Last week I delivered a presentation to our Microsoft Legal Department Latinx employee community about strategies for remaining visible – and increasing your visibility – in the workplace despite working in a remote environment. As we all know not being physically in the workplace with our teammates can present unique challenges for us in getting noticed and to be “seen” by our management team. As many of us will continue to work virtually during the pandemic – and afterwards as many employers will move to a hybrid or a totally remote workplace – here’s a series of best practices to embrace to help increase your visibility at your employer while you work from home.
Be Visible and Memorable!
When I was a kid I used to read comic books and my favorite comic book series was about the Fantastic Four – four superheroes who each had unique strengths to help combat crime. One of the superheroes was the Invisible Woman AKA Sue Storm Richards who had the ability to render herself invisible when needed. The last thing that you want to be to your employer is “invisible” – especially during the Covid-19 era. In addition, you want to ensure that you are highly memorable to your employer, that you constantly leave a favorable impression and that you differentiate yourself from others.
Overcommunicate, Overcommunicate, Overcommunicate
As you work remotely, always be sure to constantly communicate – whether it be via email, Microsoft Teams posts, instant messages/chat, text, video, mobile phone, etc….with your teammates, your peers and your management team. Since you will not have opportunities to connect with them in-person our ability to stay in touch and to communicate clearly and consistently with each other is of paramount importance. Also don’t be shy in overcommunicating with others – especially to let them know about the matters you are engaged in and how you are driving positive impact.
Be a “Humblebrag”
Look for every opportunity to promote the positive impact that you are delivering for your clients to your management team. Don’t be afraid to “toot your horn” as we are often in the best position to describe our key achievements and we cannot rely on others to do so. When your clients or teammates express a positive experience or provide compliments in working with you be sure to proactively share those accolades with your manager.
Have High Quality 1:1s with Managers & Skip-Level Managers
While I recognize that we are all trying to be smarter about convening meetings, if you aren’t already doing so make sure that you have a standing 1:1 meeting with your manager at least once a month and that you have periodic 1:1 meetings with your skip-level manager – perhaps on a quarterly basis. Be sure to prepare for these meetings, provide a bulleted point list of agenda items in advance that you would like to cover, spend some time talking about your impact/achievements/value that you are delivering to your clients, seek feedback and ask how you can help them.
Schedule Virtual Coffees with Teammates
Think about opportunities to continue to network internally within your organization by scheduling virtual 1:1/coffee-type sessions with members of your organization that you may not know so well or to reconnect with teammates that you have not spoken to in a while. These sessions don’t need to be more than 30 minutes in length and use those opportunities to become better acquainted with your teammates, to learn about their careers and to seek career advice from them. Implementing this practice will serve to grow your network and visibility within your company and always end these discussions by asking if there’s anything that you can do to help them.
Create “Impact” Reports
Periodically provide your manager and senior clients with a short report that depicts the positive impact and value that you and your teams are delivering to your clients. As you develop this report focus on the impact that you are delivering – instead of a list of activities – that are aligned to the key objectives of your clients and your legal department. Also try to quantify the business impact of your primary accomplishments that drive positive impact for your employer.
Don’t Be Camera Shy
While participating on videoconference calls can be exhausting for all of us, when you have important discussions with your management team, business clients and teammates, turn your video on so that folks can see you. We are all familiar with the saying that “out of sight, out of mind” which is also applicable to Corporate America. Turning your video on during calls – or when it is your turn to speak during a large group call – enables you to look your teammate right in the eye by looking at and speaking directly to the camera on your device so that you can connect with them in a positive fashion and to demonstrate your attention on what they have to say to you. Also be thoughtful on how you appear on camera as well as your background – and use a pleasant virtual background if needed.
Speak Up and Be Heard
Look for more opportunities to speak and have your voice heard during virtual team meetings. For those of us that may be introverted and less likely to speak during in-person meetings, our virtual work environment may actually help drive greater inclusivity and participation from others. Even if you don’t speak up during these meetings consider contributing to the conservation through the virtual chat features of common videoconferencing and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc…
Proactively Share Your Knowledge
Making others better by sharing best practices, knowledge and lessons learned with your teammates is a great way to get noticed by your management team and to demonstrate your leadership and expertise. Nowadays as companies use leading collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack it is super easy for you to post and share your expertise on these tools which can also be seen by those within your management chain.
Keep Matter Management Tools Current
Often times lawyers are required to use tools that keep track of the matters they are working on (e.g., contracts/deals, litigation) so that their management teams have line of sight to such information at their fingertips. Make sure that you embrace operational excellence by constantly updating such tools to reflect the latest content for the matters that you are engaged in so that you share key knowledge and position yourself to receive the appropriate recognition from your management team.
Volunteer for More Work
If you have the capacity to take on additional work, consider raising your hand to your management team to let them know that you are open to taking on additional responsibilities. Expanding your work portfolio can make you more valuable to your organization and doing so can improve your visibility.
Giving presentations at internal team/all hands/town hall meetings are a great way to grow your visibility. Ask your manager or senior business clients whether there’s an opportunity for you to have time on the agenda at an upcoming meeting to present on a key topic where you have some expertise. There are also opportunities for you to deliver external presentations at the numerous legal conferences and continuing legal education events that are now held virtually and which no longer require you to travel to participate. As you prepare for your presentations please be sure to check out my earlier blog post.
Do Great Work
Of course, in order to get noticed by your senior leaders in a virtual world you also need to perform your job at a very high level by delivering high-impact and positive results in areas that are of importance to your senior leadership team.
Go Above and Beyond
Even if you perform your core job responsibilities at a high level, you will often need to go above and beyond your “day job” to gain visibility with your management team. Work with your manager and others to identify opportunities to participate in those activities that are not technically part of your routine day-to-day work at your company and which are aligned to the top of mind areas of your management team (e.g., diversity and inclusion initiatives, strategic projects, special cross-group committees).
Play Bigger than your Role
Look for opportunities to drive positive impact at your company that is beyond the basic expectations of your role. If you are an in-house lawyer view your position as the true General Counsel/Chief Legal Officer of the area or segment that you support. For instance, if you are the lead lawyer for an important business segment that is US-based for an international company, also help drive positive impact and value to your colleagues and teammates outside the US. Playing “bigger than your role” will help position you as a more valuable high-impact contributor and thought leader within your legal department.
Actively Use Social Media like LinkedIn
Leveraging LinkedIn as a social media tool can also enhance your brand at your employer. Be sure to connect via LinkedIn with your teammates at your company. Like, share and comment on the LinkedIn posts of your teammates. Look for opportunities to serve as an evangelist for your employer by consistently posting and sharing positive content on LinkedIn about your company. More tips on how to embrace LinkedIn can be found here.