Attention working parents – working ‘hard’ only gets you 10% of the way to career success!

In 1996 (can this really be 10 years ago?!), Harvey Coleman wrote a book called ‘Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed’.  Although a decade old now, his messages around the impact of ‘working hard’ – or performing versus working on your image and visibility are still very much apparent – especially to a working parent who has spent months away from the workplace.

Coleman’s PIE Model is broken into 3 areas, which have an impact on your career prospects and success.  They are:

Performance – your daily tasks, results and achievements

Image – what others think of you; what your personal brand is; what you are known for

Exposure – who knows about you and your results and impact?  Do those with influence know who you are and what you achieve?

The striking thing about the model is the breakdown of how important each element is to your future progression:


The challenges for the typical working parent, who has potentially been away from work for up to a year; are manifold.  It can take weeks, if not months, to re-establish your level of performance.  How dis-heartening, then, to be informed that when we finally do get back up to speed, we are only 10% there in terms of our promotional prospects.  Many parents are happy in the shorter-term to focus their efforts on getting their performance just right.

However, for those parents who wish to progress and be promoted, there is a stark realisation that getting your head down and ‘working hard’ is not enough.

Working on image management and then networking so that you and your performance get exposure (noticed by the right people at the right time) – is crucial.

As HR Professionals, do we a) recognise the need to support our employees at this time?; do we b) give them the opportunities and support to build their image management and networking skills?

As parents, where to start?  Getting the basics right when you first return from leave is essential:

  • Are you 100% clear what your objectives are?
  • What does excellent performance look like in your role?
  • What is your personal brand? What do you want people to think about you?  What do people think about you?
  • Who knows you have returned from leave and what you will be doing?


Share this story

Sign up for industry updates