“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people to get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
Helping other people includes helping your boss get what she wants, the way she wants it. Being visible is about getting recognition, compared to merely doing the work.
The math is simple. Getting recognition = getting promoted/hired away. Merely doing the work. = getting more work to do while others take the credit.
Getting recognition doesn’t mean you have to become a chatterbox. You can become more visible by adding value to the complex flows of information, buried into the Tsunami of Emails at Work. It’s easier than it sounds.
Notice what information (the relevant and important parts) flowing through your computer and meetings. Look for ways you can add more value to that information…. usually by condensing it and serving with a dash of your expert opinion.
The way I’ve done this is to be the first to generate quick summaries of meetings, relevant conversations and presentations (given and attended.) You’ll generate more visibility and people will actually see you as knowing more than you actually do. It’s a guaranteed way to make you more visible without attending more meetings: add more value to the messages already out there.
You can be the one to find easy ways to cut back on the madness and misunderstandings: Reduce the word count, make it Relevant to the audience, Re-arrange the data and include your Ranked recommendations. Here’s the secret formula: Add Value using 4 Rs: Reduce, Relevant, Rearrange and Rank. You don’t have to look like Ken or Barbie or be connected to anyone to use this little-known communication tool.
How to add value to other people’s messages:
- The benefit from reading your message is in the subject line of your emails….0r the consequence of not reading it.
- Your briefings rank points or items from most to least important.
- You put yourself in your boss’ position and format and organize your reports so she can best leverage them. (Ask her if you’re not sure how to do this.)
- You look for ways to promote the strengths of your boss (and direct reports.)
- You take the initiative in communicating with your boss. Ask how you can make your messages more useful for him.
- Provide organized summaries of lengthy reports.
- Add “No response needed” to subject line, when that is the case.
- Use spell check!
Are you getting the idea? It’s not just reporting everything you’re supposed to, it’s inserting your analytical skill and communication savvy into each email, voice mail message and any sort of message or report. If you’re not sure how to do any of this, just ask a mentor or your boss (or email me,) what can I do to make X more valuable to you. X can be your emails or reports of any flavor…or a presentation?
Once the person recovers from the shock of hearing such a question, you might get some interesting feedback. (Note: it may help you if you pretend the recipient of your message doesn’t understand English that well. Given that people hardly read or listen these days, it’s not an outrageous stretch of imagination.)
Easy ways to add value to emails:
1) Core issue is in subject line.
2) Brief summary of issue. Insert a heading “brief summary of issue.” Trust me, you have to spell out what you’re about to say or write!
3) Offer action steps as you see them. Number them and keep ’em short.
4) Spell out your recommended response and briefly state why.
5) End with “If you agree, email with “yes” if not, please advise action step”… or something like that. Even when you pick up the phone to ask about something, using this format can help you get your point across faster.
Making it easier for others to respond will actually leave you more time for other things. If you look for ways to make your messaging easier to understand, faster to answer, you’re adding tremendous value. You’ll be seen as someone who “gets it” and who can “handle it” and your name will come up in those critical conversations.