Considering your image at work is a healthy career strategy explains Marsha Egan
When hiring managers make decisions on who to promote for an open position, they don’t use just one variable. They don’t assess just the person’s decision-making skills, or just their ability to interact with customers, or their organizational skills. They assess the “package”. They assess everything they know about the candidate, not just their individual competencies.
So why is managing your image at work important to you? Because whether you’re gunning for a promotion or whether you’re happy in your current position, employment decisions about your career loom. In this age of mergers and acquisitions, you may be assessed for your current position as well as your future promotability.
Standing back and considering the image you portray at work is a healthy career strategy. Consider the picture of how others perceive you when your name is mentioned. They don’t tear apart the individual skills, attitudes and attributes you possess, they “see” an image that pops into their heads in the first few seconds your name is spoken. What image do they see? What image do you want them to see?
Here are four steps you can use to manage your image at work
1. Determine the image you want to project
While this sounds simple, not many workers consider their image as a goal or target, or something they can manage. Sometimes this is referred to as a personal brand. What do you want your boss, co-workers and company leaders to think about you when your name is mentioned or when they receive an email from you? Do you want them to think you’re forward thinking, positive, a hard worker, promotable, trustworthy? What is the image you believe you need to portray to meet or exceed your career goals?
2. Determine the gaps
It is time to have an honest assessment with yourself. Write down the attributes you want your image to contain and give yourself a rating of 0-5. You can also consider polling a few co-workers and even your boss by asking “what image do you believe I project here at work?” When you identify any gaps (I call them opportunities), focus on enhancing that attribute. You’ll be surprised at the results.
3. Congruency is required
Managing your image is aligning who you are, what you do, how you do it, and becoming relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value. So, for you to project that image, it needs to be authentically you. Who you are, what you think, what you say and what you do must be congruent for you to consistently and effectively manage your image.
As an example, if a worker wants his or her image to be that of being trustworthy, he or she must be trustworthy 100% of the time, not only in actions, but in thoughts. If this worker breaks a trust once, the image is tarnished. If the worker wants to be known as positive and proactive, a “that won’t work – we tried it last year and it didn’t work” response is not congruent with the image desired.
Congruency is key, because people will generally think of you in the same way as you think of yourself. If you don’t believe your opinions matter to the company, others may not either. If you truly believe that you are promotable to the next position and deserving of it, you will increase your chances of getting that promotion.
4. Market your image
Once you’ve embraced your authentic image vision for yourself, don’t keep it a secret. No one else but you can broadcast yourself to be seen the way you want to be seen. Letting others know your capabilities and successes is a career strategy that works.
Think of yourself as a “package”
Act accordingly, every time. Just remember, the character you portray is your brand. Look the part; live the part. Be the part. And watch your career flourish.