Visibility trap – beyond the chosen few…

Say, you are forming a team for a cross-functional project. Or you need to invite few additional members beyond the core team for a leadership meet, be it for exposure or seeking new ideas from larger team.

Often, we see the same names appearing again and again. What’s behind it? – I call it the Visibility Trap.

Here’s how the Visibility trap plays out: An employee catches our attention because he or she has done some good work or brought in a new insight or shown special talent. We suggest the name for the new cross functional project. The person contributes well, makes us proud… and gets visibility.

So, next time we have to propose a member – pop comes up the same name… and thus starts the cycle.. same people getting nominated for key projects / meetings / assignments again and again.

This runs a risk, both for employees and the leaders / organization:

  • Employees who fall outside the trap feel ignored. Over time, they will start looking for green pastures.
  • It’s not helpful even for employees who fall in the cycle. They tend to get pulled more and more into several projects / work – leading to untenable stretch and stress.
  • Finally, leaders and organization are left with fewer people with deeper and wider exposure / experience   

It’s human to fall into Visibility Trap – not to take chances when putting together a team for key project or an important task. It’s natural to include people whom we trust, who have contributed in the past.

It needs conscious effort to go beyond the obvious and continuously look for new people who can be included.  

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