6 Key Traits to be Positively Perceived at Work!

business-leader-557x362If you listen to talk radio, there is a commercial for online reputation management.  They clean up unsavory marks against you which of course are undeserved.  They do not get to the root issue of why those remarks were made.  Just that you can clean them up.

There are corporate courses that teach you reputation management, personal branding, and other self-promotion type materials.  These classes tell you how to put yourself in a better light to presumably advance your career.  I guess because being yourself makes you unlikable.

In my opinion, the key ways to have a positive work perception would be to have the following five attributes:

1.       Reliable- the best way to build a positive reputation is to honor your word.  Deliver projects on time, on budget, and with high quality work.  Give a consistently high effort every day. 

2.       Humble- keeping an even keel is key.  Even if you are receiving rock star attention and results, remember to be humble.  You are more likely to reap the rewards if you realize that this success could be fleeting, but how you act during this time will last forever.

3.       Relatable- you do not need to be “one of the guys” to be relatable.  You just need to be approachable, generally friendly, engaging, and able to connect with your team and co-workers.  You do not need to be the gossip mill or happy hour planner.

4.       Concerned-  simply put, you need to care about your company, co-workers, team, customer, vendors, and other key stakeholders.  You need to balance all of these factors to try to do the right thing. 

5.       Self-Aware- you must be proficient in your job.  You do not need to be the best, but you need to have a thorough understanding of how your position affects the rest of the company- and how the rest of the company affects your position.  Understanding where you fit is a key way to make sure you are respected.

6.       Fair- always do the right thing.  You need to treat people as they need to be treated, not necessarily equally, but always in a just manner.

You need to understand that not everyone will like you, but everyone can respect you.  Following these traits will make that possible.

Handle Your Private Business in Private

meetingOne of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was to handle my private business in private.  The message is pretty clear.  If you have a confrontational moment with a team member, spouse, child, etc., hold the drama until you are by yourselves.

However, it is also one of the hardest lessons that a leader needs to learn.  An insecure manager will look to handle a perceived mistake by a coworker in a public way- proving to their management that they were not at fault.  They look for a scapegoat for a situation that did not go their way.

A leader looks at the situation and decides to handle the issue behind closed doors.  They realize that public humiliation is the worst thing that can do to anyone as it affects not just that team member, but the whole team.  Instead of a confident bunch of members, they are all worried about when it is their turn to be embarrassed.

A leader will work to rectify the situation without assigning public blame.  They will fix the issues and make people comfortable that issue will not happen again without throwing someone under the bus.  They realize that we all make mistakes and that pointing them out benefits no one.

A leader also defends their team when someone else decides to publicly humiliate a team member.  One of my favorite sayings is “I can call my baby ugly, but you can’t”.  Remember your team is watching how you handle this situation and will decide whether they want to follow your lead.

Grace under fire is the most important public trait of a leader.  Not every day is going to be the Fourth of July.  Sometimes it is Black Monday.  How you react separates you from the crowd.

This is not to say that you need to be weak on how you handle issues.  Once you are behind closed doors, you need to make sure the person understands where they went wrong, how they can correct it, and how together you can work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Yelling and screaming will not get your desired result- calculated conversation will.  Be smart in how you discuss the situation so that it ends up being a teaching moment.  More than half of the time spent by a leader should be on instructing how to raise the bar for the team.  When they make a mistake, it is the best time to put that into action.

The Art of Selling at a Conference

trade_show_successI just returned from a conference this past weekend that feature the trifecta of interesting content, energized attendees, and professional vendors.  It was a great event and got me thinking about how to sell at a conference.  To me, there are three key ingredients:

  1. Strong Product Demonstration. You need to have a product that is easy to demonstrate and is visually interesting for passersby to watch the demo.  The old Home Shows were masters of getting people to buy $20 mops that could suck up gallons of water.  Infomercials are perfect examples as well.  You need the product after you see it.  If you can perform the demo on the person, it draws even more interest.
  2. Earnest Demonstrators.  The attendee does not want to be pitched.  They want to talk to someone who takes the time to understand their needs and then see a potential solution.  Too many times, the person is so desperate for a sale that they forget to ask the most important questions- “What’s your name?” and “How can I help you?”  People want to be made to feel important.  Gracious demonstrators help that- especially if that person will also be their company contact.
  3. Impeccable Follow Up. The sale is in the follow up.  Many conferences do not lend themselves to immediate sales.  As an exhibiter, you need to capture your leads and send strong and detailed follow up.  Remind the lead who you are, what you do, and why they should care.  Outline the costs and order process to make it simple for them to choose you.  Hyperlinks to an online store work very well for this.  Make sure your follow up is timely- within the first three days that the visitor is returning but not on the first day back in the office.  You do not want to get lost in the inbox.  Stay diligent on the follow up as well.  Add the person to a weekly then monthly contact.  They may not be ready to buy today, what you want to be top of mind when they are.

Too many times, people look at their immediate return at a conference to determine whether it was successful.  Instead take a long view of the situation.  You may be very pleased at what you see.