The commitment that organizations provide to their workers is on the decline. As I talk to my colleagues I find it to be extremely rare for someone to spend over 20 years with an organization. More often, I find people who will change jobs every 3-5 years. Even that time frame is continuing to shorten.
Often workers move from organization to organization to find a better opportunity, and they are also often pushed from organization to organization. The worker that can survive, or even capitalize in today’s business environment has a key set of differentiating characteristics. At Project Management for Today we call these differentiating characteristics a Personal Brand, and part of our mission is to help you build a valuable Personal Brand.
This article provides 8 high-level practices I believe are generally necessary to create the right kind of Personal Brand. These don’t involve any training, and I would argue that most of these are things you learned in Kindergarten. Do these things and people will want to continue to do business with you. Do the opposite of these things then your value will plummet and people will refrain from doing business with you.
So, with this in mind, let’s get started!
- Be Relentlessly Optimistic
A new situation has suddenly emerged at work. A merger might have happened or a layoff might have just been announced. You know that somehow this will have an impact on your job. You also know you have a choice. Are you going to take a positive perspective or are you going to take a negative perspective?
I would strongly go for the positive perspective. I know I can bring more energy to my organization, I can bring more counsel and advice to my organization, and I feel happier about my future when I choose to be positive. The moment I give in to negativity, I go to a place of scarcity and I become less approachable. I become the dark cloud of the office that everyone wants to eradicate.
You will be best served to be abundantly positive and to exterminate any negativity from your attitude in these situations.
- Know Your Customers
Do you know your customers? Do you know who it is that utilizes and values your work? Get to know each of these people and effectively give them what they want. Do not be surprised if your customers are simply your co-workers. Not the Vice President or your boss, but just people who don’t report to you. These are often the people who benefit most from what you offer to the organization. Their success is often an indicator of your success.
- Be Responsive
Communication is essential within our field of Project Management. Communication is also complex. I find that people can message me on my phone, on Skype, on Slack, and on Email. Additionally, they have the option of walking by my desk or calling me on my phone.
My ability to provide a response that is as instantaneous as possible is a key differentiator in the value of my personal brand. If I consistently get back to the person, regardless of the time of day and within an hour then the value of my personal brand increases. There is an inverse relationship between the value of my personal brand and the length of time it takes me to provide a response. The longer it takes the more worthless my brand becomes.
- Be Effective with Your Responses
It is not enough to provide a response. The need must be met quickly according to the needs of the requestor. If the need is met instantaneously, then your brand will be valued. If the need is not met or if it takes too long for the need to be met, then your brand becomes less valued.
- Don’t Say No. Instead, Offer Alternatives
People do not like to simply hear that what they are requesting can’t or won’t be done. People become much happier if a substitute for what they are asking for is offered to them. It is important to remember that when a request is made, there can be many different ways to service the need. Often the need can be met with an alternative that is already present. Try to search for that alternative before just telling someone it can’t (or won’t) be done.
- Be Universally Supportive
It is best to make two assumptions about everyone in your organization:
1. Everyone has value within your organization
2. Everyone wants to do what is right for your organization
If you hold these assumptions until proven otherwise, then you will automatically start to empathize with and support your coworkers. People will see this and, in turn, they will see your value and will begin to see that you want to do what is right for the organization. Your personal brand will only grow within the organization.
Now there might be individuals you run across who will consistently invalidate the two assumptions above. When this happens continue to approach these individuals with a relentlessly optimistic attitude when you must deal with them. Otherwise, generally avoid these types of individuals.
- Don’t Assume Your Contributions Are Going to be Recognized
You need to make sure that what you do for the organization is documented on an ongoing basis, even if the performance period spans many different months. Otherwise, people will just remember what happened recently when it is time to evaluate your performance.
One way that I do this is I provide a weekly status report for my boss by providing an executive summary of where I am at with my current tasks. I take special care to note my accomplishments and I save these in a separate file. When it is time for my next performance evaluation, I pass these accomplishments to my boss for his or her knowledge. It is up to me to make sure that my contributions are recognized and I can’t leave it up to my boss to remember everything I have done.
- Expect to Make a Contribution
The last practice I would offer you is come to your organization expecting to make a contribution to your organization’s mission each and every day. Constantly look for meaningful work within your organization. If the work that you are providing is not valued, then your personal brand will suffer within the organization no matter how highly respected you otherwise are.
Sadly, if you are not doing anything meaningful within the organization it may be time to look for something meaningful to do outside of the organization. It is important to remember that every position has a lifecycle. Learn to recognize when your position has reached the end of its lifecycle.
So, there you have it. Do each of these 8 things constantly and consistently and you will have one of the most valuable brands within your organization. You will be viewed as one of the most liked, responsive, and valued people within your organization. Your reputation will be that of someone whom people will want to continue to do business with as they move from organization to organization. This will open opportunities for you in the diverse and varied business environment of today.
Now go out and build a valued personal brand!
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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