Influencing your Reputation and Brand
Your Reputation Far Exceeds Your Marketing Reach
A lot of companies will allocate a large part of their spend on advertising and marketing, looking to ensure that their brand is exactly aligned to their wants and wishes.
Individuals should allocate effort and time to ensure that their brand is aligned to their own wants and wishes.
Time, effort, money, advertising and marketing if used wisely will work towards enhancing the company’s and individual’s reputation and brand. However, what seems to be forgotten is that your reputation far exceeds your marketing reach. Your reputation is grown over time. Your reputation is built through a series of interactions with others, through a series of promises delivered or broken, through trust that you command or lose. Every interaction with someone else steers your reputation and brand, for the better or worse.
Your brand is not what you put out there it is what is received by others. Your brand is built on others’ perception and, whilst you have a great influence over it, ultimately you cannot control it.
Many years ago I worked with a manager who I would categorise in the “delusional” slot. What was received from this manager and his communication style was that he was short tempered, unrealistic with his commands, had lots of mood swings, was flighty with his favouritism and was for most part an ungrateful person. This was in complete contrast to what he believed his reputation and brand was. He believed that through his communication he was delivering a firm and yet fair approach, being level-headed and open and that his approach was that he didn’t want to make friends, he just wanted to earn other people’s respect.
There was a real disconnect between what he perceived to be true and what was actually true. He was disliked, disrespected and delusional.
On the very few occasions you were honoured with his managers presence, his own manager would tell us what an excellent job we were doing and how fortunate we were to have such a strong manager. Could she not read body language? Could she not see the side-glances and the look of dismay? Did she not listen to the team saying it could be done differently? Part of the ‘firm and yet fair approach’ was his constant barrage of “Why don’t you use your initiative? You only deliver the absolute minimum to get by”. Shall I tell you why? Because when anyone did use their initiative they were chastised for not delivering exactly what was being asked of them.
It was not unknown within the team to try and get back at the manager, to stick it to the man! Where possible and when appropriate we would try to trip him up; not literally, figuratively speaking. And how we would laugh and rejoice when we succeeded!
What did the Managers Management style mean to his reputation?
You do the maths He had one manager who would speak highly of him, and he had four direct reports with a team of 30 talking badly of him. What is one manager’s positive marketing reach versus 30 people giving constant negative comments?
Being ignorant of your reputation and that of your company’s is no excuse. Planning to change your reputation and brand through marketing alone doesn’t work. Brand and reputation are based on recurring actions both good and bad. Others measure those recurring actions, not you.
You cannot buy your reputation, you must work towards it, it must be part of you. You should be authentic and believe in what you are giving. Trying to gain a brand that is in complete contrast to your natural self and values will not be sustainable; the truth will always come out.
4 steps to influencing your reputation and brand
It is imperative that you source what is being said about you by others. Carrying this out correctly will afford you a benchmark from which defies an action plan.
This is not an opportunity to approach the people you like, and who like you, for an ego stroke. Nor is it an exercise in going to people who you do not get on with or who do not get on with you. Listening is the aim to get a balanced view. It is important that you know what is being perceived by others. From the feedback received you can make an informed decision to continue as is or enhance your reputation by planning and executing an action plan.
Success requires action! Drive success through performance!! Act now.
Own your reputation
a. Consider who would be the best people to approach to receive balanced feedback.
As a manager (or want-to-be manager) consider who within your team you would ask for feedback. This must include ambassadors as well as detractors. Your manager should be on the list, along with peers outside of your department and possibly clients.
The magic number seven is a good number to work with. Therefore, you will possibly want a larger list (12 is a respectable number) of contacts so you have a sub-bench should anyone on the list decline your request.
It is always better to carry out this engagement face to face or at the very least by phone. You will have a better success rate than asking someone to put something in writing. Therefore, consider where the individuals are located. Before listing the person ask yourself “will the individual give me honest feedback?”
b. Know your goal from the feedback to determine the questions that should be asked.
This will also give you an idea of who your request should be directed towards.
c. List your questions.
Start off with softer, easier questions that the reviewers will be happy to answer. Progress to the tougher questions as you go through engagement. Limit yourself to 3-5 key questions (clarification can be in addition to this). Any more questions may feel like an interrogation. Be sure to ask open questions.
Example questions my include:
- On a day-to-day basis, in your own opinion what would you say is my greatest attribute? What might be an example of where you have observed me delivering on this?
- Again, on a day-to-day basis, and in your own opinion which area do you think I should focus my attention to improve upon? In your opinion where could I have carried this out and didn’t?
- When has there been a time when you were particularly surprised by my attitude and behaviour towards something?
- If someone was to ask you what I am like, what would be your response?
- And my last question: to get better within my role, what one area would you advise that I focus on improving?
Ensure you keep a record of the responses.
2. First Contact:
You now have a clear understanding of your goal, the individuals who you will request feedback from and of course the questions that you will ask. Now is the time to action step two.
a.If possible ask the individual face-to-face (or at the very least by phone) if they would be happy to give you feedback. Emphasise that you will be looking for balanced feedback which ideally will include the good and the bad. Elaborate on what you will be doing with the feedback.
Once they have agreed this you can confirm a date that is convenient for them.
b. Follow your face-to-face with a calendar invitations for the agreed date and time which includes a thank you for agreeing to take part in the feedback.
Ensure you carry this out for everyone who agrees.
For those who decline your offer, ensure you send an email thanking them for their time.
3. On the day:
Be prepared. Consider how you will note down the feedback received. Ensure that you are at the meeting location, or on the call, with time to spare. Where appropriate, provide refreshments
a. At the meeting reiterate your reasoning for requesting the meeting. Ask for honest feedback. Ensure the individual understands that you are looking for both the good and the bad and that you will not take anything personal or get defensive.
Remember. The end goal here is that you have an opportunity to improve upon yourself. You will only get that if the participant is honest and gives you both good and constructive feedback. If there is any doubt in your own mind that you will take this personally do not continue!
b. Ask your questions and note the answers.
c. Thank the reviewers for their honest feedback.
d. Ask them if they would like an update on your progress.
4. After the meeting:
Act to ensure that you extract the positives and the areas from improvement from feedback.
a, Send the reviewer a thank you note or email.
b. Focus on both the good and the more constructive feedback. Focus specifically on those areas which have been mentioned by more than one person
If feedback on a particular area was given by only by one person, I would suggest that you put this to the bottom of your list for further action points.
c. Devise an action plan of the steps you are going to take going forward. Include timelines.
Having someone impartial to discuss your reputation with is invaluable
Contact me for on 0203 489 6734 for additional support on this or any other area of leadership and management.