I recently wrote a blog on the topic of reputation risk management for my corporate blog (which will be published as a full featured article in the August edition of Security Solutions Magazine). This article got me thinking of how the principles of corporate reputation risk management can be applied to your personal brand. This articles explores the topic of reputation risk management and the personal brand.
A quote I used in the article was by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin said, "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it." I couldn't have said it better myself. When developing your personal brand it is important to take your reputation into consideration at all times. This in essences is the over arching concept of the personal brand. Now lets answer the questions, "how do you manage the reputation risk to your personal brand?"
To manage the risk to your personal brand's reputation, you must understand your personal assets that are subject to threats. In this case, the asset to consider is your reputation itself. We know that, as it is the asset which we are protecting. So lets examine the sub-assets which make our reputation. In order to understand this concept we should define assets. Assets are any tangible or intangible item that brings you value.
In terms of reputation these can include:
a) Your Physical Appearance
b) Your Time Management Skills
c) Your Work Quality
Your Physical AppearanceMad Men's Don Draper is the current pop-culture example of someone who takes their personal appearance in the professional environment very serious. He manages the risk of an inappropriate personal appearance by going as far as keeping extra shirts in his desk drawer. This may not be appropriate for your circumstances, but if you are a Mad Men fan you will notice Mr. Draper's appearance is always to notch and a threat he has placed mitigating controls against.
In regards to physical appearance, I am not suggesting you must wear a suit everyday (though, it may not hurt given your position), but that what you where and how you present your self is a major part of your personal brand. Our clothes can almost be viewed as our logo in regards to our personal brand. It is the first thing that communicates to our colleagues and clients when meeting in person.
I suggest you assess the message your physical appearance sends, and make sure it is in line with your personal band in order to mitigate against damage to your reputation.
Your Time Management SkillsThe ability to manage your assigned workload and get results in a timely manner is a direct representation of your reputation. In order to implement controls against poor time management, you will need to implement a time management program of some sorts. For me, I have created my own, that is a hybrid of the many programs out there. I always keep a task list. I review the task list as soon as I get to my desk. The first thing I do is handle all task that take less than five minutes and do not require any type of approval beyond my authority. The next step is to "swallow the frog." Another Benjamin Franklin concept. Swallowing the frog involves completing the most difficult, dreaded, or challenging task first. I follow this concept because it frees my mind from thinking about the task throughout the entire work day. Managing your time and staying productive is a key success factor to managing risk associated with your personal brand's reputation.
Your Work QualityYour work is a direct representation of your brand. Do you offer high quality work, that is completed effectively and efficiently? When you completed a project, a deliverable, or even write an email, you are producing your personal brands product. When completing your work you can implement mitigating controls that protect your brand. For me, I always have a trusted colleague review emails, reports, or technical data to ensure I am properly stating the facts. Next, I always ensure I meet deadlines (see above comments). Finally, I always define expectations, manage expectations, and exceed expectations.
The process of defining expectations, managing expectations, and exceeding expectations is something I have followed since the first grade. I have always ensured I understand the client's, teacher's, or supervisor's expectations. I do this by reading directions, listening to comments, and asking questions. From there, I assess my own capabilities. An example of this came up in a recent meeting. I was asked to redesign our webpage. I have no website design skills and little experience with editing websites. I simply informed my boss that I am comfortable with guiding the process, but in no means am I an expert. I stated that this was a case where saving money means higher an expert to do it right the first time (more on this later). By doing this, I managed my boss's expectations. That is, if I am responsible for the website design, it is going to be the best I can do at my amateur status.
Finally, exceeding expectations. This is only possible if you understand the expectations and the expectations have been managed properly. One note I would like to add, is that it is essential to not exceed expectations outside of the objectives, strategy, or scope of the project in question. Doing this would be a waste of your time and resources. The last thing you want is to have your tagline from others be, "Matt does great work, but it is never really in line with the objectives."
Reputation risk management is one of the many corporate strategies that can be applied to our own personal brand. What other strategies do you suggest for protecting your personal brand's reputation?