Perform or perish – Part 2

 My Manager’s job

Many people feel it is best to let their work speak for itself. But is everyone ware of the scope and quality of your work. I know individuals who feel their job is to work and the manager’s job is to inform upper management about their performance. They place their hopes and trust in a manager being their advocate. It may be the manager’s job, but it is their career that is at stake. People would be astonished at the silence of their managers in meetings. Most managers have the credibility with their peers to be taken seriously. But some cower in situations when they should speak up for their people. You may not know how hard or if your manager is fighting for you. Ask for accounts of their conversations with their peers and superiors to feel more comfortable about their actions.

A manager must accurately state the case for his direct reports and must defend them against challenges from other managers who may share a different opinion. Many times the other manager may have data unknown to the current manager, especially around teaming issues.  Efforts should be made to ensure the information is recent and relevant. The manager must in essence fight for their people.  My point is that your manager may be your greatest advocate, but you must become personally involved in letting people know about your performance. If you won’t fight for your recognition and reputation, at least ensure that someone is out front, fighting for you. 

Networking

We have established that you have a role in promoting your performance. You have heard it said that it’s not what you do, but who you know. To state it more factually, it is not only what you do, but also, who you know. Internal and external networking is vital to create a database of advocates who may be instrumental in getting the word out about you. There are five steps to networking effectively. Social media is becoming an integral part of reaching out to potential advocates. LinkedIn and other sites are essential for getting your profile distributed and noticed. To disregard any of these steps may limit awareness of the impact of your performance. They are as follows:

Who do you know?

Who knows you?

What do they think of you?

What can they do for your?

What will they do for you?

Who do you know?

Today it is critical to know a wider range of people. Within your company it is important to know more people in order to gain additional perspectives, share your ideas and results. Do not limit your contacts to people at the higher levels of the organization. Nothing is more alienating than to brush by people whom you don’t feel have enough status to help you. You never know who can be helpful.  

 President of a small company had a decision to make between two women executives for a Vice President position. They were even in all of the objective parameters. The President asked the custodian about his impression of the two ladies, without stating his intention. The custodian said one was very standoffish, condescending and would almost throw the garbage can at him. There was no eye contact and she made him feel like a lower class citizen. The other person, he said was friendly, maintained eye contact and seemed concerned about him as a person. She made him feel good in her presence. This was the extra information the President needed to make his decision.  

Who knows you?

There are people in the company you want to know you. Your boss and his superior are good places to start. How do others know you? Have you initiated a conversation with them at Sales Meetings or other company functions? Sometimes we think a senior executive is too busy to talk to us and we ignore a chance to strike up a conversation with them. We may also worry that others will accuse us of sucking up to the big bosses. Disregard those thoughts and prepare and practice conversation starters for prominent and not so prominent people within your company. It is always good to know people from different departments and functions. Your paths may cross again some day when you can help each other. Be prepared. It is also acceptable to ask someone to introduce you to people you don’t know. Your boss would be an excellent person to make the introduction.

What do they think of you?

To know you is not necessarily to love you. I knew a young lady who knew the right people and they knew her, but they didn’t like her. She had no idea as she socialized with all the key people in the company. There is an expectation of professionalism and self awareness. If you have annoying habits such as being an incessant talker who never listens and constantly berates people, you may not have a favorable image. You want to ask around to determine if you have attributes that others would like you to change. You also have to be receptive, listen and make the changes. Thanking the person for their suggestion is also a sign of professionalism and good manners.

What can they do for you?

Some positions are obvious in what they could do for you. These individuals may be involved in calibration discussions or succession planning meaning. They may be able to add insight or their impression of you as a candidate for a promotion. As I mentioned earlier be nice for the sake of being nice, knowledgeable and professional. The rewards will come later.

What will they do for you?

This is usually resolved by their response to a request for action. The skillful use of a “close” when appropriate can work in your favor. Will they accept your phone calls or e-mail messages with questions, comments or ideas? Will they be your mentor? Will they provide you with advice or counsel on key business matters? Will they write a letter of recommendation for an internal job interview? The power of your relationship or their sincere desire to be instrumental in career will pay dividends for you. When the time is right do not be afraid to ask for the strong appropriate action from them.  People like to help people viewed as a person on the way up.

In today’s flatter organizations and leaner and meaner environments, we have to ensure that we accept the ultimatum to perform or perish. Our performance (true impact) should also resonate with key decision makers in the company. We must achieve our sales goals and exceed them where possible. Our clients must view us as indispensable. We should go the extra mile to ask your clients to write the company extolling your virtues and value to their offices. The market and our customers will pick the winners and losers and those who have not performed, will perish.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

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