Take charge over shaping perceptions of your work early and often…

This is an incredibly inward focused era we live in and we are constantly bombarded with a million different distractions both at the workplace as well as home. In a work context, we seldom have time to stop to breathe, let alone develop an appreciation for some of the great work our teams are executing – therefore the need to take it upon ourselves to shape perception about our contribution as often as we can – as early in the cycle as we can.

1. First of all – strive to do great work that will stand out in and by itself

2. Create a concise communication strategy to articulate the great work you are doing (reference results, peer- appreciation, routine reports highlighting your performance and contribution, etc.) – think of a weekly communication to your boss/management team highlighting your key results for the current week and focus areas for next week – think bullet text only

3. Schedule fixed time performance checkpoint reviews that focus on what you have been doing over the past month/Qtr (depending on your manager availability and schedule)
This is also an excellent way to set yourself up for a more balanced performance appraisal at year end

4. Use social media where relevant and available – if your Organization promotes blogs and Intranet facilities where employees can share knowledge, thoughts, skills and experience – make sure you are a key contributor – send out links to your latest bogs and contributions to your peers and leadership team – this is the new wave – and we need to embrace and adopt it into our mainstream work ethic!

In terms of perception being everything – not much has changed from  the Equity Theory, invented by John Stacey Adams in 1963  – summarized below:

Essentially the Equity Theory, invented by John Stacey Adams in 1963 focused on the  principle of fairness and balance; the belief here is that the employee’s degree of motivation is correlated to their perception of equity, fairness, justice, especially as demonstrated by their management in the work place.
When employees consider or measure fairness they typically compare their job  contribution to the Organization and also what they receive in return (their rewards) from the organization (fairness assessment /test)
Employees also typically compare these job inputs and outputs with the comparable co-workers’ job input and outputs (this referred to as the balance test).

Follow the above 4 tips and you should be well on your way towards shaping better perception for yourself – from your leadership and peer group

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I believe that trying to create or market a perception of oneself or even to brand oneself is all good and perfectly acceptable as long as the perception or the brand we are pushing is in alignment with whom we truly are.

In a professional context, we are constantly under the microscope to perform based on our past achievements and then some. What I mean is that our professional image is a function of what we have successfully achieved in the past, how well we are performing in the present, and how does this translate into our potential performance in the future. In other words, reviewing an individual’s past professional achievements  is as good a way to predict his/her future potential achievements as any.

So when we go about sharing and championing positive perceptions of our work and our achievements they need to align with what people already know about our past achievements especially if they portray a consistent trend. This is the most practical way to create a positive perception of yourself to others around you – when the image/brand you are positioning truly lines up with your past record, and all of which when combined, points convincingly to a high value, ‘bankable’ asset that the organization can count on!

Which leads me to my all time favourite quote on perception:
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
― Aldous Huxley

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