Human Resources Management Articles on a variety of HR topics, Diversity and inclusion, leadership and more, offered by the Red Shoe Movement

How to give constructive feedback to a colleague effectively

As a Human Resources Executive, people frequently ask me: How can I give constructive feedback to a colleague without hurting them? Today I share with you how to do it successfully.

There’s no doubt that our current networks of multidisciplinary and diverse teams enrich our work and promote innovative solutions. The constant interaction with others to reach common goals, however, has its own challenges. One of them is evidenced when we know a colleague could benefit from some constructive feedback about a behavior that affects their work, and we don’t know the best way to deliver it.

One of the Red Shoe Movement’s 7 Principles is anchored around the value of feedback. It encourages us to give honest feedback to other women in our network avoiding hurtful or unnecessary criticism. And the core RSM methodology (the RSM Circles,) is partly based on ongoing feedback among colleagues.

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

In fact, due to our social nature, humans tend to look for external validation and are motivated by what others have to say. There is plenty of research around this. One survey conducted this year by the international leadership consulting firm Zenger/Folkman found out that 65% of the people surveyed would like to receive more feedback, and 57% said they preferred to get feedback about what they need to improve rather than what they do well.

To give effective feedback is one of the most generous gifts one can offer a colleague. To give feedback in a constructive way, however, you must keep in mind certain rules. The secret for feedback to be delivered effectively can be found in the answer to these three questions.

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

1Is my colleague open to receiving feedback?

The first thing to consider when thinking about giving feedback to a peer is whether they are emotionally open to receiving it, particularly if your feedback is about something that they need to improve or change in the future. Despite a positive intent to help, your feedback might be touching on a sensitive topic. It is worth noting that often at work we get to know only one aspect of the other person’s reality. We are usually unaware of other areas of their personal history, past experiences, beliefs, and limitations. That’s why it’s important, s to ask if the other person is open to feedback. Here’s how you could frame the question,, “Louise, I have some observations related to the presentation you gave on Monday. Would you be interested in discussing them?”

2Do I have specific and objective information to give constructive feedback?

If our colleague is willing to receive feedback, it is important to offer it properly. For that to happen you must have thorough information about the situation you wish to address in order to frame it correctly. The more objective and specific the information you have, the better. Try to avoid vague observations that will not allow the other person to know what they need to change moving forward. For example, avoid a comment such as, “Louise, I think your behavior is unprofessional in team meetings”. This type of feedback is not only too generic but also it focuses on personality, which will make the other person more defensive and less likely to hear what you have to say. The correct way to give constructive feedback would be: “Louise, I noticed that in team meetings you tend to speak over other people which is not well received and affects the mood of the meeting.”

3Is my feedback constructive and will it help my colleague improve?

The third Red Shoe Movement Principle talks about the spirit in which feedback should be offered. “Provide honest feedback to the women in your network and avoid hurtful comments or unnecessary criticism.” Emotions play an important role in giving and receiving feedback. My advice is to keep them under control, especially if you are giving feedback around a behavior that has frustrated you in the past. When it comes to non-verbal communication, it is better to sit side by side (to level the playing field,) speak in a direct and pleasant tone of voice and be aware of the other person‘s reactions to your words. If you notice that your feedback is not being well received, invite your colleague to express their own point of view rather than imposing yours. For example, you could say something like: “Louise, I can see that you have a different view of the situation. Would you like to share your point of view?”

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Giving feedback to a colleague who is a peer requires certain level of maturity and sensitivity to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings or negatively impacting the working relationship. You should not refrain from offering honest feedback, however, since doing so could deny your colleague of a valuable learning lesson and an opportunity to adjust professional competencies that could contribute to their future growth. Genuine, timely feedback that is delivered properly can not only work magic for the professional development of your colleague but also strengthen your working relationship. After all, taking the time to give constructive feedback to your peers is a concrete demonstration of your interest in their career success.

 

RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles— The Secret of Our Success

I believe that everyone has something to teach and something to learn at the same time.  At this one-of-a-kind event (no speakers or panelists) our RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles speak for themselves!

Nobody knows everything and everyone knows something. Understanding that we learn from each other in a reciprocal fashion at all times is the first step to growing together. And a powerful incentive to engage with your colleagues for mutual career support.

The power and effectiveness of mutual mentoring surpasses anything you could get from a one-directional mentoring relationship. When both people clearly benefit they both invest in the relationship equally. In other words, leveling the playing field does wonders for everyone involved. Today I share why our mutual mentoring methodology, which infuses our RSM Signature Event, is so successful.

Here's a post on coaching and mentoring to clarify some of the different relationship options.

 

 

At our latest RSM Signature Event, MetLife Conference Center. A partial group of attendees.

At our latest RSM Signature Event, MetLife Conference Center. A partial group of attendees.

Our Mutual Mentoring Methodology

The belief that in life we are all learners and teachers is at the core of our methodology and permeates everything we do. That’s what makes our programs and our events so different and so effective. This methodology is behind our annual Step Up Plus leadership development program during which participants set up RSM Circles in their organizations.  And it’s the centerpiece of our Onsite and Signature events. It helps to make our training self-sustaining.

At the core of our methodology: we are constantly learning from each other. Mutual Mentoring is where it's at.

At the core of our methodology: we are constantly learning from each other. Mutual Mentoring is where it’s at.

Experiential leadership: RSM Signature Event

After months of preparation, the Red Shoe Movement Signature Event 2016 at MetLife Conference Center in Bryant Park, NYC, was gone in a flash. It is an unusual kind of event. No speakers or panelists. No “topic experts.” Our RSM Mutual Mentoring Circles speak for themselves. Literally.

Like many professionals, I’ve attended my fair share of conferences and leadership events throughout my career. Maybe a bit more often than doctors would recommend given that, as a speaker, this is what I do for a living.

There are many outstanding events out there where you are exposed to great, new ideas and make powerful connections. Conferences where you listen to industry leaders and get inspired by amazing role models. Yet, after years of participating both as an attendee and as a speaker, I felt that there was room for a more experiential conference. A professional event the nature of which would elicit curiosity, self-discovery, and empowerment. An exciting experience that would shed light on individuals’ interests and passions, and that would reveal areas of knowledge they weren’t aware of.

So when I founded the Red Shoe Movement, I set out to design a completely different type of leadership event. I wanted to create a situation where people could actually learn from each other. I particularly wanted women to realize how much more they know than they give themselves credit for. I craved an event where the attendees would be the real protagonists. Where there wouldn’t be a division between “the experts” and “the participants.”

We achieved our goal of leveling the playing field at our conference by putting into practice our mutual mentoring philosophy.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: How to Have a Difficult Conversation led by Lily Benjamin

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: How to Have a Difficult Conversation led by Lily Benjamin

How does the mutual mentoring methodology achieve positive results?

Our event features two rounds of Mutual Mentoring Circles (RSM Circles) where people alternate between playing the role of the expert and the explorer. The facilitator’s role is to keep the conversation going.

This methodology demands that people participate actively, invest plenty of skin in the game, reveal their curiosity about different career concerns, and ask the relevant questions for their own careers that nobody else could ask. The methodology also requires that people share their knowledge and experiences with others, even when they failed. This openness creates a level of trust that fosters a candid exchange. The payoff is huge.

Practically all participants say they walk away with insights that they can immediately apply to their jobs. These are not a list of tips they could get off the Internet. They are insights people discover about themselves that generate behavioral and attitudinal changes. The best part is that once internalized, the mutual mentoring methodology carries beyond the RSM Signature Event.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: Your Brand Already Exists, facilitated by Cosette Gutiérrez.

Mutual Mentoring Circle topic: Your Brand Already Exists, facilitated by Cosette Gutiérrez.

Granted, this approach is not for everyone. Our feedback surveys often reveal a few people who would have preferred “topic experts” to facilitate our Mutual Mentoring Circles. Having speakers who present their topics with a Power Point. Panel discussions. Facilitators who capture key learnings on flip charts. And there’s nothing wrong with preferring that kind of conference. It’s just not what we do.

Our Facilitators

From Left to Right (standing, kneeling and standing): Stephen Palacios, Jolanta Kordowski, Johanna Torres, Mariela Dabbah, Cosette Gutiérrez, Ali Curi and Lily Benjamin.

From Left to Right (standing, kneeling and standing): Stephen Palacios, Jolanta Kordowski, Johanna Torres, Mariela Dabbah, Cosette Gutiérrez, Ali Curi and Lily Benjamin.

Our RSM Circles’ facilitators are high-level executives from large organizations who honor us with their participation. They are specifically trained in our methodology. Their mandate during these conversations is to leave their “expert hat” at the door and to adopt the role of the curious explorer. An experience they cherish so much, they keep coming back year after year to facilitate at this annual conference.

This year’s star facilitators were:

Lily Benjamin, SVP, Leadership Development & Transformation, U.S. Trust, Bank of America.

Ali Curi, President, Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG.)

Cosette Gutiérrez, VP, Operations & Social Responsibility, DonorsChoose.org.

Jolanta Kordowski, AVP, Organizational Effectiveness, MetLife.

Stephen Palacios, General Manager, VP, Lieberman Research Worldwide.

Johanna Torres, Editor-in-Chief, MamasLatinas.com.

Action planning session and beyond

After two rounds of Mutual Mentoring Circles, our event attendees participate in an insightful Action Planning session. It’s the chance to put pen to paper and work through some concrete career goals. After all the conversations that have been taking place, it’s time for some introspection. And then, everyone has the opportunity to partner with someone to practice mutual mentoring after the day’s activities come to an end.

Setting up career goals during the Action Planning Session

Setting up career goals during the Action Planning Session

Our Q&A with a top female leader

In addition to our Mutual Mentoring Circles, for our RSM Signature Event we invite a successful leader to share how she made it to where she is in her career. And you couldn’t ask for a more candid leader than Marta L. Tellado. Marta shared the career trajectory that led to her current position as CEO of Consumer Reports, the largest consumer advocacy organization in the world. Ali Curi interviewed her and then turned it over to the audience. And in typical Red Shoe Movement fashion, we then had Marta ask questions of the audience. This is how mutual mentoring works. An even playing field at all times. As an explorer, what did Marta want to ask the audience? “What do you find most fascinating and most challenging about the American corporate culture?”

Ali Curi interviews Marta Tellado, CEO, Consumer Reports

Ali Curi, President HPNG,  interviews Marta Tellado, CEO, Consumer Reports

The fun part

Alexandra Contreras of Colgate-Palmolive picks up her Farylrobin shoes (while wearing another pair she won last year!)

Alexandra Contreras of Colgate-Palmolive picks up her Farylrobin shoes (while wearing another pair she won last year!)

And of course, we wouldn’t be true to our name if there weren’t some actual shoes involved, right? So to help more people celebrate #RedShoeTuesday, we gave away dozens of pairs of red shoes during early registration and at the event. They were two styles specially designed for the Red Shoe Movement by our great partner, Farylrobin.

We also raffled LolaRamona shoes and, this year for the first time, we gave away red ties! As the number of male attendees grows, we want to make sure they have the right accessory to support women’s career growth in style.

Winner of a Cyberoptix tie

Winner of a Cyberoptix tie

It’s been a fabulous year! And next year will be even better. I can’t wait to see you at our next event!

Testimonials of our attendees

Hear first hand what participants had to say about the event.

If you want to bring this level of engagement to your organization, let us know. Our RSM Onsite Event is the in-company version of the RSM Signature Event. ‘Till next time!

Art of Self-Promotion – Principles, Strategies & Your Script

The art of self-promotion, is essential for success. Find out the main principles that rule this leadership competency, the winning strategies and how to create an influential conversation about your value.

In my last self-promotion post we discussed how essential a leadership competency it is. Today, I’m sharing with you insights on the art of self-promotion than few people reveal. Let’s get started.

Part of mastering the art of self-promotion is to learn to include the contributions of others as you naturally weave-in yours in a conversation.

Part of mastering the art of self-promotion is to learn to include the contributions of others as you naturally weave-in yours in a conversation.

Principles to Help you Embrace the Art of Self-Promotion

The art of self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand. And in order to brand yourself you must first understand your personality, passions, interests, and talents. Performance alone won’t speak for itself. Self-promotion is a leadership competency that is essential for communicating your talent and establishing your credibility.

  1. First, ‘know thyself’ – Understand your personal value proposition. Authenticity is the foundation of the art of self-promotion. It provides you with the confidence you need to communicate the value you add to the organization. A little later, I will provide an exercise to allow you to write a clear script that identifies your strengths in ways that speak to the language of business outcomes. Your personal value proposition should be complimentary to the business needs, and in alignment with others’ goals and interests. Including others on your self-promotion formula can help you minimize, or avoid, resentment. Your personal value proposition should encompass past achievements, current impact, and future potential contributions.
  1. No one climbs Everest alone – There is a myth that self-promotion means to advocate for oneself. In other words that it’s about stating ‘just the facts/ just MY facts’. But the reality is that there are a variety of different methods you can use to showcase your talents. Speaking about your teams’ accomplishments is another effective way to expand your own leadership and gain visibility. By doing so, you indirectly showcase your judgment, decision-making skills, and contributions while you promote others.

5 Key Strategies to Ace the Art of Self-Promotion

To strategically, and healthily self-promote, as well as endorse and promote others consider these actions:

1Personal Board of Directors (Sponsor, Mentor, and a Peer Advisor): Create a group of support to ensure you have people with your best interest in mind who can help you build and promote your personal brand. Personal branding is about people’s perception of you. Of the image you project. You don’t need to do it alone. Your Sponsor is a champion, your Mentor is a guide, and your Peer Advisor is a consultant that sees you in action and gives you feedback to keep you honest and in alignment with your goals.

  • Sponsor: strategically seek the support and championship of someone with a position of authority and visibility to help you build awareness of your accomplishments. Someone who believes in you and fights for your legacy.
  • Mentor: strategically select someone to advice you on how to navigate the culture of the organization, identify key relationships to foster, and coach you on how to be effective. Someone who encourages and guides you to take calculated risks (such as accepting stretch assignment to display your potential.) Someone who can celebrate your boldness and who helps you recover when something doesn’t go as planned.
  • Peer Advisor: choose a colleague with whom you have frequent interactions and sees you perform in most aspects of your job. This is a person with a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities, including your cross-functional and multidisciplinary expertise. This person also needs to be clear about your goals and the support and guidance your Sponsor and Mentor provide in order to give you just-in-time feedback on how you are doing. This person is your “guardian angel,” someone you trust enough to be vulnerable with.

2Networking: attend professional events and make strategic and meaningful connections. Seek opportunities to share and collaborate in these forums. Actions speak louder than words, assuming an active role in these forums (being a panelist, facilitating a workshop, committing to a speaking engagement, etc.,) will allow you the opportunities to display your talents. This is a chance for people to learn about you in an indirect and modest way. One last note: Make sure to reciprocate if you rely on other people to give you a boost!

3Buddy System: establish a group of colleagues or friends with a shared goal of supporting and promoting one another. (This is at the core of the Red Shoe Movement Principles and what their methodology is all about.) This could be done in meetings, social media, and professional networks. You can support the effort by publicizing each other’s wins. All of this can be done in the spirit of promoting one another, but also of sharing knowledge.

4Passive: this is a subtle way to “feature” your accomplishments. Display awards, prices, recognitions, important degrees or certification in strategic places in your workstation. When you do it in good taste it becomes a quiet endorsement of your brand. Keep a professional bio available. Have a concise, yet relevant profile describing your qualifications in social media platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, etc.

5Just the Facts: this is how most people know about self-promotion. But “just the facts” it’s not only about giving a “speech” where you talk about your accomplishments. Weaving the facts into a conversation can be a very effective yet subtle method of self-promotion. (See an example below.)

For your personal brand to have a positive impact it must be authentic. That provides the foundation to talk about your value.

For your personal brand to have a positive impact it must be authentic. That provides the foundation to talk about your value.

A Winning Script to Effectively Share Your Value

Now that you have the principles and the strategies, here is a suggested three-prong self-promotion script to help you effectively communicate and showcase “just the facts.”

  1. State the current paradigm (the business challenge and/ or potential )
  2. Determine how to introduce the challenge into a “boast.”
  3. Make the boast, and give credit where credit is due!

Example of a Three-Prong Self-Promotion Script:

Rebecca, I just successfully closed the mega-deal with XYZ Company we’ve been working on for sixe months. It was not easy, as they are strong negotiators, but with the support of our research team, I drove home a $10 million dollars deal.

Notice the emphasis on your strength in handling a difficult negotiation, the inclusion of your team, and your ability to close a deal that will have a great impact on the bottom-line.

Final Words on Self-Promotion

Self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand

Self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand so it’s critical to understand who you are before you talk about your value.

The art of self-promotion is critical for one’s success no matter what your position in the organization. A word of advice, it takes practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect and it gives you confidence. Think about this: Professional salespeople make hundreds of sales calls a day. This constant repetition makes selling less scary. Similarly, the more you practice, the more natural your self-promoting becomes.

Remember to talk about outcomes, be matter-of-fact, make your self-promotion relevant, draw future applications, and individualize your accomplishments while including others!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Diversity at Work: How Things Are Changing

Cultural diversity at work has become a battleground for innovation in organizations large and small. Don’t miss key insights from Stephen Palacios, who’s been conducting research on the topic for the last 15 years.

Stephen has particularly deep experience in the multicultural space and leads that practice at Lieberman Research Worldwide (LRW.) He also has extensive experience in brand positioning and brand strategy development. He is a national speaker, and has been an editorial contributor to AdAge and HuffingtonPost. His work has been cited in the NYTimes, LATimes, Financial Times, ABC, PBS and many other programs and publications. We appreciate the fact that for the last several years, Stephen has been working with women’s publications such as Essence and People En Español to better understand professional, multicultural women. So, when it comes to cultural diversity at work, he has a lot to share.

Stephen Palacios, general manager and VP at Lieberman Research Worldwide sheds insights on cultural diversity at work

Stephen Palacios, general manager and VP at Lieberman Research Worldwide sheds insights on cultural diversity at work

Recent studies around cultural diversity at work

You’ve recently finished two major studies related to cultural diversity at work. Could you explain what they were centered around?

Working with Essence and with People En Español, both studies focused on African American Women at Work and Latinas at Work, respectively. These studies were the vision of Essence’s Michelle Ebanks and People En Español’s Monique Manso.

Understanding cultural diversity at work means learning to navigate conflicting priorities for each individual in your team.

Understanding cultural diversity at work means learning to navigate conflicting priorities for each individual in your team.

What were some of your biggest “aha” moments? Particularly in reference to cultural diversity at work?

Each study highlighted how significant the role of ethnic identity was in the workplace, for both the individual and her workplace non-ethnic counterparts. Both African American and Latinas have to contend with perceptions of their ethnicities. Whether it be trying to avoid being labeled an “angry Black woman” yet still being heard for an African American woman, or avoiding being seen as over sensualized for both Latinas and African American women, these stereotypes found in popular culture affect workplace dynamics for many ethnic women. Each study went into some depth on workplace communication styles, dress, cosmetics, and other factors of demeanor and appearance that were actively or less consciously being used to navigate cultural identity with workplace identity.

Don't miss "What Is Cultural Diversity?" to learn much more about this topic!

How are cultural norms changing for Latinas and how is this shift affecting them?

The biggest cultural norm shift for Latinas, as found in several Hispanic Opinion Tracker (HOT) Studies by People En Español, is the drive toward careerism. Latinas are obtaining higher education at unprecedented levels, and are entering the workforce with high expectations and ambitions. Their self stated priorities are shifting, as they see career in a more important light, even when compared to traditional roles of wife/mother. This shift is paradoxically creating tremendous optimism on what is possible but also creating cultural tension with their mothers and significant others. Latinas are coming into their own, and are finding it challenging to reconcile their ambition with their traditions.

How about African American women?  

African American women have been leading the charge on women’s issues in the labor force for over 40 years. Their workforce penetration, head of household status and educational achievement have always been lead indicators for women in the U.S. Having said this, they too have rising expectations on success in the workplace, with greater expectations of being their “authentic selves” at work. Expressions of cultural identity such as natural hair, style and more are coming to the fore more often. Black women, especially Millennials, are looking to have their identity recognized and valued more by their place of employment and their fellow employees.

What you need to know about Cultural Diversity Training. Does it work?
It's critical to understand cultural diversity norm shifts to support your team.

It’s critical to understand cultural diversity norm shifts to support your team.

Recommendations around cultural diversity at work

Do you have any recommendations to increase sensitivity towards cultural diversity at work? Mainly when it pertains to women of diverse backgrounds?

Employers would benefit greatly by understanding the cultural dynamics and tensions associated with their Black and Latina employees. Essence found 4 dominant communication styles for Black women at work in the study, each of which led to greater potential for retention and advancement, or not. Black women who understand these communication styles can better identify their personal approach to workplace dynamics. It is equally important that non-Hispanic White employees/employers to be aware of these styles as well. For so many non-Hispanic Whites, the issue of ethnic identity is rarely a factor of consideration in inter-office communication or office culture building – it needs to be.

Any suggestions on how employers can better engage multicultural women?

Start by reading these studies! They are (all modestly aside) insightful, comprehensive, but practical in their use. For non-Hispanic White employers/employees understanding the cultural identity better, devising strategies to celebrate the contribution ethnic employees can make, and incorporating this into an overall office culture is increasingly important. Particularly for those hiring Millennials, and for those in certain industries, e.g. Healthcare.

You can follow LRW on Twitter

More insights from the HOT study on Latinas.

Your personal brand already exists. Are you aware of it?

When I ask the members of our Step Up Plus program “what is your personal brand?” most of them stay quiet. They are not sure if I mean the 30-second elevator pitch or something else entirely.

The difference between a 30-second elevator pitch and your personal brand

Your 30-second elevator pitch is more like the ad you can thoughtfully put together to explain who you are, how you impact others, what you are good at, what your goals are, etc. The main difference between your elevator pitch and your personal brand is that you control 100% your pitch. You can’t control 100% of your personal brand because it’s lives in people’s heads.

Your personal brand is quite different from your 30-second elevator pitch.

Your personal brand is quite different from your 30-second elevator pitch.

What is your personal brand?

Simply put, your personal brand is how others perceive you. It’s the image other people have of you. Their experience of you. What makes up your reputation. A collage, if you will, of aspects including your:

  • Presence
  • Behavior
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Sense of humor
  • Speech patterns
  • Relationships
  • Ideas
  • Appearance

And a lot more. So, sure, there is certain amount of control you can exercise over people’s perception of you. You can adjust things like your behavior, the way in which you present your ideas, the kind of relationships you keep, and how you dress. But what about your personality, your sense of humor, or your deeply held values? Those are much harder to change.

Live by your word and you'll build a powerful reputation and memorable brand.

Live by your word and you’ll build a powerful reputation and memorable brand.

Here's a great video on personal branding.

Whether you want it or not, your personal brand already exists

So, why not finding out what it is. A simple, yet effective exercise to get a clear picture of how others perceive you is to conduct your own market research. Send a brief note to a group of 5-10 trusted colleagues, bosses, and even friends. The message should go something like this:

“I’m evaluating my personal brand and would appreciate your insights. Would you share with me the first few sentences or adjectives that come to mind when you think of me? For example: You are hardworking. You are punctual. You seldom join your colleagues for social events. You like to stick to what you know.”

By giving people clear examples of characteristics that are frequently considered positive and others that are not so positive, you show that you want honest answers. It makes people more likely to be open with you. Review the answers you receive and try not to take them to heart. Use them to inform you about your personal brand. Then ask yourself:

Figure out what makes you unique and sharpen your personal brand. You bring it everywhere with you whether you want it or not.

Figure out what makes you unique and sharpen your personal brand. You bring it everywhere with you whether you want it or not.

Do these answers fit with what I think of myself? And also, is this the type of personal brand I need to fulfill my current and future career goals?

If your thoughts about yourself are quite different from the perception of you out there, you may need to work with someone to help you figure out why. This is a good time to consult your mentors.

Here’s the story of a woman who built an amazing brand for her business. Mariebelle. Don’t miss it!

If the perception out there doesn’t support your career objectives, you have to look at the areas where you can make adjustments.

The following suggestions can help you make the largest impact on your personal brand in the shortest time.

1Make your word sacred. When you promise something, deliver. If you know you can’t, don’t commit to it or negotiate a more reasonable deadline. Every time you break your word you affect negatively your personal brand. So avoid putting yourself in this situation at all costs.

2Evaluate the people in your inner circle and aim for top quality relationships. Are they helping you with your brand or imprinting a negative vibe to it? Remember the idea of “guilty by association.” If you hang out with people others respect, they will respect you. I don’t need to tell you that the opposite is true too.

3Be aware of your behavior at all times. A big part of your brand is people’s experience of you and with you. So ask yourself: Do you take advantage of others? Do you criticize others? Laugh at them? Are you ready to lend a hand? Do you volunteer in company projects? Are you dependable? Do you brighten people’s days? Do you think of about what makes others happy? There are a million questions along these lines that can help you figure out how your behavior might be impacting your personal brand.

4Work on your appearance. Whatever your personal style, looking well put together and clean go a long way. Check out our Business Attire Guide for valuable posts on how to use accessories, how to dress for casual Fridays, and so on.

If you are happy with the results of your personal brand research, the only thing left to do is to reinforce it. And using your brand to your advantage.

Here are a few suggestions:

1Leverage your uniqueness. Bring that which makes you different to every role and every position you apply to. Consider this: When you think of your favorite product or person, a salient characteristic comes to mind. That’s how people should think of you. The inspired leader. The change maker. The woman who helps others soar.

2Find initiatives where your personal brand ads value. Where can you make a difference? For example if your brand is: “the multicultural, consensus-building leader,” you can approach a team in need of exactly that.

3Constantly build your brand. If Starbucks stopped offering comfortable chairs, wi-fi and coffee, you’d probably stop going there for meetings, right? They’ve established themselves not only as a coffee house, but as the “third space.” Neither the office nor home. Well, your brand is who you are. If you hurt it, people will stop thinking of you as their first choice when an opportunity comes along.

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her generosity, her inspirational style and an ability to get things done at a large and small scale. How well is your brand known?

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her generosity, her inspirational style and an ability to get things done at a large and small scale. How well is your brand known?

As you see, you are inseparable from your personal brand. There are things you can adjust and others you can’t. By tweaking those you can, you will strengthen others’ positive perception of you. In the end, that’s what will always open doors.

Consider signing up for our Step Up (individual) or Step Up Plus (corporations) Programs to further develop your personal brand and many other key soft skills critical for career growth. That’s what we do best.