately your career often gets lost in the shuffle. You can especially have challenges if you have a manager who is not known to have a reputation or track record of developing talent in your organization. The ironic piece is that they are always good at getting the right people to get the work done.


As the saying goes, “Good talent is hard to find.”


But they seem to always find that good talent. How do they do it time and time again? Don’t know. But what is known is that it doesn’t help you with your professional development or career aspirations.


So what should you do if you have a manager that values your work and what you are able to do, but not necessarily an advocate for your development much less your career?


HAVE A NETWORKTHAT WORKS FOR YOU: People in your organization should always know who you are whether they are in your specific area, another group or function. Spend the time to develop your network before you need it to enable your career success. It has been shown to be a powerful career enhancer. Once you develop the right type of network, those in it will often come to you unsolicited. They start looking out for you before you may even need them.


KEEP YOU SKILLS CURRENT: It is important to ensure that your skills are up to date so that when you see other opportunities that are open you can position yourself to be ready. Ensure that you are viewed as one of the best candidates if not the best candidate. Also don’t forget to always learn new and different skills which will further position you favorably and give you the advantage.


LEARN TO LEVERAGE YOUR LEADER: Take the time to ask your leader to introduce you to people in your organization. This will give you the time to meet them and share who you are and what you do. They may not see your name on the project, but if they know what you do in your leader’s group, they will more than likely know that you were a part of the work in some shape or form.


JOIN PROFESSIONAL GROUPS: To become known in your organization, join one of the professional networks within your company. Seek projects that you can volunteer for that others in your company will see. Position yourself for others to see you contributing and in action. Don’t forget about external professional networks either. They can help others outside your organization know about you and your work as well.


SEEK A MENTOR, MORE IMPORTANTLY A SPONSOR: Mentors are great as they can give you sound advice. But finding someone who will put their career on the line and speak on your behalf is paramount. They are called sponsors. Having a relationship with someone of this nature can help you navigate, get noticed and supported.


TAKE TIME WITH YOUR DEVELOPMENT PLAN: We often take a lot of time with our goals and objectives. Our development often comes last if at all. Take just as much time with your development as your goals and objectives. Having the right development plan that includes the right work can pay off. Make sure that you and your manager agree to goals and objectives that will provide you visibility to others within your organization or involve you accomplishing goals that have to involve the work of others as partners with you.


OWN THE BUSINESS OF “YOU”: Select an area of expertise that you want to be known for in your organization. Make it your brand or your signature so that when something comes up in which the company needs your level of expertise or knowledge, you are automatically thought of and called upon. Over time this ensures that others know who you are and may request your assistance or leadership irrespective of your boss.


FINALLY, JUST HAVE THE CONVERSATION: Having the conversation with your manager may not be the easiest, whether their actions are intentional or unintentional. However both you and your leader owe each other to have that professional dialog. Sometimes it just takes bringing something to someone’s awareness or attention for a change to occur. Talk to your leader and let them know of your requests. Enlist them by asking for their help with your career which they should be doing anyway but maybe just need a little help from you.


Sometimes when you and even your leader are focused on getting the task or job done at hand, other things sometimes take a back seat. Make sure that one of those things is neither your professional development nor your career.


I am Francine Parham. My focus is professional and leadership development. I help individuals in the development of the critical skills they need in their careers to be successful in achieving their professional goals. I speak publically about the value of professional networks and networking as well as navigating through corporate cultures. I am also the creator of “Maximizing Your Network!”™, which instructs you on how to build, interact with and maintain your professional network. . Please connect with me at francineparham.com or attend one of my upcoming speaking events.

Leaving Your Job: Prepared?

Leaving Your Job: Prepared?

In today’s world both the employer and the employee are making decisions that don’t speak to longevity or stability. The median number of years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that a worker has been with his/her current employer is 4.6 years and even shorter by one year for workers between 25-35 years old. We live in an employment era in which individuals are not only changing jobs but often professions. Some of this is by choice of the individual and some not. Employers are also making decisions to reduce or change the makeup of their workforce as well. Sometimes this is driven by complex financial challenges or as simple as the industry evolving and the skills that were once needed are now obsolete. As a result, this leaving the need for a different type of skill or employee profile.

No surprise here – the employee/employer relationship has changed significantly. Also it is no surprise that this change is more than likely a reality forever. This is the new norm. No one is safe as some type of job change is inevitable for each of us at some juncture in our lives. What is surprising is that although many of us know this fact, we often do little to really prepare ourselves. This is whether we decide to voluntarily leave our current employer for another job because it isn’t as fulfilling; decide to start a brand new profession; embark on an exciting business venture; or the unexpected occurs and we lose our job.

Most people typically only think of the financial aspect when leaving or transitioning. Albeit super important, little is thought about how to successfully prepare and what one should be thinking about beforehand to make a better transition, either voluntarily or involuntarily. So beyond ensuring that you have enough funds to make it through the transition and having your bags packed headed to your new career or business destination, are there other things that you should consider? Skills you may need? Questions that you should be prepared to have answers to? Absolutely!

Ask yourself the following and check your answers to assess your preparedness:

Have I REALLY done the due diligence in the area that I am interested in pursuing? Many of us have a great idea or have a passion for something. Some of us would have pursued different career paths as well, if we are being truthful with ourselves. But passion is one thing, reality is another. Striving to have both is awesome! However, what you may want to do, does not always translate into a successful career or business opportunity. Make sure you truly know and understand the profession or area that you are going after or seeking to go into. Is the field already crowded? Do you have a niche idea or a “me too” one? What will it take for you to be known in that particular area? Are you prepared to endure the length of time that it may take to build a business? Know at a minimum what it will take and what you are willing to do to get there.

Have I taken the time to get the training that I need beforehand? You may be saying right now, “I barely have time to get my job done much less take any courses.” Well if you want to remain competitive or ensure you are competitive with others in your profession (especially if you are entering a new one), getting the appropriate training or as much as you can is essential.

Even just having exposure to what you want to do is important and you can get that by attending related courses or training. Also if what you are currently doing provides you with an opportunity to learn some of the skills that you may want to use later, then don’t miss out on that. Let it serve both you and your company.

How do I currently look to the external world? Don’t assume that you will be welcomed with open arms. Even though we no longer stay with companies for extended periods in our careers, it does not mean that it is easy to go from one job to the next or get the type of job that you really want. Often the skills that you exhibit or have practiced have worked well in your current organization. They are unique and valuable. Also over time, they have become tailor-made for both you and your company, but maybe not other companies. This is especially important if you are all of a sudden without a job. Ensuring that you have maintained the appropriate skills needed in your profession becomes critical in today’s world. Do a quick assessment to see what the market is requiring against your current skill set. If there’s a disconnect between the two, then you know what needs to happen. Obtain those needed skills as soon as possible.

Are the skills that I have actually transferable? Another twist to this is that your skills can be up-to-date in your current field or area of expertise. However, if those skills cannot be transferred to what you would like to pursue going forward you may have a few challenges. Additional training may be needed to enhance them. You may even need further or advanced education or a particular certification. Know what’s transferrable. Also know what you may need figuring out how to close that gap.

Do I have the RIGHT Network? Everyone has a network but is it the right one, is the question at hand. Waiting until you are in that new role or have declared yourself an entrepreneur for example, is often too late. Don’t assume that maintaining the same network you currently have will help you going forward. Although your old network may have good intentions, they may not be able to help you with your new venture or career. Their knowledge and background more than likely relates to your prior work. Join the networks and groups where the individuals are in your new area of interest. If you aspire to be that entrepreneur, then attend events where you have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs before you become one. Connect and learn from individuals that have similar interests and professions that you will need to network with later on and probably leverage. The sooner you begin establishing those connections, the better. Maybe there is something that you can help them with now to build that relationship.

Transition can be challenging, but knowing what to expect and being prepared can make it a little smoother. Be prepared no matter what the circumstance is.

Flickr Photo: Nicole Hanusek

I am Francine Parham. My focus is professional and leadership development. I help individuals in the development of the critical skills they need in their careers to be successful in achieving their professional goals. I speak publically about the value of professional networks and networking as well as navigating through corporate cultures. I am also the creator of a workshop named Maximizing Your Network™, which instructs you on how to build, interact with and maintain your professional network. Please connect with me at francineparham.com to attend one of my upcoming workshops or speaking events.

Getting the Development You Need To Really Succeed

As we return back to work starting a new year, we are laser focused on what needs to be achieved for the organization to meet the expectations of our shareholders, customers, or whomever we have accountability to. However, when it comes to our development or thinking about our career, that task often comes second or at the predesigned time that our company has carved out for such action. Then often when that designated times comes around, it is done hastily or with minimal focus because so much is now needed to be done in accomplishing the business goals and objectives we committed to early on.

Then overtime, the manner in which we go about hoping to achieve our career goals which is by being developed and being prepared for other roles or assignments often becomes mystical in nature because it never happens. Some of us actually lull ourselves into a false sense of belief that if we work hard or demonstrate our commitment to the work at hand or the organization (even exceeding in delivering on those company goals and objectives); we will be taken care of. Meaning that our respective companies, its leadership or more importantly our immediate manager will look out for us and provide the right developmental opportunities for us to grow in our career– not!

So, what does this really mean? What it means is that you are the only true advocate of your development which ties to your overall career success. You may have an awesome manager and a company that has robust systems and/or processes already in place. Others may care and have your best interest in mind and may even be looking out for you, but again ultimately your development and your career rest with you. So as you begin your new year now back to work, it is not only time to think about what needs to be accomplished for your organization but what needs to be accomplished for your development, ultimately your career and how you go about ensuring this.

Make your development not just a onetime event or something captured in a document stored in a corporate system, but something that is woven into everything that you do for you and your company. As you embark upon this task, think about the following:

What Gets Measured Gets Developed: Since you are setting your goals and objectives right now which involve committing to the organization what you will be accountable for at the end of the year, tie this directly into your development as well. Agree to a specific project or action in your goals and objectives that will afford you the opportunity to work on a specific developmental opportunity as well. Often we think about them separately when there is or can be a connection if you take the time to factor in both together. Don’t just wait until your company kicks off its official “development planning process or cycle” in which you have to officially declare what is important or that you need to focus on. Make your official goals and objectives your starting point. So if you have committed to completing a project by year-end that involves certain key stakeholders and you know that one aspect of your ongoing development is presenting to others, make sure that you include in your goals and objectives that you will be presenting those key individuals, say quarterly. Later on, restate this in your development plan too.

Don’t Wait for the Organization to Come to You. We often wait until that certain time of year when the organization gives us official permission to speak to our management about our development or career. That particular time is important because in many organizations such action wouldn’t occur if a dedicated time didn’t exist. However, you should make it a part of your on-going review and dialog with your manager as well as others in your company or network. This is no different than the goals objectives you have committed to accomplish for the organization this year. Many of us are comfortable with discussing how we are progressing against our goals and objectives in an on-going fashion such as our monthly updates or meetings. We need to have that same level of comfort with our development plans as well. Sometimes, only waiting for a specific time to have such a discussion doesn’t truly give you the time needed to implement any actions or allow you to course correct as you go throughout the year, if needed. Try at the end of your monthly meetings with your leader to specifically take 10-15 minutes to talk about your development or your career and what you both have committed to do against the progress made to date.

Development Doesn’t Mean Taking a Class. Often one of the easiest things for your company to do is to send you to day long course or sign you up for a week away at their corporate training and development center or at some university. This is not bad, but you need to ensure that it is preparing you for something beyond checking the box on your development plan. Obviously you should always learn as much as possible for your growth. But ensure that before you go you understand why you are going and what you can do with the skill when you return to prepare you for that next job opportunity or assignment. So, let’s say that your organization is going through a change and attending a course to help you navigate would probably be helpful. Ensure the class helps not only your organization but with your development and ultimately your career. Make sure you can come back and practice what you have learned, as well as apply it to future situations. If not the case, then really seek to understand why you are going in the first place – is your organization trying to tell you something? We all know about those types of courses.

Irrespective of any activity occurring in your organization, there is ALWAYS opportunity for your development. The key is being aware and always having your development as something that is not only top of mind for you, but others. Let others know that you view your development not as a onetime event, but on-going activity. If you make it a part of how you work for your company, it will pay off and you will send the message to those in your organization that you take your development seriously in everything that you do. You want them to do so as well.

Flickr Photo: Search Engine People Blog

I am Francine Parham. My focus is professional and leadership development. I help individuals in the development of the critical skills they need in their careers to be successful in achieving their professional goals. I speak publically about the value of professional networks and networking as well as navigating through corporate cultures. I am also the creator of a workshop named Maximizing Your Network™, which instructs you on how to build, interact with and maintain your professional network. Please connect with me at francineparham.com to attend one of my upcoming workshops or speaking events.