Managing Forward

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Steering newborn managers away from the pitfalls of "management" to rewarding challenge of managing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Your reputation is for sale, but who's buying?

I was recently asked by a manager how to handle somebody in the workplace that constantly interrupts when being asked to do something. A great question I thought, and suggested they walk in this person's shoes for awhile and ask themselves why if they were them, would they react so negatively? We explored and agreed that although it may appear at first to be an aggressive act it may actually be born from fear and used as a defence mechanism. That maybe this worker is afraid of being exposed in relation to their knowledge, understanding or ability. In effect, this person is looking for help but their fight or flight response is camouflaging their need.

The more I thought of this situation albeit an extreme one, the more I thought about how our true message is often clouded by our persona - that our reputation, history and approach sends a message for us whether we want it to or not. I like to refer to this as our schema.

I can't help recalling the dusty old 1980's motivational poster we have around the place that says "Attitudes are contagious - is yours worth catching?", for me as kitsch as it is, it's also a truism. In discussing how leaders can make emotional connections Scott Edinger points to how emotions are contagious and how our mood in work can affect others. 
Maybe we can re-phrase that old poster: If your reputation is your product could you sell it? would anybody buy it?

I suppose it's like when somebody lets you out into traffic, you're more likely then to repay the favour to somebody else. Just be sure to say thank you with a flash of the lights - do ever see a driver's reaction when you fail to acknowledge their graciousness?

How to change your schema;

  1. Ask yourself what your colleague wants to achieve 
  2. Can you help them achieve it
  3. If you can do it, and be gracious not self-regarding

Our reputation really does precede us, but the good news is we can develop this through our approach. We communicate everyday and the more helpful, inquisitive and open our approach is the deeper and truer our reputation will become.


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