Managing the Invisibles

A fascinating article in the May 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review highlights challenges encountered by the managers of so-called invisible employees, those who prefer to stay out of the limelight (who may indeed hate the limelight!) Sounds familiar? If so, here are some ideas:

  • Figure out who they are, especially if you personally enjoy the limelight. It may strike you as weird that someone does not like public recognition but rest assured that Invisibles think you are weird to seek it! They are motivated by excellence, not fame.
  • Reward them fairly. Invisibles may be quiet but they know what they are worth. Don’t just reward people who ask for raises.
  • Think about intrinsic rewards. Private work spaces, 20% time to work on their own projects, a minimum of administrative hassles are great for the Invisibles.
  • Think twice about Invisibles in overseas teams. Many countries frown on the self-promotion that is accepted, even encouraged in the US. Many overseas employees may function as Invisibles.

Do you have Invisibles on your team? What techniques have you used successfully to manage them? (Or perhaps you are an Invisible yourself. Do tell!)

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