Whether you work in the federal government or private sector, your image and reputation is everything. This is true whether you are an employee or a manager, although being a manager creates an even bigger burden because you have to worry about your personal reputation and image, as well as that of the unit or group you manage. In order to improve your influence, image or reputation, you must first take an honest of assessment of where you stand today.
An easy place to start is to see how you were rated in your last performance review. Did you manager tell you what you were excelling in and what you need to work on? Take that advice as a starting place to improve. Many times employees discount the review believing the manager doesn’t understand how hard they work, but frankly, you have to take it seriously unless you already have another job lined up. What if you weren’t given anything specific to work on? It never hurts to ask your manager for specific feedback, and it is almost guaranteed your manager will appreciate your initiative. Here are some ways to approach the conversation:
- For those who haven’t been giving specific feedback on areas for improvement. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Based on your observations of my (or my unit’s) work, what’s an area I can work on?
- For those who already know what they need to work on: You’ve told me I need to work on my writing skills. I did some research, and there is a writing course being offered next month that I’d like to attend. What do I need to do to be considered for the class?
- For the superstar who get’s consistently high ratings. I think it is important that I work on skills that will help position me to take on more responsibility. What do you think is one area that will benefit our work unit and help me to develop my leadership skills?
Develop a plan to work on the areas identified for improvement. If you think you have no need for improvement, you are likely to stay exactly where you are. In addition to asking your manager for feedback, you can ask friends, mentors, colleagues or work with a coach. The point here is the get an honest assessment of how you are viewed.
Here are the keys to Step 1:
- Find out how you are viewed by your manager and colleagues.
- Select at least one area for improvement or growth.
- Develop a plan to improve in that area.
- Consider a career coach.
Just by engaging in Step 1, you will already begin to improve how you are viewed. Next time, we will talk about Step 2: creating strategic alliances.