How much consideration do you give PIE for career success?

by | Oct 23, 2017

Improve your PIE for career success

I don't mean the tasty kind of PIE. I'm talking about the kind of PIE  for career success that is really important to keep in mind when thinking about your career progression.

In 1996, Harvey J. Coleman in his book Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed  explored the impact of PIE for career success. Simply put, his work looks at three key elements that contribute to people progressing in their careers. He explains these three elements as:

  1. Performance – how good you are at your job and how good the results are of what you do.
  2. Image – is about you and how you are perceived. The term ‘personal brand’ was first used at this time.
  3. Exposure – is all about how well people know about what you do i.e. not just your boss but your boss’s boss and the leaders and partners of other departments.

As you will have heard me say before, there is so much focus on technical skills and knowledge as we progress through education and indeed as we enter our first roles. However, as we move through our careers, those skills are expected and it is about what else we can offer. This is particularly the case as there are fewer senior level jobs.

PIE for Career success


Coleman asserts that actually just 10% of career success is down to performance. Yes, you read that right just 10%. This might sound very low but imagine the situation where there are several people going for promotion. They will have all been through interviewing to get the role in the first place. They will all have held onto their roles by proving their technical capabilities within the team. Therefore, that box is pretty much ticked. So when the committee that decides who gets promoted sits down, they will assume the people being suggested perform well in their roles. This brings us onto the other 90%.

Discover what image you are projecting with our FREE Executive Presence Self-Assesment

Exposure and Image

In this model, a gigantic 60% of career success is based upon the exposure element. So when the committee hears your name being put forward, the individuals will search their minds for what they know about you, if anything. If they know nothing about you i.e. they have had no exposure to you then your chances of promotion are likely to be slim, your best outcome is probably a pay rise for the good performance. Assuming they have had some exposure to you then this links into the final 30%, which is image – what has been their perception when they interacted with you? Do they perceive you can take the next step up and do well? What is their experience of you interacting with others?

Every model can and should be subject to scrutiny but even if you were to modify this data a bit, the message is still the same. Performance is a box ticker for career success; exposure and image are the ones that make the real difference. If you are happy just getting a decent pay rise each year then that is fine, IE will matter less and that is a very valid choice to make. However, if you want to progress then they are really important to consider.

PIE for Career Success

  • How much thought do you give to how well known you are around the company you work in? After all, you need to be known about before they know more about the work you do.
  • What would be the benefits of having a plan to improve your exposure in your company?
  • Can you think of the actions you might start to take?
  • Thinking about your image - what are others’ perceptions of you? If it’s negative or neutral, this is adversely going to affect your career success when important decisions such a promotion ones are made.
  • What benefits could knowing what to work on have on your image and career success?

Find out your strengths and identify your personal development needs by making the most of the 3Plus Career Coaching Programs


Joanna Gaudoin Contributor
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