The PVI model states that the most important things to focus on when looking to progress in the workplace are Perceptions, Visibility and Influence. By managing these three factors individuals and businesses can get ahead.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The PVI Model

The PVI model states that three factors that enable success and “getting ahead” in the workplace are:

  • How you are perceived (P),
  • How visible you are (V), and
  • Your ability to influence others (I)

The model states that these factors are effective not just for individuals looking to progress in the world of work, but that organizations can progress in their industries by focusing on them as well.

Perception

The way others perceive you is the first factor considered in the PVI model. The model argues that you should work to control how others perceive you, so that you are perceived in a favorable way. This concept is similar to that of personal branding, and both of these concepts have been heavily influenced by areas such as marketing and public relations.

How would you like others to perceive you?

To improve how you are perceived, consider following the below steps.

Step 1

Start by understanding the current state from your own perspective.

How do you think others perceive you? What perceptions do you think you create? Remember, people are watching everything that you do. How do you think it comes across?

Step 2

Next, validate the current state through external feedback.

Get feedback from others on how you are perceived. What is your reputation? What do people actually associate with you? How are you perceived across the different levels and functions of your organization? To really find this out you need to look for opportunities to receive genuine feedback, and truly value it when you get it.

Step 3

Is this how you’d like to be perceived?

Once you’ve understood the current state, you need to define the future state.

Before you can change the way that others perceive you, you need to decide how you’d like them to perceive you, what direction you’d like to move their perceptions in.

What are the character traits that are valued in your profession or that are desired in your organization? What blend of these might you want to incorporate into how you are perceived by others?

Step 4

Having understood the current state and desired future state, the last step of this process is to move from one to the other.

To do this you need to proactively shape other’s opinions of you. You need to act more in the way you want to be perceived, and to tell people that this is who you are. You need to express your values, share them and market yourself in line with how you would like to be perceived.

Visibility

Visibility is the second factor of the PVI model, and it’s all about increasing how aware others are of you. There are two main routes to doing this. The first is through self-promotion (reminding others that you are there), and the second is through becoming more visible (putting your self in the view of others).

You can tell the world about all the good things you do.

Promoting Yourself at Work

Promoting yourself at work can help you remain in the consciousness of others in your organization. The PVI model calls out three ways that you can do this. Firstly, you can tell the world about the positive impact that you make at work. Secondly, you can praise others at work (in the belief that they will return the favor). Thirdly, you can directly ask others to tell the world about all the good work you do (kind of like a PR agent would do if you paid them).

Becoming More Visible at Work

Becoming more visible at work may be a little harder. This approach to increasing visibility is all about putting yourself into situations where others are already looking, so that more people (or more senior people) will remain conscious of you. The model calls out four different ways to become more visible:

  1. Get assigned to important projects,
  2. Get face time with senior leaders,
  3. Share your ideas and use your voice, and
  4. Become known and recognized.

If you put yourself in highly visible places, others will notice you more

Familiarity Heuristics

As an aside, one of the cognitive biases that most people experience is known as the familiarity heuristic. We think it’s this heuristic that supports the benefit of visibility. The heuristic basically says that people will value a familiar object (or person) more than an unfamiliar one. To some extent this remains true no matter how much other information people have about the qualities of the object (or person).

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Influence

The last factor considered by the PVI model is influence. And all this is really saying is that you should use your visibility and how others perceive you as a route to influence. Specifically you should look:

  • To influence upwards by telling those more senior to you how you’ve helped to shape and deliver their goals,
  • Influence downwards by setting direction, empowering and creating followership, and
  • Influence on peers by developing rapport, collecting favors and generally supporting your peer group.

Learning More

To help you decide how you really want to be perceived in work consider learning more about personal values, motivation, self-awareness and character.

It’s also worth considering the importance of showing who we really are in work, including out vulnerability. These steps are all important if we want to gain trust or lead with authentic leadership.

You can learn more about this in our podcast on the topic below:

The World of Work Project View

This model aligns very much with the “personality ethic” school of development. It may help individuals progress at work, but it does so through manipulating the perceptions and decisions of others as opposed to helping individuals become better at what they actually do, or more valuable to the organizations they support.

Sometimes it’s good to show the world who we really are.

Individuals who get ahead based on PVI may also find themselves victims of the Peter Principle. They may be out of their depth, be ”found out” by their organizations, be seen as manipulative “game-players” by those around them and will probably not be trusted.

As a result, individuals who progress primarily through focusing on their perception, influence and visibility may not be happy in what they do and may not feel fulfilled. Part of the reason for this is that an element of Emotional Labor is required to to use the PVI approach, and this can become tiring after time.

Some aspect of PVI management is helpful, but in our view underlying contribution and ability combined with integrity is key for sustainable progression in any workplace.

As you might have guessed from what we’ve written, we think this is a pretty short sighted way to manage your career. Then again, it depends what you want to get out of life.

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This post is based on summaries of the original work by Joel Garfinkle as published in his book: “Getting Ahead”.

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