Thursday, August 9, 2007

Here is my first article for With-TV

Managing Perception is Key to Success

Buzzing in the Workplace
By: Rob Roy

While some might still consider me ‘fresh’ in the workplace, the past couple years have provided me with wisdom that has left horizontal impressions on my forehead! The growth I’ve experienced was most evident to me when I met a group of new hires who recently began working at my firm. I recognized the gleam of enthusiasm and anticipation in their eyes and the innocence of their smiles – a familiar look I know I had two years ago.

If I could share my nugget of wisdom with the new hires, I would tell them the following: managing perception is key to success.

What do I mean? How people perceive you in the office and how confident you feel about your contribution to your team ultimately impact the substance of work you receive as well as the availability of opportunities that can advance your career. With substantial work and solid opportunities, you are well equipped to demonstrate potential that (I hope) will lead to a promotion.

So, how to begin managing perception? (Obviously, it is easier said then done.) The following five tips have worked well for me and my co-workers:

Praise in public and criticize constructively in private. When a peer does well leading a team meeting or presentation, congratulate them on doing a good job. If an organizational process has improved, commend the person in charge of leading the change. When feeling disgruntled because of a policy change or the printer doesn’t print correctly, leave the criticism for you to discuss with your manager. Avoid raising any criticism in front of a large group.

Act engaged at all times. Ask good questions - even if you think you know the answer – and follow-up with additional insight or observation on what you learned. Active participation shows you are not a silent observer and that you are engaged in the content of your job. Be wary though – peers often recognize and dislike excessive participation. Don’t go overboard!

Always know the next step. Understand the different responsibilities between your current and any future position you desire. Seek out opportunities to demonstrate capability for tasks that are part of the next job. Perform these responsibilities well and utilize peers for guidance and direction when uncertain about how to approach the tasks.

Work on ad hoc projects or participate on a task force. Extra points are usually earned when you participate on a task force or ad hoc project outside the scope of your day to day responsibilities. However, it is important to be proactive about finding a project or task force as it typically doesn’t drop in your lap. You could participate on anything as big as a team devoted to positively impacting how your company is structured to as little as creating a committee that plans out-of-office social events.

Record, record, and … yes, record. Keep a documented log of your project work and a description of your contribution to each project. Focus on contributions that positively impact the business. Share the log when moving to a new team or transitioning to a new manager to demonstrate your experience and manage your new leader’s expectations. Also, reference this list – strategically, of course – when approaching your performance review to ensure the scope of your accomplishments are captured in your review.

Cheers to all you new hires that are beginning your careers and best of luck! May you strategically manage perception and have a year filled with success!

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