People make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are bad enough to cost us the respect of those around us or even our jobs. If you’ve made a bad professional error or hurt colleagues at work, though, the damage might not be permanent. You can put the past behind you, but you’ll have to work hard to rebuild relationships, become a model worker, and, in some cases, manage your reputation online.
How you're perceived at work is crucial to your success. While you're not always going to please everyone, developing a bad reputation can hold you back from getting the job, pay raise or new project you've been eyeing.
Accurately assessing how others see you can be a challenge. But if you find yourself feeling stuck at work, with no sign of new responsibilities or a future promotion, chances are your reputation might need a makeover.
- Admit your mistake.
If you’ve damaged your reputation – wronging a coworker, angering your boss, or just getting an overall bad name – the place to start is to own up to it. Admit the error of your ways. Take stock of your actions and accept responsibility for them, to yourself and in front of others.
2. Take stock of how people see you
To start, conduct an autopsy on your performance so far. Do you consistently deliver the bare minimum` Do you come across as disengaged with your work` Have you missed key deadlines that led to your manager writing you off`
All of these behaviors can contribute to you earning an "embedded reputation," which according to Suzy Welch defines as "an organizational verdict that you've reached your professional upper limit." "You have to ask trusted colleagues for the cold, hard truth," she explains. "Implore them to be candid. Yes, these conversations might be painful. But you can't fix your reputation problem until you define it."
3.Change your approach
And in order to change how your boss and colleagues view you, Welch says it's essential that you change your approach to work. Once you've identified the source of your reputation ills, your next job is to deliver one positive surprise after another," she says.
Study up on research and industry trends to demonstrate you're capable of more than you've been doing. If you've seemed disengaged, volunteer to work on a high-profile strategic initiative. If you're known for missing deadlines, make every effort to deliver work ahead of schedule.
4. Demonstrate your willingness to learn
"Part of your change initiative might require learning new skills and acquiring credentials," she says. "Enroll in a class, get a certification or maybe even earn a graduate degree."
Regardless of what you decide to do, Welch says now is not the time to be shy. "Let your manager and teammates know you're not done growing," she adds. "Show them how and why you're investing in your future."
5. Commit to reform.
Besides an apology, write out a plan for how you’ll change and ensure your mistake doesn’t happen again. This can be for you alone or, if you’re lucky to keep your job, to share with the powers that be in the organization.
Outline what you did wrong and how you will avoid it. For example, “I made the mistake of getting too involved in workplace gossip and ended up saying harmful things about my coworkers. From now on, I plan to keep my head down, mind my own business, and avoid office politics.”
Don’t forget to “walk the walk” and follow your plan. You might arrange regular check-ins with your boss, for instance, to discuss your behavior. This will highlight your progress as well as show that you are willing and able to reform.
6. Keep your attitude in check.
Repairing your reputation is going to be a humbling experience. You might feel angry or resentful. You might get annoyed, frustrated, or upset. Keep these emotions under control – you’ve had a bad attitude in the past and need others to see that you’re trying to change.
Try to stay calm, collected, and positive.
Be aware of the attitudes or emotions that added to your bad behavior in the past. Try to avoid them or situations that bring them out. If your problem is gossip, avoid the office gossipers as best you can.
Stop and ask yourself throughout the day, “How’s my attitude` Am I positive` Am I productive`” Catch any problems early and try to readjust your mindset.
7. Get to work early.
Apart from apologies and repairing relationships, set yourself up as a model employee to help you rebuild your work reputation. Be a go-getter. Arrive early and ready to impress. People will eventually start to notice.
Getting to work early will make a good impression on your boss and perhaps your coworkers. Often, people aren’t around to see who leaves the office last. But they will notice your presence in the morning.
Being early also means you don’t have to rush around. Use the quiet time to your advantage and plan out your day.
It doesn’t hurt to take a short walk around the office first thing in the morning. People will see you and take note.