Business Coach: Work Hard and Get Noticed

(Originally published on Sunday, July 3, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

What is essential is invisible to the eye,” says the fox in the book, “The Little Prince,” written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Most of us know this is true, but in the business world what is unseen is considered nil. Unfortunately, many of us are white collar workers where output is mostly mental. In practice it is hard to put a value on something you cannot see, despite the best of intentions.

If you do not appear to be doing anything, expect to be penalized. Even if your manager is considerate, you cannot expect your boss to be a mind reader. The truth is that if your superior unconditionally allows behaviour that appears unproductive, then he/she will be in hot water for neglecting his duties. It may also be taken by his other subordinates as a signal that they, too, can be slackers.

You must realize that by appearing to do nothing, you will probably have a short career in the company. Not only will your boss be down your throat, but many of your co-workers will also think that you are just loafing. This problem is most acute in the case of graphic and layout designers because they often need some time to think of new concepts. This is also true in the case of marketing assistants, whose responsibilities include thinking of creative ways to promote the business.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating ways to make you look busy when you are just plain lazy. Although you can use some of my tips to cover-up your idleness, it will be just a matter of time before your lack of productivity catches up to you. But how do you avoid looking like a lazy good-for-nothing when you’re really hard at work thinking? Here are some practical tips:

• Look like you are thinking. When thinking, do not close your eyes. Even if you are deep in work-related thought, most people would think you are just sleeping. I have a friend who was very irritated to see her graphic artists close their eyes while dreaming up a concept.

• Use productivity tools whenever possible. Depending on your job, one of the best ways to see you are at work is to incorporate the use of a spread sheet or some other software tool in your routine. If your work deals with numbers, I suggest that you buy a book or take a short course on the MS Excel spread sheet. It does wonders for number crunching.

• Program your activities.  If possible, divide your tasks into separate groups and sandwich your thinking time between them. This way, you will not have a huge chunk of time wherein you appear to be doing nothing.

• Ask questions regarding your ideas. Not only will this technique let everybody know you are pondering a work-related concern, this will also bring fresh ideas and perspectives that you may not have considered. Another good effect of this is that you will have a better chance of getting support for your projects because of others’ contribution.

• Exceed standards by producing results. Brainstorming must bear abundant fruits. This is the only way that you can irrefutably proof that you are not running a scam. Take special care to document all the benefits that came from your efforts and make it the real score known to management.

Summing it up, the main idea here is to give better visibility to personal brainstorming activities that may be misconstrued as doing nothing. Realize that ignoring this is putting the blame on your boss for failing to notice what he cannot see. The worst thing is if you, the hard worker, is passed over for promotion by a crafty colleague who is in fact truly lazy!

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit or e-mail

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


Posted on September 1, 2011, in Business Agenda Classifieds Columns, BusinessCoach and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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