Protect Your Reputation In The Workplace
It is so easy to ruin your reputation in the workplace with one simple mistake or misjudgement.
It could be something as simple as taking extra time for lunch thinking nobody is looking, or coming in late just a few minutes each day or something that borders on theft such as taking home notepads, pens or pencils. While the value of these items may be minor, the thought that will cross anyones mind is “if they are taking home a notepad/pen/pencil – what else are they taking?”.
You want your reputation to be like sterling silver, gold or platinum where you work. The people you work with are like an extension of your family. Consider that you’re probably spending in excess of 8-hours per day with them.
Two things that can damage your reputation easily are workplace e-mails and voice mails that are replied to, or forwarded without thought.
E-Mail in the Workplace
You’ve just been lambasted about not doing something, in a fit of anger you decide to reply and in doing so pour your guts into the e-mail message. Oh you didn’t have any intention of sending the e-mail, but accidentally you hit SEND and the message is gone.
Problem one – you’ve said some rather nasty things in the e-mail. This person won’t be happy, but you can deal with one person – right?
Problem two – as you take a closer look at the e-mail, it’s sent to the ENTIRE TEAM! Now, how do you fix that?
Solution for Workplace Email
First thing – NEVER, EVER send an e-mail when you’re angry or in a strong emotional state. It just isn’t worth it. You will say things you don’t mean and words written down are very difficult to recant. Microsoft Outlook has a feature that allows you to recall messages – but normally it will only work if the receiver hasn’t already read the message and if they allow it. It doesn’t happen magically without anyone knowing.
Next – set a delay on your e-mail to something like 15 minutes, so that it checks the server every 15 minutes and only then will it send or receive any new mail items. This gives you some grace time.
Here is how to do this.
From Microsoft Outlook go to TOOLS, then OPTIONS and select MAIL SETUP from the tab.
Next, click on SEND/Receive… BUTTON:
Set the “Schedule an automatic send/receive every” setting to any number that you like. I’ve set mine to 15 minutes but I can still force send by pressing the Send/Receive button on the Outlook toolbar.
Note that I am using Outlook 2007.
Third – REMOVE the names in the “TO” field.
Remember (and I tell this to my team all the time) – what you say in an e-mail is there forever. Over the last few years, we’ve seen what happens when companies delete e-mails, so many companies will archive e-mails and keep them for an indefinate period of time.
I keep all my e-mails, with the exception of SPAM or other automated reports. I can go back to when I first started at my present employer and pull out e-mails.
Voice Mail Problems
I hate to admit to this one, but I made this mistake – ONCE. It will never happen again.
I get a voice mail from one of my developers, saying that they are having problems getting a hold of the Business Analyst for the project and that they have some questions. Rather than listen to the entire message, I happily forward it to the analyst. Bad move. The first part of the message was nice. The last half was very critical of the analyst.
Now while there might have been truth to the message, it wasn’t the best move on my part.
The simple solution – listen to the ENTIRE message before you decide to send it to anyone.
What happened in this case? I met with the analyst, and the developer and we talked it out. All ended well, but was it ever embaressing for everyone involved!
The developer learned – NEVER, EVER leave nasty voice messages.
The analyst learned – REPLY to your e-mails and voice messages in a timely manner.
I learned – Listen to the ENTIRE message before it’s forwarded to anyone.
In todays business environment, e-mail and voice mail and even instant messaging play an important part in communications and as such we need to be even more diligent in what we are sending out. A message spoken may have more or less impact that an e-mail – however an e-mail is a permanent record of what was said, and you can’t try and explain the meaning of the message to anyone – the message is black and white (unless of course you try to be coy in your message).
Protect your reputation in the workplace - don’t send an e-mail when you are in a charged emotional state, clear the TO field or better yet – leave the e-mail and respond when you’ve had a chance to cool off. Voice mails – listen, listen, and listen.
I’ve not even touched on the dozens of ways you can ruin your reputation through the use of social media like Facebook, MySpace or the dozens of other social networks out there — including image hosting services like Flickr.
We’ll leave social media and Web 2.0 for another post but let me leave you with something I found while looking for an appropriate image to add as part of this post:
Everything that you post on any site can effect your online reputation for better or worse. People may become more attracted to you and be willing to listen to anything you have to say or may ignore your from there on out, regardless of the quality of the content you add to the community. It is for that reason, that in this Web 2.0 world where interaction and user input is key, that you never let your reputation come under fire. This can only be accomplished by being critical of any material you choose to add to the web. Otherwise, the reputation of 1000 days could be tarnished by a single post.
image & source of the quote - http://beyondtheonewayweb.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/a-final-note/