Reputation – Do you have one?

Building your professional reputation is literally something you have been doing one day at a time since you joined the workforce. You have also built your reputation one company at a time, one team at a time, and perhaps one project at a time, too. In other words, every company, every person with whom you work, and the projects to which you have contributed are all part of what combines to define your professional reputation.

How you handle yourself in each and every encounter is also a contributing factor that either adds to or subtracts from the value of your reputation. So, what happens if you have built a solid and positive reputation and you do or say something that has a negative impact? Is it possible to recover?

The answer is yes and no, and time, in many cases can work in your favor. Why?  Because most people are more focused on themselves than you, and not everyone will remember all of the details of the incident in question.

It’s probably easy to name several people who have fallen prey to being victims either by self-sabotage or because of another person or group who negatively impacted the perceptions of others.

This is one reason people or companies hire public relations or crisis management firms to help mitigate the damage done to a brand due to a negative incident. Tylenol, Perrier, Exxon and other companies all had major incidents which severely tarnished the brand.

Both time and redrafting their messaging helped restore the brand back to either neutral, or took them out of the harsh spotlight of scrutiny.

Now think about people who have seen their reputation tarnished. It is painful to watch, and even more traumatic to experience.  People find out who their true friends and supporters are in these instances.

The folks who faired best when their reputation took a turn downwards were the ones who had high degrees of emotional intelligence, but more importantly, surrounded themselves with a support network to help to rebuild their personal brand.

Of course, we are all responsible of our own reputations, but having a strong professional support group, can work miracles.

This is possible because the supporter essentially acts as a reputation buffer when the crash occurs. Having these human ‘airbags’ takes serious and quality time to build, but once they are in place, unless the incident was completely egregious, or ethically challenging, most people will be able to play a support role in restoring someone else’s professional reputation.

On the flip side of one’s reputation being damaged is what most people work to achieve. To have a stellar reputation.

As we all know, good reputations are earned, over time.

Since social media can build or break a career, reputations need to be simultaneously guarded, but also nurtured. The speed at which this communication channel moves makes it both positive and negative in terms of having an impact on the professional perception others have of you.

There are safeguards to control some of the negative aspects of social media, but more importantly, the positive attributes should be optimized.  It’s okay to toot your own horn once in a while – perhaps you won an award, earned a certification, or made a significant contribution to a business project, maybe you volunteered time to a worthy cause . . . take a bow, and build your reputation.

Although no one wants to have an incident impact their professional reputation, it can happen. Although the immediate aftermath feels devastating you can recover.  Do not to let it define who you are.

Most people are good by nature, and there are more who will forget what you did than remember what happened, or when. Keep your chin up, do the right thing when faced with tough choices, and most importantly, do what you can to preserve your reputation when you have an opportunity.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. We also work with individuals and sports teams to coach them to learn how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Announcement: I will be publishing my first business book next month. Information about how to pre-order my book will be posted on my WordPress site in the next few days. If you would like more details about my book, please send me an email at kathymurphy@me.com . Thank you. – Kathy

Women of Isenberg Conference: The organizers of this conference at the University of Massachusetts flagship campus in Amherst, MA, have invited me back for a second time to talk about my career in Marketing. If you are in Amherst, MA on Saturday, please let me know, as I would happy to say hello to you. This conference is ‘sold out’, so put this as a must attend conference on your calendar in February 2019.

 

When People Get Quiet

 

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Call it one of the senses, and I’m not sure which one, but there is definitely a sense you get when something is not quite right. This same sense can be applied where you work and I have unfortunately been 100% accurate in predicting something is going on in the office, and usually it is related to either a promotion, a firing or the company being acquired. Some might call this ability having a mild sense of psychic power, but whatever you might call it, my general sense is everyone has this same ability, but might not know how to tap into it. Having this ability can be both helpful and stressful, as it serves almost as a barometer of the pressure being felt in the office. 

There is a saying “the calm before the storm”, and I have seen and felt this more times than I care to admit. Most of the time something good is about to happen, but people are not allowed to talk about what will be happening, so they tend to get quiet, or act more reserved than they normally are. Conversely, when something ominous is about to happen, this same sense of quiet tends to permeate throughout the office almost like a fog. Generally a few people in the office are setting this tone, and the ones who are may not be aware they are doing so. However, there are signs you can pick up on to determine if something different is about to happen, and here are a few of them. 

  • The people who have knowledge about something going to happen whether it is positive or negative will generally start to have less eye contact with you prior to the “event” happening. 
  • People “in-the-know” will have a slightly different demeanor than they typically do (e.g., if they are normally very talkative, they will become less so). 
  • When asked questions which might either be on target or are close to what might be going on, the person who knows what is happening will potentially get fidgety and exhibit signs of being nervous (e.g., their neck turns red, they may start to sweat slightly on their forehead), or they quickly change the subject.
  • The response to your questions which would normally be longer, will be short and almost abrupt. 

If you encounter any of these behaviors occurring with the people who “know something”, try not to pressure them into telling you anything, as they generally are not in a position to do so. However, depending on how well you know them, and what type of relationship you have developed with them in the office, they may give you slight hints about what is going on, and whether it is a positive or negative scenario. People who are in management roles, and who may not have years of experience yet with change management occurring, will be much more transparent and easy to read than those with years of management experience. Of course this is a generalization, but more often than not, newer managers will have a more difficult time not wearing their emotions outwardly. This is not a bad thing, and it is part of what you learn how to deal with and do a better job of not revealing from an emotional or body language perspective. 

Being able to read what is going on and tapping into your intuitive senses allows you to  prepare you for what is inevitably going to happen. I’m not talking about a self fulfilling prophesy, but instead thinking through what your options might be when you have a sense something is happening which might impact you in a good or negative way. It is always far better to be aware than caught off guard when something in the office happens, as being too emotional in most office settings is not generally considered a good thing. Having the ability to control your emotions, and I am not talking about acting like a robot, but instead being composed on the outside even though you might me a hot mess on the inside. Most managers and upper level executives become quite good at masking their inward emotions, but being able to read the emotional cues they are giving off will serve you well in future situations when you will need to be composed and thinking clearly in any situation. 

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.