Be Flexible, Not Invisible!

May 27, 2010 by Lynn Faughey

When working in my previous flexible roles, people have often said to me, “Wow, I didn’t realize that you don’t work full-time”.  I’d just sit back and smile and pride myself on the fact that I could be just as effective working my non-traditional schedule.

I’d love to share some of my “secrets” to making sure that I stayed visible, and therefore very successful in my flexible work arrangements.

Attend critical meetings in person:   Be selective about which meetings are important and where your input will be valued.  Ask the meeting organizer in advance who is attending in person and who will be calling in. If there are influential stakeholders or senior management decision makers planning to be present, make sure you attend in person and actively participate.  Don’t just show up and sit quietly in your chair.  You may as well have called in then if you don’t say a word.

Set up periodic one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders:  Outside of key meetings, building relationships with select people is important.  For your direct manager, this is a given that you should set up an official check-in meeting at least bi-weekly and ideally every week.  Attend this meeting in person.  But in addition to your direct manager, it’s important to actively set up periodic one-on-ones with other key stakeholders.  You can frame it in as a project update, or tell them that you need some advice/direction on something.

Actively participate in conference calls:  When you are on a conference call, participation is even more critical.  They can’t see you, so they won’t remember you!  But if you actively participate and provide valuable input, even virtually, you can make an impression.  Remember to identify yourself by name before providing input, especially on a call with many attendees. “This is Lynn. On that issue, I think we should … ”

Pro-actively issue status updates and thank you’s on key projects:  Just working hard on a project can only get you so far in terms of recognition.  It’s important to use written communication to improve your visibility.  If you are running a project (or a portion of a project), periodically issue a status update with some senior leaders on the copy list.  Make sure you get the OK from your direct manager first though.  Be concise with your update but clearly communicate key accomplishments of the team.  Don’t focus on “I” but give recognition to the team working with you to acknowledge the key milestones reached.  Remember to end your email by thanking the team for their efforts.

I hope that these simple tips are helpful.  Remember that being flexible doesn’t mean being invisible!  Don’t let yourself be the “forgotten stepchild” just because you didn’t make a little extra effort for people to notice you and your talents.

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