No matter how brilliant a career you’ve established for yourself, you’ll experience bumps along the way—some may even originate from your poor decisions. Other dings may be as simple and as complicated as misperceptions by decision-makers.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Once assessed as less than who you know you are, it’s hard to change that viewpoint—but not impossible!
Unfortunately, perceptions form easily and speedily but are far more challenging to alter. You see, once a decision is made regarding you, your every action is viewed through this set in the stony lens of knowing even if you’ve changed—nobody will credit it.
Unless you get to the bottom of what is going on, the probability of overcoming the evaluation isn’t easy. And leaving the company isn’t the answer because you’ll likely run smack dab into the same situation again.
To turn negative into favorable career judgments, try these simple steps.
Awareness Has Power! The moment it clicks in that others in your company view you differently than you desire, it’s time to generate a game plan for yourself.
No dallying. To realize all that is possible for you, jump in to change how you’re positioned in the organization.
Is it easy? No. And it is career transforming.
Get Into Your Company’s Head! Explore—How you’re classified, and How your organization perceives your contribution? Ensure you understand factually—not what you think, but really: How your boss considers you.
Nothing changes until you’re open to listening and hearing what others are thinking. Wrap your arms around the reality of the perception you’ve created. Own it. As it doesn’t matter whether you stepped in mud or not if everyone believes you did. In their eyes, your boots are muddy. Your job then is to overcome any view detrimental to your reputation and future.
Identify the Gap! Nothing ever changes until you systematically knock down what stands in your way. And that can only occur as you purpose to know the discrepancy between who you and what you believe you’re contributing to the organization—and how others measure you. This step is not a time for sensitivity on your part. Dig deep. Ask questions with exploration as your goal not to box others into a corner of their wrongness.
Think Strategically! Why do you need to take dramatic steps? Simply adjusting your behavior and then relying on the organization to notice is naïve. Rarely will this change anyone’s viewpoint. If you think new responses will eventually change perceptions, you’ll harm your career. It takes way too long (if the attitude shift in others occurs at all), and by then, your career progression rarely can catch up to where it might have been before the misstep occurred.
Falling On Your Sword! It takes place once you comprehend the disparity between what you believe about yourself, what the perception is, and what you know to be true. Use this technique with discretion. Proactively replacing the already knowing isn’t easy. It takes courage.
- Face the issue head-on by going to the person or individually talk to the group who have formed a negative opinion of what you did wrong (if you did) or the misperception (if that is what occurred);
- Implementation Consideration: Can I think of any targeted ways and opportunities I can generate to state emphatically and convincingly that this is who I was, and this is who I am?
- Acknowledge The Issue by letting them know you’ve seen, you understand, you’re committed to change;
- Succinctly State: “This is who I was or may have appeared to be,” and “This is who I now am” statement.
- Action, Action, Action…all your actions moving forward must align with this transformed you.
- Heads-Up Falling On Your Sword isn’t child’s play. It does work.
- From This Point Forward, every thought and deed you commit must align with the new you you’re affirming. If you don’t, you’ll fall even deeper into the pit of your company’s previous negative impression.
When you Fall On Your Sword, you’re powerfully breaking up stuck impressions of you. Then, you keep embedding the new you in their mind until the old no longer exists.
This tactic has you taking a stand for your future. If you revert to your past behavior, you will be far worse off than before Falling On Your Sword, which is why I suggest you must be judicious in utilizing this technique. You can only do it when you acknowledge and change the problem that initiated your fall from grace.
Keep these tips in mind. Your career doesn’t have to fade off into nothingness just because you made a profession-limiting misstep, or you’re labeled a middle of the road player, or you aligned with the wrong political power. Your future is up to you… should you choose to take action!