One day, during training that I was attending, the instructor asked us: ‘’what do you think is the most important factor for career development and progress within an organization?’’. And he gave us three options:
- Performance (of course it does not need a definition)
- Image (Your picture and how you look like in front of the others, and how the people think of you. In 3 short words: ‘’Your brand’’)
- Exposure (How much you are exposed and known to others within & outside the organization, and especially the real decision makers)
And he asked every one of us to grab a pen and a paper and to write our opinions as a percentage split between these options. (Ex: 50% Performance, 30% Image, and 20% Exposure or something).
When we finished, he added the scores together to create the average sum, and then he showed us the results of our estimations as follows:
- 45% based on Performance
- 35% based on Exposure
- 20% based on Image
However, he indicated that these were almost the typical results that he used to get whenever he held this training with any group. But he also indicated that our estimations and numbers are not correct or in other words, does not reflect what is happening in real life!!
According to Harvey Coleman, the President of Coleman Management Consultants, and for the last thirty-five years consulted with many of the Fortune 100 Corporations, the real numbers are different. In his book ‘’Empowering yourself: the organizations game revealed’’, the actual numbers are as follows:
- 60% based on Exposure
- 30% based on Image
- 10% based on Performance!!
When we saw these results, we were shocked. In the end, who can ever think that 10% only of your career progress is due to your performance!!
When was the last time you cared about networking with others outside your team and department? Do you care about your image and how people perceive you or not?
To make it easier for you to visualize what I am talking about, let us look at it from the other way around. When the management of a company are gathered together to make some decisions about the company’s future such as succession planning, and whenever somebody of the management nominates a name of a candidate, the other managers will always ask themselves some questions such as:
- Do I know this person personally?
- Do I know what he has done or accomplished?
- Do I know which skill set does he has such as presentation skills, leadership..etc.?
- Have I heard others talk about him?
- Is this candidate visible within the organization?
And if the answer for most of the above questions is ‘’No’’, then most probably you know already how this will affect this candidate’s career progress or in other words ‘’nomination’’.
Do not interpret my words here wrong. I am not saying that you have to be lazy or to stop working smartly hard. All that I mean is if you are an ambitious person, and willing to climb the career ladder, and you thought that this could only be done through your performance, then you have to rethink your strategy and to focus as well on your ‘’Exposure’’ and your ‘’Image’’.
So let me ask you, what are the first steps that you can take today to improve your exposure and image within your organization as well as outside?