Finding Your Voice and Getting Noticed at Work
When I graduated from the Yale School of Management, I was selected for a leadership program in a company because the corporation had a big market in Asia. They had specifically hired my peers and me because they wanted Japanese employees who were educated in American business school to work at the US corporate headquarters.
The intention was that we would be trained the US headquarters way and return to Japan to become leaders of the Tokyo office.
I was excited about this program. I wanted to eventually go back to Japan, but I also wanted the work experience in the States and at the company headquarters, so it seemed like a perfect fit at the time.
However, not long after I was hired, the company merged. Through the merger, the Tokyo strategy fell away without any notice; there was no official announcement, but the program went silent after the big merger. I could tell that our program was no longer on HR’s list of priorities. I felt abandoned.
Major Shift in Priorities
The newly formed company no longer hired internationals. Instead, they opted for people with green cards or American citizenship... which told us that their international hiring strategy had completely changed. Suddenly, due to the merger, I was dropped from the leadership track and I found myself worrying that I was about to lose my job.
Previously, I wrote about how executives and high-ups in a company can discover and foster top talent in their current employees; now, I’m writing more from the perspective of an employee who feels undervalued or unnoticed for his or her contribution.
What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?
My feelings in this situation were a direct result of the way the company handled the employees during the merger. No one asked me what I wanted to do, how I wished to grow within the company or if I wanted to step onto another track.
The message I received was that the company was attempting to squeeze us out because they didn’t care about internationals any more; I felt I didn’t have a place because I didn’t look like the new leadership program profile. I began to perceive that my talent was wasted at this particular company, and eventually I became burned out and I left.
However, if you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you can take to make yourself more visible to the company and restore (or gain) status in the corporation.
- Talk to people higher up. Be proactive. Ask for time with not just your supervisor, but other people in the chain of command above you. Share how you feel and what specifically you want to do next; what do you want your career to look like within the company? Don’t be afraid to share what you want.
- Check back in. It may feel challenging not to take on an attitude of “I just don’t want to get fired.” Many employees, when they feel they’re not being recognized for their great work, begin to check out. Remember the great hopes you had when you took the job, and approach your work from a new perspective.
- Gather your courage. It’s common to shift into fear mode when you think there’s a chance you may lose your job. Instead, it’s vital that you really speak your voice and be honest about what you want. When you stay under the radar, no one will know how to guide or support you. You’ll have a much better chance of getting what you want if you give yourself a voice.
Are you struggling to find a voice within your corporate work?
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
President | Executive Coach
Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC
I’m an Executive Coach who works with high-achieving, experienced professionals from all over the world, I have the privilege of guiding my clients to consciously set and accomplish their goals. When many of my clients first come to me, they are overwhelmed and frustrated because they knew there was a level of greatness within them that they couldn’t quite tap into on their own. I also speak and train for top organizations on leadership, professional... Continue Reading
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