Overlooked – Feeling Invisible at Work

by | Oct 31, 2023 | Personal Growth, Professional Growth

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Feeling unappreciated at work? You are not alone.

According to a survey conducted by One Poll, almost 50% of American workers left their job because they felt unappreciated. At the same time, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they feel unappreciated by their employer, while 59% say they’ve never had a manager truly appreciate their work.

To overlook someone can be unintentional, such as simply forgetting to mention their name when recognizing a group of people. We apologize for the mistake, and most people are forgiving. When the underappreciation moves to a higher level, from a single experience to a pattern, trouble is in the air.

Where does responsibility for underappreciation reside? Certainly, with some of our managers, for failing to recognize and connect with their people. Being overlooked also resides with us. To be visible you need to be at your personal best. Sometimes we can get complacent and comfortable, and not attract the attention we need for professional growth.

Early in my leadership experience I observed front-line employees often being overlooked, even taken for granted. A good example is front-line workers who get frustrated when changes are introduced, without their voice or anticipating the impact on their roles.

The truth is we overlook people at all levels of the organization — including leaders.

I was recently visiting with a senior leader who is feeling unappreciated. The pay is good, the work is challenging, and yet he wonders if he is valued. I have had the same experience, watching my peers get recognized or promoted, and wondering what about me. Was I feeling sorry for myself? Perhaps. What I was feeling was a sense of neglect.

Warning signs of feeling devalued:

  • You feel invisible in meetings because no one takes your opinion seriously.
  • You are the go-to person for work, but not for assignments that will get you recognized or promoted.
  • You have limited autonomy.

Three keys to avoid feeling overlooked at work:

  • Praise the work of others and your work will get greater recognition. The reality of give and take at work – if you give you will receive.
  • Consider your expectations for gratitude and attention — are they realistic? Leaders are expected to be self-motivated and not dependent on their supervisor.
  • Build your visibility by diplomatically tooting your horn — not blowing it. Catalog your wins and make sure you supervisor is aware of your success.

You may at times feel invisible, but you are not. Being overlooked is not enjoyable, but also not a curse. Build your visibility through credibility, reliability, and championing others. There may be no letter “I” in team — there are five in invisibility. It is up to us to earn a spot where the light shines brightly.

Leading Your Team

An excellent article on keeping a positive mindset when things are not going your way.

Keeping Your Spirits Up When You Really Need a Win

Read to Lead

Leaders benefit from being active readers, long reads not just social media posts and news feeds. A deep read builds concentration, strengthens your intellectual capacity, and offers wisdom you can share. As you refresh or build your reading habit, diversify your experience — old, new, fiction, non-fiction, audio, hard cover, and e-readers.

My October 2023 favorites:

Days of Grace by Arthur Ashe
A classic autobiography from one of my personal heroes, Arthur Ashe. Ashe was a tennis champion, civil rights activist, and great humanitarian. I wrote a newsletter featuring him in 2019 and read his autobiography again this past month.

As the world continues to struggle through political division, racial tension, and leadership failures Ashe has wisdom we can all benefit from.

Home Team by Dave Kindred
The book features the Lady Potters, a women’s high school basketball team in Morton, Illinois. I have a business client in Morton and never realized the powerful story of their local team. The author is a veteran journalist who covered major sporting events around the world and was surprised to find his greatest joy later in life was reporting in a small town. The book features basketball yet the real message is the power of community and teamwork.