In my research so far, I’ve found that “success” in an agency requires you to be visible. You have to be on a “visible” project that the company sees as important. You have to voice your opinion in meetings. You have to be seen at company events.
This confirms what Rosabeth Moss Kanter found in her classic work Men and Women of the Corporation. She argued (radically at the time) that women were not promoted as readily because they were not typically “visible” on high-profile projects, company events, and special task forces.
So how do you become visible?
- Time sheets: Strangely, I’m finding is that time sheets make you visible. Getting your overtime recorded makes you visible in the eventual accounting. This makes time sheets a political struggle, especially when the client hasn’t budgeted for all that overtime. If a worker does 50 hours, when the budget only called for 35, that extra 15 hours can be “buried” in non-billable time.
- Social events: Some respondents told me that the line between friends and work is so blurred that they don’t mind attending social events. Some other respondents told me that they do mind. Guess who is more visible? Social time is political too because not everyone gets invited to “casual drinks,” but the more you do, the better you look.
- Opinions: Most people told me that when people voice their opinion with poise, they get noticed. There is a fine line here, however, because you have to ensure that your opinion makes you popular. This confirms what I had explored in an earlier post