Have you ever felt invisible in the workplace? Feeling invisible can show up so many ways. It can look like not speaking up in meetings, or it can look like speaking up in meetings and no one taking your ideas or feedback seriously. It can feel like your work and what you bring to the table never gets recognized by your peers or leadership. Whichever way it shows up for you, it is a real thing. How do I know? I went through my own experience of feeling invisible.
My personal experience of feeling invisible was a low point in my career. The way it showed up for me was sitting quietly in meetings. I was a VP in my organization and I lost my voice, particularly in meetings. I started sitting in meetings quietly and not contributing. Somewhere along the way, I lost my confidence, and the behavior that was displayed from me was sitting quietly in meetings. After some time, that behavior had a negative consequence that resulted in my colleagues ignoring me since I never had anything of value to contribute in meetings. I was physically present in the room, but I was not engaged.
This two-part leadership series is for you if you have been feeling invisible in your career and you’ve been wondering how to shift from feeling invisible to influential. The tips that are shared are focused toward helping you make the shift. As a continuing healthcare education provider , making that shift and showing up as your true authentic self will have positive outcomes on you and your career and, most importantly, the way you show up for your colleagues and healthcare providers with a direct impact on project outcomes. Let’s get started.
Tip No. 1: Get Clarity on Your Values
We all live by a series of values that shows up in how we move in the world. Have you ever reflected upon which of your values are your top five values? These top five values are your strongest values in that if these five values were not being honored, you would not be OK.
One of my top five values is connection. What I realized (after the fact) was the behavior I was exhibiting in meetings by sitting quietly was violating one of my top five values. I was uncomfortable sitting in meetings quietly and would often beat myself up after meetings because I had something to contribute and I did not speak up. I didn’t understand why I felt so uncomfortable.
The exercise of getting clarity on your top five values can be challenging because you may have never prioritized your values. However, if you take the time and reflect on what’s really important to you, it will assist you in identifying those top five values.
If you can get clarity on your top five values and assess them against the invisible behavior(s), are you in alignment with your top values? Are you honoring or violating your top five values?
Tip No. 2: Build Credibility, Do Your Homework, Master Your Craft
What is your expertise? What is your zone of genius? What are you known for?
Before you can build credibility, you need to decide what you would like to be credible for. Once you decide, you can become strategic and intentional about developing your knowledge in that area (doing your homework). Building credibility also builds your confidence.
Early in my HR career, I was eager to learn as much as I could about the human resources field. I had a passion for the work and wanted to become credible in a specific area — complex employee relations cases. Once I identified that particular area of HR, it felt like all of the complex employee relations issues started coming my way (law of attraction). I gained some excellent experience and became the “go-to” person when it came to employee relations.
We often think of building credibility around gaining knowledge in a specialty area or a technical domain. However, credibility can also be built around other things. For example, you could be known for your writing skills, or you could be perceived as credible because you are dependable and follow through on tasks. Your character traits could also assist you with building your credibility, but the key is consistency.
What are you doing today to master your craft? Here are a few ideas:
Tip No. 3: Find a Way to Show Your Value
In the previous tip, we focused on building credibility and mastering our craft. There are times when we have credibility, but we don’t exhibit how we can add value. Before we can “show” our value, we have to understand what value we are offering or bringing to the table.
As an HR professional, it is imperative to show my value. If I did not show my value, managers may not involve me while they were trying to solve business issues where I could add value and make a difference. From an employee perspective, if I didn’t show my value, employees may not have trusted me to come to me with a problem if they didn’t think I could actually help them. Both of these scenarios could be detrimental to me as an HR professional. Showing your value can make a huge difference in shifting from invisible to influential.
Some professionals make a mistake thinking that showing value means you have to try and dim someone’s light so you can be seen. Every day, you have a unique opportunity to show your value to yourself and others, and it doesn’t involve waving your hands around and trying to get someone’s attention.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about “showing” your value.
- What is one “thing” that comes easy or natural to you? We often overlook the “thing” because it is easy for us; however, that “thing” is our superpower.
- How can you use your “superpower” to add value to your team, position or healthcare providers?
Reflect upon how you’ve shown your value in the workplace. Don’t take your superpower for granted, and ensure that you are strategically and intentionally using your superpower to add value to others.
My hope is these three tips will assist you on the journey of shifting from invisible to influential. The more we identify with what makes us unique and leverage it to our benefit, the more we will “show up” as our true authentic self. Enjoy the journey of self-discovery.