Image Source- Fortune
In business your image, personal brand and reputation are of the utmost importance. These are the factors that people and potential clients take into account while forming a perception about you and/or your business.
Research has shown that some of the most favoured traits in a professional environment are, Trustworthiness, Humility and Capability. However, how do you get your employers or employees to perceive your image as someone with those traits? This is where an authentic, powerful and recognised personal branding system can help you build your image, personal brand and reputation and help you get to the next level in your career.
You already know about yourself, and you know how you want you to be perceived. However it’s rare that you will be given honest feedback. People who don’t know you well have little reason to share, and those who do may be wary of causing offence. That can leave you with a fuzzy and dis-jointed idea of how you are actually perceived.
Your reputation is a combination of what others think and feel about you, dependent on your work and how you interact with them based on experience. In addition, what they have heard about you – true or not.
Your reputation is essential because it ultimately determines if you are successful or unsuccessful.
As Professor Laura Morgan Roberts, from Harvard Business School, talks about how people you work with are constantly observing you and your behaviour and forming an image of you, which may or may not be what you want your image to be perceived as. This perceived image of yours is what builds or shatters your personal brand and reputation in the workplace.
Therefore, it is an intelligent move that you are aware of how you want to be perceived and what your personal brand should “look” like by actively evolving towards being your authentic self.
Your Image and Reputation at your workplace either can make or break your personal brand and vice-versa.
In today’s workplaces, it is essential that you have a unique, authentic and influential personal brand that can act as a springboard for success not only for you but also for the business you are working for. In order, for you to have an authentic personal brand, it is important that you are your true self, respectful towards others and act according to your own values demonstrating what you stand for.
No one likes a person who has no inputs of their own and says ‘Yes’ to anything and everything without having their own take on an issue.
Sometimes your image and reputation is information that can be easily accessed, for example, LinkedIn is a great networking site as it can lead employers to your profile search or even ask your work colleagues questions about you so they can potentially hire you.
Remember human resources professionals in this day and age will check social media references for the positives and negatives, both in writing, images and offline. Traditional reference checks are no longer the be-all-and-end-all of employee research.
Your image, personal brand and reputation in the workplace has great impact on your professional development. If you are up for a promotion, be prepared to have your reputation scrutinised. Hence, if you become successful in building a magnetic image, a powerful personal brand, and a credible reputation in your workplace, things like promotions look after themselves.
Ways to maintain your workplace image and reputation
- Offer opinions… respectfully
You have been hired because your company saw potential in you and your skills. So you know that your opinion will be valued. However, you must remember to give it with respect and tact. Always be aware that each organisation has its own politics (overt and covert), no matter what you think.
Ask management if they have considered doing something another way, and try to get to grips with company policy rather than coming in and flat out disparaging the status quo.
There are often very good reasons why things are done the way they are, but if not, you still want to tread gently, yet confidently at the same time – it’s a balancing act. You want to be seen as forward thinking, not to insult your boss or your new company. Nobody likes a know it all.
- Undertake something without being asked
One way to gain a good reputation is by showing initiative. Look around, not just for the projects that interest you, but for the tasks everyone else has decided to avoid.
It might be something small like computer updates that never get done because no one bothers to turn their computer off at the end of the day. It might be a database that is messy and woefully out of date, or an online presence that is disjointed and inadequate for today’s world.
Put in those extra miles and show that you’re not afraid of hard work or mundane tasks. Step up and get ahead.
If you are the boss and want to show appreciation for your employees, how about a surprise breakfast, or even a go home early day? Just to say thank you. It’s often the simple, unexpected things that your employees will remember, causing them to speak highly of you and therefore maintain work loyalty and also your work reputation.
- Earning respect before asking for any special requests
Sometimes life just gets in the way. If you have to ask to go home early or have an extra day off, the request will come across far better if you already have a good work reputation.
It’s best not to make this a regular thing, and you must earn these privileges. A smart boss knows when credit is due and certainly knows the difference between an honest employee and a serial sickie slacker.
- Remember it is business not personal
You can gain some amazing friends through work, but remember to start all relationships professionally.
We live in highly contradictory times. Work relationships have become more relaxed than in times gone by. At the same time everything is expected to be very ‘Politically Correct’ to the point that we know a situation is crazy however, we all just go along with it, pretending it’s okay in order that we don’t get targeted in negative ways.
Avoid getting carried away, especially if you are invited out for lunch or after work drinks. Don’t overindulge in alcohol or overshare. Some things are private for a reason because they always have a way of coming back to haunt you.
Now let’s look at ways you’re sabotaging your reputation- Perceptions Matter
- Only caring what the boss thinks
Yes, your boss matters, but remember that your colleagues matter too. You don’t want them to turn against you. Being labelled a snitch is not the best way to build your reputation. Being alienated doesn’t get you far either.
- Refusing to adapt
Employers try to match employees to their company culture as much as possible. It doesn’t always work out. For example, you might be comfortable sharing what you did over the weekend whilst your co-workers like to keep it professional – or vice-versa. Without even realising it, you could be damaging your reputation.
- Not saying much (or too much)
There’s a fine art to balancing saying just the right amount and saying more than necessary. The key is to learn to be able to contribute the right amount.
Avoid trying to steal the show, it’s about being able to listen as well. But if you say too little, some may think you have little to bring to the table. Be consistent.
- Small habits
When it comes to your image and reputation it’s the small things that count. Talking too much gossip over at a co-worker’s desk, telling them about the illicit substances you took at the weekend music festival, or just being away from your desk too much. People take notice, judge you and will never tell you that they are observing everything about you. If you don’t believe me, don’t you act similar?
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”- Warren Buffet
A lot of the time it’s the most subtle things that are holding you back from success.
Remember, image, personal brand and reputation are things that need to be carefully built, nurtured and maintained in order to grow. It is your most valuable asset, so it is in your best interests to make it the best it can be.
Let me know when this has proved true for you. I’d love to hear your thoughts!