top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatthew Davies

Fray Bentos for Career Success

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Many moons ago, I had a boss that I did not get on with! That was pretty rare for me (despite what this blog may make you believe - there have been a small number of bosses I've not got on well with in my career, and I seem to be writing blogs about them all - probably because those situations are where the learnings and the best stories are!) and it made for a painful time!

The specific job I was doing at the time was probably the main reason that we didn't get on. I was in a role that was poorly suited to either my interests or my skills, and every day at work, I got to deploy only a tiny fraction of my capability and passion, carrying out work that was heavily bureaucratic and which oftentimes seemed pointless. I was not enthused by my work at all and I've got absolutely no doubt that this came across. I have THEE worst poker face in the world, and in the early part of my career, I suspect it was even worse, so to be fair to my old boss, I can't have been a whole barrel of laughs to manage!

As with many of my stories, however, much of this preamble is entirely extraneous to the point I'm trying to make! That is probably the trait of mine which winds my wife up the most - although it has has a few close competitors - so I'll get stuck into the useful bit now!

The boss used to use our 121 meetings to "subtly" influence me to 'find my happiness elsewhere' but in between his delicate suggestions to leave his department and get out of his hair, he did inadvertently teach me a few things which have stuck with me, one of which I'll share today.

When you're trying to get ahead, build your career, get a promotion, be noticed, earn a bonus or do many of the other things that people look to do to feel like they're progressing professionally, it's very common to make a plan. A PDP (personal development plan) or PGP (personal growth plan) are commonly written or refreshed in January, with all the writer intending to make this their year by nailing the actions on their plan and blowing their bosses minds.

And when you dig into these plans, it's pretty common to see that the vast majority of the actions on there, or in many cases ALL of the actions on there, are aimed at improving the individual's performance. Books to read, TED talks to watch, courses to go in, qualifications to gain, skilled peers to shadow. All classic PDP activities, focused on making the individual better at the nuts and bolts of their job.

So what's the problem? Well the problem is that (sadly) getting ahead, especially in a big organisation, is only partly a function of performance. In fact, if the model I'm about to share with you is to be believed, performance only counts for a small fraction of that success! So if you really want to achieve the things we spoke of above, it's imperative that you consider two others. And now, it's PIE time!

The PIE model

A model for career growth; performance, image, exposure
PIE Model

The PIE model splits your success into three component parts, and assigns a value to each.

  • 10% of your success will be determined by your Performance

  • 30% will be determined by your Image

  • 60% will be determined by your Exposure

The easiest way to think of these categories is to think of them as follows:

  • Performance is how well you do your job

  • Image is what people say about you when you're not in the room

  • Exposure is who actually knows who you are, when you're not in the room!

We know broadly how to get better at what we do. Practice, learn from others, find resources that help us expand our knowledge. Those kinds of things we do a lot of, and I'll expand a bit more on developing the Performance aspect in my next blog. But what about improving our image and our Exposure?

Well improving your Image really has four steps:

  1. Understand how you'd LIKE to be viewed

  2. Find out how you ARE viewed

  3. Identify the gaps

  4. Do something about them!

And as for Exposure? Why not break that down into a few steps too!

  1. Who knows who I am, and what do those people say about me?

  2. Who would I LIKE to know who I am and what'd I like them to say about me?

  3. Identify the gaps

  4. Do something about them!

I'll give this one further thought in a forthcoming blog too - today's is more a Slice of the Pie than the whole thing!

Are the numbers on the model important? In my view, no, they're not. I don't believe that it's necessary to build a plan where you perfectly apportion your time to activities in the 10/30/60 split of the model. What IS important, however, is giving each segment due consideration. In self development, it's very easy to dismiss important things, simply because you don't like doing them or because they don't come easily and will require effort and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

If you really want to push on with your career, and you've struggled with this in the past, it's time to think long and hard about these elements and do some difficult and uncomfortable things. Take a look at your PDP (and if you don't have one, now would be an excellent time to start putting one together!) and make sure that you've got things in there that will help move the dial on all three elements; Performance, Image and Exposure and let you do those things in a way that's authentic and genuine. Who knows, after you overcome the barriers to doing some of these new activities, you might find you like them!

473 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page