Career Advice

Don’t Be An Undercover Employee

In the CBS TV show “Undercover Boss,” I am amazed any corporate PR person or Board Director would allow their CEO to be highlighted. When you get down under it all, the only reason this show works is that the CEO, the corporate communication department and the HR team have done a terrible job at connecting the CEO, his/her vision, personality and message throughout the whole organization.

I am sure there are plenty of rationalizations like, “we are really big and we have really high turnover,” that will be used to refute my argument, but this is 2010. We have websites, videos, live streaming, and on and on to ensure every employee gets oriented, knows what the CEO looks like and what is his/her vision and direction for the company. It surprises me CEO’s go on this show without kicking and screaming, but they do. (If I was an investment analyst these would not be companies where I would be focusing my investment).

Now that I have that out my system, I want to offer up some advice to those who desire to move up in the organization.

Being an undercover employee, from CEO to customer support representative, is not a good thing for career management.  An undercover employee is someone who isn’t known by others and just goes about their work with the assumption that they are known by others.  But it doesn’t always work that way and finding yourself as unknown doesn’t help your career.

Here are a few things to do to help advance your career and help you to not end up being an undercover employee:

  • Make your boss your advocate. Your boss is your best PR person.  If she/he loves you then you will get exposed to other managers and your bosses’ manager. Exceed their expectations and they will sing your praises and the word will get out. A ‘She is great!’ from your boss goes a long way.

  • Have your peers love you. Being a great team member gets the word around for you.  If your peers love you, they will tell others how good it is to work with you. And, as they move around the company, and move up, they will want to take you with them.

  • Be a well-known company volunteer. Be the person that when others don’t want to go the extra-mile and take on a little more, you become known as the person who will volunteer to do more.

  • Just be “good”. There are a number of meanings to ‘good’: be good at what you do, be good to others, be good at sharing and be good at communicating. Those that are good get recognized, whether they want to be or not.  Being good goes a long, long way and maybe takes you’re the furthest of all.