How to Get Noticed at Work for the Right Reasons
Would you like to get noticed by senior management? In a good way, of course.
The kind of “getting noticed” that leads to being considered for exciting projects, gaining greater respect from your colleagues, and having opportunities to move up to the next level at work.
These days, you have to go beyond the obvious to get noticed. It no longer works to rely on the quality of your work, your dedication or even being a “good citizen”. Frankly, all of that is expected.
The question is, what does it take to get noticed by senior management?
What It Takes to Get Noticed
The good news is you don’t have to jump up and down or be loud and flamboyant if that’s out of character.
Instead, it’s about doubling down on what’s in your character. Tapping into the true you, including the parts you keep hidden because you’re afraid what others might think. (Spoiler alert: these aspects that don’t conform to the norm may be exactly what gets you noticed…in the right way!)
3 Simple Ways to Show Who You Really Are
The even better news is there are some simple things you can do every day or every week to show who you really are.
What I like about these is they don’t take much effort. In fact, they’ll probably save you effort because you won’t need to “hide” or “shave off” parts of yourself, both of which take up energy.
1. What You Wear
Your clothing, hair, makeup and accessories are some of the easiest ways to show others who you really are. And yet, most of us dress in a way that conforms to the dress code of the office.
As they say, you have to look the part. The interesting thing is that beyond the formal dress code (as in “no T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, etc.”), there’s the even more powerful informal dress code.
For example, in investment banks, no one wears brown. It’s not written down anywhere, but it’s no brown shoes, no brown suits, no brown belts. I have no idea why that’s the case, but if you wear brown, it just shouts out, “you’re not one of us”.
One of my coaching clients discovered this only after buying a pair of handmade Italian shoes – you guessed it, they were brown – and getting grief from several colleagues the first day he wore them.
He decided to stop wearing the brown shoes (it was too big a “taboo” that distracted senior people from seeing his capabilities) and chose other ways to express his personality through his choice of yellow eyeglass frames and unconventional ties.
He has since become one of the most highly regarded directors at the firm and known for the creative angle he brings to solving even the most complex problems.
What you wear gives out messages about who you are and what you bring. So know where to show your personality in your clothing and accessory choices and know what’s going “too far” for others to be comfortable. I find the comfort zone for most organizations is to dress 10-20% different from others.
What does your choice of clothing say about you? And if you’re 100% conforming to the norm and not happy with it, what’s the 10-20% shift you could make to express yourself and help people notice you for who you really are?
2. What You Say
Another way to show your true self is in what you say and how you say it. When you speak, you’re expressing your thoughts, intentions, assumptions and beliefs.
The key is being aware of what you say and how you’re coming across. Then you can determine whether that’s an accurate representation of who you are and what you want to be noticed for.
One of my colleagues was a constant complainer. If it wasn’t about the company policies, it was about our boss or other colleagues, and the weather took its share of criticism as well. It turned out she was completely unaware of how she was coming across.
Once someone pointed out her complaining tendency, she told us what a tough time she was going through personally, caring for a family member who was ill and being the primary breadwinner for the family now that her husband had lost his job.
Once she was aware, she was able to change how she was speaking and that helped her get noticed in a much better way.
In your case, perhaps it’s speaking in a way that’s uplifting and positive. Or inspiring people around you to be their best. Or maybe you’re the person people come to for your calm, measured advice. Or perhaps you’re in your element when you help people brainstorm a new idea.
Get in touch with the words, phrases and tone of voice you tend to use, and what you say when you’re at your best. Then make conscious choices about how you can harness what comes naturally to you.
What do you tend to say and how do you say it? To what extent is your talk representing the most awesome aspects of you?
3. What You (Consistently) Do
Actions speak louder than words, so it’s only fitting that one of the ways to get the right people to notice you is through your actions.
Most of us are basically good people who mean well. But it’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget to think about others. That’s why the key to nailing “what you do” is being aware of opportunities where you can lend a hand or step in to help someone else.
It can be small things, like giving a quiet colleague a chance to speak up at a meeting by asking their opinion, and then supporting them by building on their point. Or publicly thanking your support team for their contributions to the event you’ve just hosted.
What you do is especially important in situations where it takes courage to step up and take action.
For example, the moment when basketball coach Maurice Cheeks came to the rescue of 13-year old Natalie Gilbert. Natalie forgot the words to the National Anthem she was performing in front of 20,000 fans at the start of one of the most important games of Cheeks’ career.
Cheeks was not a good singer, but he recognized a young girl being humiliated on stage and went to help. He walked up to her, gave her the next line, started singing along with her and inspired the entire stadium to sing together.
He was the only one out of 20,000 people who took action and you can be sure his management (and fans) noticed. As his boss said, “(T)hat’s who he is. He’s a guy that has high character. I’m lucky that I have him.”
Just remember that when you take action and put your true self out there, it only works if you do it without expecting something in return. You don’t want to make it transactional because people see right through that.
These kinds of “leadership moments” are what show your true character. And that’s worth noticing.
What can you do to be aware of opportunities to lend a hand and have the presence of mind to step up and act?
Get Noticed for the Real You
In a world where there’s not enough time to do everything we want to do, it’s helpful to focus on and leverage who you really are and what comes naturally to you.
To get noticed by senior management, the surest strategy is to double down on being yourself – your whole self, which is also your best self.
The beauty is it takes less effort and makes a bigger impact when you bring the real you to work. So let the true you show up in what you wear, what you say and what you do. That’s what gets you noticed for the right reasons.
What one simple thing can you do this week to show your true self?
Leave me a comment and let me know.
Facing personal challenges outside of work can be very difficult for teams. If I see a negative behavior the first thing I ask is everything ok? How are you doing? Usually then I find the rest of the story– life has intervened, Executives are not exempt from these issues either- but our employees should not have to be subject to our less than best selves.