Being Invisible at Work Can Cost You Big Time
You're doing a great job, right?
You deserve a big raise.
But beware! "The Maintenance Man Syndrome" can eat that raise-and even send you packing.
Sam gets let go
It cost Sam his job. He's a network administrator who did such great work that one day, one of the "bean counters" said to him, "We're paying you a lot of money to take care of the network. But the network works fine. Why do we need you?"
Of course, they soon found out why Sam was paid well, but too late for them-and for Sam. He became a victim of The Maintenance Man Syndrome.
I named the Maintenance Man Syndrome after a real maintenance man, a long-ago resume client. We struggled to find a way to distinguish him from every other maintenance man. But there were no statistics. No performance reviews. No compliments. No one said, "Wow! The office temperature is just right - again! The bathrooms are all immaculate-again!"
We finally concluded the best measure of his success was that he got no complaints. When he was doing really good work, he was invisible. No one knew who he was.
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Invisibility worked for Harry Potter, but...
But being invisible can be dangerous. People take you for granted. The don't know they need you. You become expendable.
To avoid winding up like Sam, don't rely on your supervisors to recognize your great work. When your performance review comes up, don't just expect the boss to give you credit for all you've done. After all, the boss has other concerns-like people who aren't doing such great work. The boss is putting out fires and maybe doesn't pay any attention to you because there are no pressing issues in your area.
Does Your Boss Even Know What You Do?
A special problem is that some bosses don't have a clue about what we actually do-especially those in technical positions. If you try to explain the issues, you get that blank stare and maybe a grunt.
So what do you do to protect your career?
Document! Keep a job journal to remind yourself about your great work. After all, months from now, you won't remember. Put in details of what issues you faced, what you did about them, and how you improved them.
When you have a performance review, put together a memo to summarize your contributions. Make sure they're in plain English. How did the company benefit? Did they make money? Did they save time? Did you protect their credibility? Did you give customers what they need fast? Did you soothe irate customers and prevent the loss of troubled accounts? [More on this in an upcoming newsletter].
No performance review at your company?
These days, a lot of companies have decided performance reviews are expensive time wasters. This means you have to take the initiative to bring your contributions to your boss on a regular basis. Make sure the boss knows you're a top-notch performer.
You've worked too hard to be careless and fall victim to the Maintenance Man Syndrome.