Business

Want to set yourself apart? Be in control.

BUSINESS ADVICE | By Cheryl Kane

May 17. Want a promotion? Hope to be on the best team projects? Do you seek exciting opportunities? Then make sure you are perceived as promotable, dependable and stimulating to work with.

Our hybrid world of working floating hours, attending meetings online, and working from home may offer cool benefits such as work-life balance, but don’t let this flexibility stretch so far it breaks your resolve to build your brand.

Reminder: Casual dress for the workplace should still make a statement that says you care to be in control of yourself and are present to work.

Today’s job market may seem like you can find a new job any time. But people and organizations have memories and records that will identify you as a desirable or undesirable employee. If you want to be part of great workplaces, be a great employee.

Tip: Despite flexible workplace environments, hold firm to important standards. Produce consistently high-quality work; be someone who initiates self-improvement and generates valuable ideas.

Be known for being kind and helpful to others

You see, creating a workplace image or brand is not about you; it’s really about the people you work with-how you make them feel about you, your work product, your attitude. Though you work in a flexible world, be sure to control all that is in your power to control—you and your actions.

Be present

Virtual meetings: Control your space with a clean, plain background to showcase you. Sign on to meetings several minutes early, not as they start. These nonverbal messages signal to others that you have planned well, are interested and ready to participate. Don’t multi-task: Pay attention so your brain power is at full strength, focused working only on the purpose of this meeting.

In-person meetings: For all the reasons above, arrive a few minutes early. Put devices you won’t be using away. If you are using a personal screen for the meeting only look at it when you need it—and be sure to look at others as they speak. Nonverbal signs tell others you are listening and thinking.

Produce your best work

Plan when you will work on large projects in steps. Using a calendar, build in time for unexpected delays. Remember editing or reviewing a final project or product may require considerable time. Such planning may seem unnecessary—but only if you think error-free work is unnecessary.

Keep it relevant

Irrelevant commentary distracts from the effectiveness of a meaningful set of points being generated. Make sure what you say has a complete point and adds value to the conversation at hand.

Be conscientious

Informal work environments (online or in-person) do not give us license to be lackadaisical. We are still in a professional setting. Don’t talk over others, one person at a time should speak. Simple courtesies still matter.

Tip: Remember to thank others; don’t take anyone for granted.

•••

Your workplace reputation should always be important to you. Put thoughtful effort into the part of your world you alone control so your reputation is building each time you interact with people and produce your work. Become memorable for the right reasons so your attitude, work quality, and attitude create the path that leads others to want to work with you.

Cheryl Kane, MBA, PHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, is a strategic business consultant, sales trainer, & professional speaker specializing in problem solving and service quality. Email her at:

Cheryl.Kane@alumni.duke.edu

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