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The test question asked “What is your favourite film or book”. After twenty seconds of countdown on the screen, I had two minutes to give my answer to the video link with no other other human contact except an inverse picture of me.

This was my practice session for an autonomous video interview. It was part of a recruitment process for a leadership development training opportunity I was interested in.

The film which popped into my mind was “Hidden Figures”. For those not familiar with the film, it is about three African-American women who made a significant contribution to the NASA effort in America, and whose contribution at the time was largely unrecognised.

Worse still, the gender and racial segregation made performing in their roles much more difficult. This ranged from the practical, for example being required to use a segregated toilet block a long way away from where they worked, to the cultural, in not being expected to want to use their talents in senior or expert roles.

Here’s the question I got curious about.

Why did this film come up for me, and why did it resonate so much?

To me, we all hate being in these shoes.

Not to be recognised, acknowledged, seen.

And it’s worse still, when our organisational culture neither sees us or the problem. 

What can we do if we feel under-recognised at work?

Although collectively we have made progress, there is more work ahead.

Here are my top tips for you as an individual:

·         Develop an appropriate level of humility about your talents based on feedback and accurate assessment. Humility is not the same as under-statement. Talk about your contribution from here.

·         Ask your manager if s/he really believes that your talents and contribution are seen and called on appropriately, and if not, how can you work together to address this.

·         Remain (or become) assertive. That means recognising rights and responsibilities on both sides. This may be a long journey of many, tiny steps combining to make a change for both you and the organisation.

The other side of the coin – you as the leader:

What if you are the leader or manager at work. What can you do to become the change agent at work, just like the director of the Space Task Group did in Hidden Figures?

You could:

·         Take steps to become more aware of your own history and where you may have hidden bias or assumption about where talent may be.

·         Communicate with your team and ask for feedback – tell them you are open to your blind spots being made less blind.

·         Spend time with your people – to get to know them beyond the image or stereotype of who they may be to you and to find out how they would like to contribute.

What are your top tips for progress? Where are my blindspots? Do let me know!

These actions require courage both sides of the fence. Initially at least, small steps may feel risky and exposing. If coaching or training support would help you, your team or your organisation meet your goals for all talent being seen at work, get in touch.

Oh, and if you have an autonomous video interview coming up, or just curious about modern practices in recruitment, you can take a look at the practice test with provider Tazio here:

Gill is a National Training Award winner and Master Executive Coach who loves to help people in organisations achieve results from developing their leadership and professional skills. She is always interested in conversations about interim and associate work, where she can join an innovative team. Do get in touch to talk.

Gill enjoys working as part of a team both in the UK and internationally. Recent feedback includes:
“I was thrilled to be accepted on to the Women in Rail mentoring scheme and to be paired with Gill. My goal was to explore all aspects about securing promotion by the end of the year. My sessions with Gill have been thought provoking and challenging but underpinned with good humour and a positivity that I have really appreciated. Such great listening skills and inspiring ability to translate other’s words. The advice offered has been invaluable and gave me the much needed confidence boost to finally achieve my goal.”
Paula Zazzeroni
Business Change Manager / Network Rail

“I would recommend the SparkSync “Growing Your Leadership Edge” course to anybody who is in a leadership position, this would enable them evaluate the way they are leading and enable them consider the important aspects of improving their leadership and more importantly the way they relate to their workmates.”
Ernest Rubondo
Executive Director / Petroleum Authority of Uganda

Photo credit: SparkSync

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results


  • Joyce wanican says:

    Hi Gill,

    Many thanks for sharing these tips, indeed they opened my eyes to be more intentional to identify and develop staff talent.
    Keep sharing.

    Warmest regards,

    • Gill How says:

      HI Joyce, thank you for your kind words, very much appreciated. It was great to meet you on the SparkSync course in Kampala and also since! I am pleased the tips in the blog were useful to you. I hope all continues well for you and your leadership of Africhild. Gill

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