We all need to engage in continuous learning about Brand – our company brand, creating a branded experience, generating brand energy, etc. But what about our personal Brand? I’d like to spur some thinking on How 2 Brand U (that is Brand Y. O. U.) Each of us in this mighty workplace brings something to the table. Do you know what that something is? Have you defined your personal Brand or is your Brand being defined for you? Taking control of your personal Brand may be a defining moment in your professional development!
The word ‘brand” is both a noun (thing) and a verb (action). The noun definition refers to a “mark” or “stamp” (its origin comes from 16th century England’s practice of using hot irons to mark criminals). The verb definition is “to promote or impress.” This is the definition most critical when assessing your personal Brand.
Taking control of your personal Brand may be a defining moment in your professional development!
The purpose of exploring this topic is to pose the question of personal Brand to contributors at every level of an organization – and particularly to front line staff, supervisors, and managers. While the importance of delivering a “branded experience” may be well understood at the front lines, understanding one’s own personal Brand is of equal importance. It drives professional development which, in turn, drives professional value. When the investment is made in Brand U, the payback goes directly to Y. O. U.!
When defining Brand U, it is critical to have an acute awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. This is always the first step – to be brutally honest with yourself, about what you’re good at and about what needs work. However, for some, these kinds of questions yield a state of total confusion and seem to overwhelm. These folks are stunned into paralysis and think, “Uh-oh, I don’t know if I know what I’m good at” or “Gee, this is going to take some time – I’ve never thought about this before” or the most dangerous of all responses, “I’m not good at anything!” (This final phrase allows a free pass to failure. So, if it comes to mind, get thinking and identify something that you do well!!)
“The past is a great place, and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.” —Mick Jagger
I have a theory that I believe works to get the Brand U ball rolling – even when you are not certain about what specifically you are good at! It relates to ACTIONS. Sometimes we all must rely on the “act as if” principle if we want to experience confidence, happiness, enthusiasm, etc., and we don’t feel it naturally. Well, “act as if you do” and before you know it you will experience the desired state of mind. The fact is that what you do on a regular basis defines your personal Brand. If you are confident, engaged, and a team player that will be your personal Brand. If, on the other hand, you carry a negative attitude, find the routines of your job boring, stupid, and beneath you that becomes your Brand – that becomes what you are known for.
Managing your personal Brand can begin with some very simple behaviors that demonstrate your understanding of the job and the importance of being/becoming a successful professional. Here are ten ideas.
SHOW UP FOR WORK! It sounds simple. But those that show up all the time feel the impact when co-workers do not – they carry a larger load and possibly have a longer day to cover those that are MIA.
SHOW UP ON TIME. If you’re going to work, consider committing to on time arrival. Some excuse tardy behavior by saying, “I’m always late – that’s just who I am.” Well, this is the perfect time to “act as if.” Being late in Contact Center environments (this includes breaks, lunches, etc.) causes many issues. Customers experience greater delays and co-workers carry larger loads. Generally, punctuality is part of the “scorecard.” But in my experience, the level of tolerance for this behavior is way too high and amounts to management granting permission for the infraction, while accepting the consequences. Brand U – on time arrival! This applies to remote workers as well as premise based. I know it’s hard for some to imagine being “late” to arrive or return from lunch/break when working remotely, but anyone running a remote operation knows it happens.
LEARN. When “training” is offered, take it and LEARN! Learning is a constant companion to successful professionals.
READ. Read what you can about your industry, your job, your company. The Internet allows all of us access to vast amounts of information: articles, blogs, reports, etc. Read to learn, to challenge yourself on any number of topics. Learn more about creating a personal Brand, about being a learning professional, and about effective communication! Discover skills that will strengthen your personal Brand.
CONTRIBUTE. Volunteer to cover that person who is late or doesn’t show up. Be generous in your willingness to pitch in and get the job done. Help others out if they are “stuck” and you know you can assist. Participate in events and activities sponsored at work.
THINK. “THINK” was a one-word slogan developed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. It appeared in IBM offices, plants, and company publications in the 1920s; in the early 1930s it began to take precedence over other IBM slogans. “THINK” eventually appeared in wood, stone, and bronze and was published in company newspapers, magazines, calendars, photographs, and even New Yorker cartoons. It remained for years the name of IBM’s employee publication. (Source: www.ibm.com)
When defining Brand U, it is critical to have an acute awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.
I have always treasured the THINK sign my father placed in our kitchen while I was growing up. He was given the sign by some IBM colleagues when he worked with them on a couple of projects in the 60’s. Dad (father of ten children) brought it home and declared it the motto he most wanted us to live by! And I must say, so far, so good.
Think about alternatives, Think, for me often means asking questions, such as: “do I really have enough information to make this judgement/decision?”
FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS. We all are familiar with the ever-growing population of co-workers whose Brand is to point out problems! Problems are easy to spot; solutions are the focus of Brand U professionals. Consider the issue, the impact, the frequency, and what (if anything) can be done about the issue. Then ask questions: Is this issue on the leadership radar? Is it a real issue or simply part of negative behavior? Look carefully – the Contact Center is generally full of complex processes that if “tweaked” could take seconds off many thousands of calls. That adds up and Brands U as a resource.
READ THE ANNUAL REPORT. If you want to understand your company’s business strategy, the letter from the CEO contained in all annual reports will spell out for you what the company is gearing up for in the coming year. If you work for a publicly held company the Annual Report may be found online and many non-public companies have similar info under “about us” links.
LOOK BEYOND FEAR. FEAR is capable of derailing success and professional development by creating a paralysis of sorts. This stops you from acting on most of the above suggestions. I once heard FEAR described as False Evidence that Appears Real. FEAR is often made up of worry, a number of “what ifs” and unknowns. The next time you’re struck with FEAR consider asking yourself some serious questions: What does this really mean? Do I have enough information to make this judgment? Who could help me sort this out? Remember, if you have your health, your mind, your BRAND, creating professional success is nothing to be afraid of. Confront what causes FEAR and be rewarded with growth!
COMMUNICATION is the key to a successful Brand be it individual or corporate. First and foremost, host a brand friendly internal dialogue. Our minds can support us or scare us, choose support, tell the voice of failure and of fear they are not needed, there is only opportunity not danger. Danger of failure, danger of being wrong, danger of being misunderstood, shun that narrative, and give yourself tools to improve your communications outcomes. Excellent communication skills are developed and nurtured by learning how to do it better. Read Tony Robbins book Unlimited Power to get some great tips.
Think behaviors and actions! Brand U is about doing. Knowing all there is to know is NOT the mission. Being ready to receive and respond is the posture of Brand U strength! Good Luck!