I am currently working with a client who is only working with me, due to feedback from his boss; in fact it has been made clear he needs to work on his presence to progress in his company. This is always a more challenging proposition for me, as the person has not come to their own conclusion that they have elements to work on; however, I like a challenge.
When we first met, fundamentally my client didn’t really understand why he needed to work on these things, as we talked it became clear he thought his boss wanted him to become someone he wasn’t and that what she didn’t like could be deemed ‘cultural difference’.
As we worked together, looking at a recording of a previous presentation to give us a starting point, it became clear to me (as it often does) that a few small changes would make all the difference! This is a client who needs to be shown the difference, so by demonstrating the difference small changes make, he was able to assimilate them quickly and was willing to take them on board. His boss’s vague feedback of ‘you need to have more presence’ had not been helpful… as an aside, if you manage people, always try and be really specific with feedback, so someone knows what to consider. Whilst we might think we all know what presence is, it’s very possible that there can be very specific feedback relating to that. If you are the recipient of vague feedback, always push for specifics/examples, otherwise you can’t possibly consider or act on it.
During the session, my client said to me “So it’s not big changes I need to make then?”. To which of course my answer was “no”, sitting up straighter, stopping speaking when you need to look at notes, looking directly at people – none of these are big changes but they do require you to have self-awareness as to how you can improve (we can all improve but without specific feedback we don’t know what to work on, as only politicians and celebrities have cameras follow them round, so they can watch their behaviours!).
The other thing you need is someone to support you putting them into action and thirdly, commitment to change, as any change takes time, particularly behavioural change.
So, if you are feeling like you need to consider your presence (or have had feedback you need to) to progress in your career, avoid feeling daunted, it is likely to be only small changes that need to happen, small changes that will have a big impact. Remember that you need to fundamentally still be you, so you still feel yourself and perform to the best of your abilities, so any change needs to be with that in mind. Think of it as polishing who you are, rather than changing who you are.
As much as you may not like it, your personal impact and presence at work do matter and affect how you are perceived, how you feel and your progression. With increased seniority, as internal and client interaction in different scenarios increase, it gains even greater importance. If you want to work on your personal impact and presence, as well as your confidence, contact me for a conversation. I have helped many individuals progress in their careers.