Your personal style in the workplace significantly influences the perception that people have of you. Moreover, it rolls up into being your brand or personal image. Often perceptions that people have of you are very one-sided and heavily affected by one negative or positive characteristic which is the so-called “halo effect”, which is one of the biases that people have when forming perceptions of others.
You can definitely influence how people perceive you. You need to adjust your personal style to build your personal brand in the workplace and in your personal life the same way as Coca Cola and Amazon builds theirs. You can be anything you want to be and make people think anything you would like them to.
You just need to consciously manage your personal brand. It must be of the highest caliber, consistent and credible. You can call it your personal style, your personal image, or personal brand. It does not matter. Everyone has one and you need to control your own.
What is your personal brand in the workplace? Your personal brand in the workplace is the way you establish and reinforce, in the eyes of your colleagues, who you are and what you stand for in your professional life. It is the unique combination of your skills, personality, experience, the way you dress, the way you look and carry yourself, perceived actions. It is the impression other people formed about you. Every action you take either strengthens or weakens your personal brand in the workplace.
Below are six ideas that can significantly help you build your personal style and, hence, your personal brand.
You probably noticed when you join a new company or when you start a degree at university, a perception about who you are and what you are capable of develops and is usually based on what you do over the very first few weeks or even days, and in some cases hours. Therefore, if you give everything you have over those first 6 months, you will lay a great foundation upon which to build your success.
Numerous studies have indicated that people prefer attractive and neat people. The way you dress, the way you walk and the way you communicate are all part of your personal brand and contributes to the way people see you. If you want to learn more about how to carry yourself, we have many programs that touch on that. The best programs to start with are How to Become a McKinsey Partner and How to Be Influential and Make an Impact. Both of these FC programs are led by the former McKinsey worldwide strategy practice co-leader, Kevin P. Coyne.
You need to always dress for your next job. If you are a business analyst in a consulting firm, dress as a consultant or even as a senior consultant or a manager. Even if more senior people in the workplace are dressed very casually, but the overall dress code is business casual, you should be dressed just a level higher than the majority of your colleagues and superiors.
This generally will show that you take your job and career seriously, that you are here to do business and you intend to go far in life. This sends a message that you come to work not to socialize and make friends but to bring great value to the company and the clients you serve. This will make you stand out.
Of course, there are exceptions. Some companies specifically stay away from a professional dress code. A good example is Google, employees of which follow a very casual dress code. However, even in that situation pay attention to how successful people a level or two above you generally dress and emulate their dress code.
In most cases, this guideline will make you stand out and get noticed. Of course, your other actions, such as the quality of your work are also vital ingredients of your personal brand and should support your overall message of excellence.
THERE IS ONE IMPORTANT WORD OF CAUTION. Dressing well must make you feel better internally and present a confident and positive message. Never ever confuse dressing better for acting better than your co-workers. Your professional dressing will generate attention, so it is very important you go out of your way to indicate that this is your preferred dressing style only and you DO NOT think you are better than your co-workers. Show this in your actions and be sincere about it. If you dress well but act better than your co-workers then you will harm your reputation.
Your personal brand should be aligned with helping you to build a reputation of credibility, competence, and reliability. Your superiors need to know that if there is trouble and they need someone reliable and competent, they should go to you.
Also, ensure you protect your reputation. Remember you don’t always have an opportunity to explain yourself. So, always look at yourself from the third-person perspective and think about how it will come across to someone observing you. For example, if a colleague asks you to do a coffee meeting at 10 am and prefers to sit on a bench next to your offices while chatting, think carefully how it will come across to passing by colleagues. They may think that you are slacking off. So it is better to meet with your colleague in a place where, if someone sees you, it will not damage your reputation.
Staying true to your word must be an important part of your personal brand. Take on only what you can handle and feel free to renegotiate deadlines, where necessary and where possible. Your personal brand must clearly show that you are someone who takes requests and promises seriously.
Your attitude should be one that if you promised to do something – you will do everything in your power to ensure that it gets done, one way or another. For example, if you promised to deliver a certain document by the deadline, and an unexpected and more important assignment came up, you need to do everything you can to find someone to do the deliverable for you, and be accountable for its quality.
After you find such a person, you need to approach your superior and confirm with them if they feel comfortable with the other person taking responsibility for the deliverable that you were assigned to do.
If you have done everything you could to find someone and there is just nobody available then you can approach your superior and describe the situation. He or she may then make a decision on how best to proceed.
The bottom line is, you need to be proactive, reliable, and feel ultimately accountable for any work you promise to do. Keeping your word must be seen by others as an important ingredient of your personal brand. It is also important to be consistent in your personal brand across different parts of your life, which includes your personal style in your relationships outside of work.
This simple technique can help you greatly in establishing an image of competence and excellence. Furthermore, this technique is useful in any area of your life: in your studies, in your career, and in your personal life. By following this simple rule, you will consistently exceed people’s expectations and will, therefore, have the reputation of someone who routinely exceeds expectations.
The above ideas are really important and rarely implemented. If you will adapt it to enhance your personal brand, this alone will set you apart from the crowd.
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