Is Your Reputation Flying Blind?

BAT 2One evening I heard my husband yelling from his office that there was a bat flying around.  Thinking he had finally lost it, I walked in only to see that there actually was a bat feverishly circling the ceiling.  Shocked, I grabbed my sleeping cat who responded to my screaming by permanently implanting her claws into my arms.  When the Animal Control officer arrived, he found a dead bat in a hanging lighting fixture, but claimed it had been there for some time. This isn’t reassuring when you suddenly realize you are now sharing your living quarters with wild, scary creatures.  He suggested we contact our local Wildlife Rescue group to discover the source of entrance for the bats.  Needless to say it doesn’t encourage restful sleep.  It did, however, give me plenty of time to compose my obituary from my impending death by rabies.

The Wildlife Rescue guy, also called ‘Batman,’ was very thorough in his inspection but didn’t discover the bats’ entry spot, and so chalked it up to an isolated incident.  I must say I can’t remember when I’ve met someone so passionate about his work, which I told him as I politely declined to view his vast bat photo collection.

On Christmas Day, we returned home from a family dinner and I went upstairs to change my clothes.  Suddenly I heard this whooshing sound and sure enough there he was, Bat #2.  It was hard to control my screaming as I charged downstairs.  Once again, I called Animal Control reaching a female officer who said she was on her way.  As her truck pulled up, I suddenly realized I had no pants on!  I sent my husband upstairs to the ‘bat’ room to bring anything that would cover me, fashion be damned.  When the officer arrived she was all of 5’ and carried a huge net. We had to loan her a step stool to catch the bat!  Okay, now you can’t make this stuff up, but her name was Robin!   As Robin left she declares “You have a problem!”  Wow, her perception was uncanny.

While waiting for Batman’s next appointment, I mentioned our bat dilemma to my neighbor who replied, “I love bats!” Stunned, she began to educate me on the beneficial aspects of bats — the largest being they are ‘natural bug consumers.’  Did you know they can catch up to 600 mosquitos in an hour! The downside — that’s a lot of bat guano being inconveniently deposited somewhere. In fact, that’s exactly how Batman found their hiding place in the attic. He smelled  ‘em out.

These useful little creatures also pollinate plants and can fly up to 10,000 ft. in the air.  And, in case you’re wondering, they are not blind!   Turns out they are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet.  It’s not hard to understand why they get such a bad rap.  Don’t get me wrong — I still don’t care for the little critters, but after some research I see their redeeming qualities.  They are, after all, incapable of telling their own story.

What about you?  Are you letting others tell your story?  Do you know how you are being perceived?  In other words, do you know your reputation?  The best strategy to managing your career reputation in today’s environment is simply this — to know what it is about you that people expect from you and that differentiates you from others.   This can be a challenge for most workers who don’t know how others see them or what they truly contribute to the organization overall.  The worker whose mantra is ‘I’ll do whatever they tell me’ or ‘I’m a hard worker and dedicated’ is ironically putting himself at risk of being downsized.  Secondly, this ostensibly convenient ‘keep-your-head-down’ theme keeps workers from experiencing their potential.  Granted, there is always work that needs to be done, but what about when that work changes (as it always does)?  Many employees aren’t developing their skills or competencies fast enough to keep up with the changes within their organization, thus creating a one-way ticket to the exit.

If you don’t want to be left on the sidelines, you need to show the value you can deliver to the overall mission of the company.  By the way, do you know the brand attributes of your company?  According to Gallup surveys, only 41% of employees do.  Can you show examples of that work when talking to your superiors?  Do others in the organization know what you do and what you stand for? In other words, do you know your reputation?  Too many people are hesitant to show their authentic selves during work time for fear it might not match their company’s expectations.  Yet, that leaves the employee hiding in her cubicle with her head dutifully down; and believe me, staying in the dark may work for bats and mushrooms, but, well you get the picture.

Here’s a suggestion … look at your company’s pressing needs outside your own functional group.  Is there an area of expertise you could provide to another group to help them solve an issue or problem?  Providing solutions outside your own area is a first great step to building a broader foundation for relationships and visibility.  In addition, it’s a huge confidence builder!  After a while, you won’t bat an eyelash at all the wonderful feedback you’re receiving!

I would most appreciate your comments and remarks.  See below.

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