Rebuilding Your Professional Reputation

  • Posted by Steve Goldberg
  • |
  • July 30, 2015
bad professional reputation

Over the past couple of months, we have discussed ways one can damage or enhance their professional reputation. Some of the ways to enhance your reputation is to be engaged in your industry and the community, work with honesty, be in communication with your constituents, and be a team player.  On the other hand, some of the easiest ways to tarnish your reputation include, lacking in integrity, poor communication, throwing your teammates under the bus, and enjoying happy hour too much with co-workers or clients.

It has been said that it takes 10 positive statements to erase 1 negative one.  Could that be said for a person’s reputation?  How does one bounce back after they’ve earned a poor reputation? It’s not always easy or possible, depending on how it’s been damaged, but you can in most cases rebuild your professional reputation. Below are some actions you can take to rebuild your professional reputation.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In our first part of our  professional reputation management series, we discussed the importance of acting with integrity, and keeping your word. Staying true to your word builds a reputation of someone who is reliable, dependable, and can potentially be trusted with more responsibility. If your manager provides you with feedback that you’re not meeting deadlines you’ve set, or you’re continuously getting reminder emails that you’ve missed something, you may be building a reputation that you’re not reliable, and that your promises aren’t worth much.

Now, before you start trying to turn this perception around, take a step back and think about what you need to do in order to meet your deadlines. Once you’ve identified potential reasons why you’re not meeting your deadlines, commit yourself to fixing the problem. Here are some examples:

  • How is your workload—do you have too much on your plate?—If your workload is already too much to begin with and you start taking on more tasks because you feel pressured, speak to your supervisor—maybe there is an opportunity to pull in another resource.
  • Are you overpromising, because you think you have to?–Are you undercutting the time it takes to complete a deliverable because you think you have to? If so, stop! Undercutting yourself only sets you up for almost certain failure. In general, if you provide someone with a deadline, they will almost always let you know if it doesn’t work for them (so your manager won’t be surprised).
  • Are you planning for the worst and hoping for the best?Often times, especially in most digital media disciplines, unexpected deadlines, meetings, and issues arise. Factoring in some wiggle room into your deadlines will not only help you plan (as much as possible) for these types of interruptions, but will also make you look better if you deliver ahead of schedule.

You Don’t Call, You Don’t Write

Are you getting feedback that you’re not effectively communicating? Sometimes it seems like fixing the issue is as simple as doing better, but it’s not always. Communicating and setting expectations is critical for all working relationships to thrive, but it’s not always obvious how to best communicate with different people.

You may have a micro-managing supervisor where constant communication is necessary; or you have a client who is very hands-off. In either case, being proactive and adjusting to their communication style will make sure you’re managing their expectations and not diminishing your reputation.

Miscellaneous Ideas

  • Use Google Calendar or some form of digital means to remind you of deadlines – not just when something is due, but key benchmarks along the way.
  • If you make a mistake or act out of turn, apologize to the people affected. Taking responsibility earns the respect of others.
  • Even if you don’t think there is a need to apologize or take responsibility for something, consider your co-worker or client’s point of view and do it anyway. Better safe than sorry.
  • Make the changes in your behavior and actions permanent changes. People want to see consistency to help build back trust.