Taking Charge of Your Work Reputation
I’m always skeptical of the “self-branding” concept. It sounds like you’re taking a hot iron to your rump. And people are neither consistent or perfect, so branding is impossible. That said, you need to think about how you want to be seen in the workplace. Your workplace reputation will impact how you are treated and the types of projects you get.
Although you may think you build your work reputation over time, you really build it in a single week. People will put you in a box, and there’s no room for a do-over. You have to survey the turf with lightning speed and then decide who you want to be.
So, you need to go in knowing exactly who you want to be on the job. The Devil’s Advocate? The Loyal Assistant? The Organizer? The One Who’s Great on Deadline? (In case you haven’t guessed, I’m the Organizer.) You might have a day, tops, to survey the workplace and figure out where you fit. It’s not high school–you have control over the situation, but you have to move fast.
Whatever you do, don’t let them peg you as the gossip, the crier or the hot mess. Be on your best behavior that first week. If anything goes wrong or if you mess up, don’t let your reaction show. Think about the image you want to project, and keep projecting it. Once your colleagues get the message, you can relax a bit.
Image of a cattle branding iron by Andreas Praefcke from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.