Visibility in the virtual world: why we need to prevent our employees becoming invisible

 December 7, 2020

It is becoming all too easy in the current working environment to ‘opt out’.

Consider the number of virtual meetings, webinars and training or online events where you yourself have decided not to attend at the last minute.  We understand how it is becoming too tempting to stay on mute, turn your video off and retreat to the comfort of your home office or desk space.  It’s too easy to cut out the small talk at the beginning or end of meetings, crucial for relationship building and supporting others, in favour of getting straight into the agenda.

For many (and especially those who are naturally more introverted, or those returning from a period of leave), when confidence levels could be low and when we’ve been used to living a ‘hermit-style’ existence; socialising and ‘getting out there’ can become really daunting, and we think it’s going to get worse. 

There are long-term repercussions that inevitably will come with the daily choices our employees may well be making – choosing to remain under that radar will impact their confidence levels, their relationships, their mental health, and ultimately their career prospects.   

That’s why we have decided to run a ‘visibility week’ – to focus on and help draw attention to the long-term dangers to future career prospects if our employees don’t invest time in ensuring they remain accessible, visible and open to opportunities. 

As remote working stretches on for many, how do we maintain presence and profile with colleagues and clients, have conversations that spark new ideas or help us out of a rut and continue to develop our networks by meeting new people?
People Management, Andy Lopata

So how can we support our employees to get out there?

One way is to help people understand that working ‘hard’ only gets you 10% of the way to career success…let us explain:

Harvey Coleman’s book called ‘Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed’, contains the very powerful message around the difference between ‘working hard’ and performing versus working on your image and visibility.  This is particularly relevant to those employees who have spent the best part of a year away from the physical workplace, and even more relevant to those who have also gone through the parental-transition or experienced another huge life change.

You may wish to share Coleman’s PIE Model, which is broken into the 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:

Performance – 10%

Image – 30%

Exposure – 60%

The challenges that this present to many employees are manifold.  It can take weeks, if not months, to re-establish your basic level of performance when you’ve been out of the office for the long-term.  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. 

For those employees 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 therefore crucial. 

As HR Professionals, do we recognise the need to support our employees at this time?  Do we give them the opportunities and support to build their branding and image management skills?

Supporting employees and managers to get the basics right when they first return from leave is essential:

  • Are they 100% clear what their reintegration objectives are?
  • What does excellent performance look like in their role?
  • What is their personal brand?  What do they want to be known for and what are they actually known for?
  • Who knows they have returned from leave and what they will be working on?
  • Who knows that they are still passionate, determined and committed?

Further support

We offer a 1-hour lunch & learn webinar that gives employees the tools and tips they need to take control of their visibility.  We are particularly excited to be running this webinar for one of our clients in financial services this week.  If you would like to find out more about running something similar for your organisation, contact us:

This week’s blog is written by co-founder of Parent & Professional, Helen Letchfield.

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