Developing a compelling personal brand image still remains essential to winning and keeping management’s faith. Since the massive downsizing wave that swept the 1990’s, management has begun to suffer the same pains as the blue collar workers. Everyone is overworked and unable to focus entirely on any one thing. Professional development in the corporation has transformed into personal development. In other words, management doesn’t have time to help you develop your career. Sure, they’ll take a few minutes to help you jot down your goals but it won’t go much further than that. Employees don’t get the kind of attention nowadays that helps develop careers. The best way to promote yourself is to promote your brand.
Personal brand value should be managed by focusing on the creation of your manager equity. Too many times employees focus on creating value for themselves. They engage in activities that they think will increase their value to the organization. Maybe they work longer hours per week or learn new skills to increase their productivity. These types of performance are valuable in that they give your manager less to worry about. However, they don’t do a great deal to increase your equity. Technology has already ushered in an improvement in productivity and unfortunately longer work hours. Everyone is getting better at these so you won’t necessarily be distancing yourself from the competition by improving them. Building manager equity will require a change in mindset. Your actions should not seek to make you look better but make the managers look better. Here are a few questions you should consider in developing the manager equity mindset:
- Do your decisions on what to work on take into consideration what you need or what your manager needs?
- Do your efforts focus on key managers and building their loyalty and trust in your abilities?
- Do you focus on resolving some of their problems?
- Do you identify the skills that managers seem to appreciate most? Do you focus on improving them to be your equity?
- Do you change your efforts to cater to each manager in hopes of maximizing their satisfaction?
Managing your brand equity not only requires an ability to modify it but to also measure it. Gauging how others value you and your contributions is always difficult since most managers will avoid being brutally honest about what they think you contribute to the company. This can be avoided by using your friends and trusted colleagues to probe your managers for what they really think. Use their feedback to adjust your strategy. For example, if your assessment team identifies that managers are disappointed in your ability to lead projects, take a look at your history and understand why they feel that way. Then, improve it.
It’s important to remember that brand equity is subjective. Not only will different managers value your brand differently, the same efforts that improve your equity with one manager may have little effect on another. Your efforts can increase or decrease it. Therefore, it becomes critical to understand what drives each manager’s equity. Awareness is one essential element in how they develop equity and the easiest to manage.
Lastly, don’t try to influence their perception of you alone. The most reliable information managers use to learn about you is the advice from others. Tooting your own horn is good but endorsements from others can carry a lot more weight and serves to validate your abilities. Luckily, the same team you use to learn how well you are developing your equity can also sing your praises and improve your brand equity at the same time.
Todd Rhoad is a Senior Program Manager at Symtx Inc. He has served numerous management roles in profit, non-profit, private and public organizations. He’s the creator of the Blitz Approach to getting ahead in your career. Todd holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration. You can see more and read more at blog.myspace.com/toddrhoad.