Because she had a family, Rachel limited the amount of time in the evening that she would spend checking email or texts – if she would check them at all. Her boss and colleagues were single and seemed to check email religiously throughout the evening. Rachel felt that was driving her boss’s mistaken perceptions about her productivity.
Here are some tips on how Rachel could handle the situation and start the rebranding process:
- Reach out with a positive message: Set up a meeting but make sure to compose a clear-cut message beforehand. For example, a good message for Rachel to convey might be: “I realize that we both have different perceptions about my performance and I want to change that.”
- Ride in on the elephant: Difficult conversations are hard for many of us, so we tend to avoid them. Of course, that only keeps you stuck in a bad situation. Begin the meeting by saying, “This is a difficult conversation for me to have because I pride myself on being a top performer. And, above all, I want you to recognize that.” You also need to address other uncomfortable things – the elephant in the room – such as the evening emails. Rather than be defensive about your family time, why not suggest a compromise. For example, you can offer to check email once an evening at a specific time.
- Empathize: Make sure that the conversation makes your boss feel understood just as you want her to understand you. Acknowledge that you realize that your boss is under a lot of pressure too. Ask questions and listen to the response. Ask your boss how you might be able to work together with her better in the future. Resist feeling like a victim or reacting defensively. A caring demeanor and eye contact are crucial.
When meetings like this go well, you will both leave feeling that you were able to come to a better understanding of each other. And that will begin the rebranding process.
One woman I’ll call “Rachel” came up for a private speed branding session after a talk recently. Rachel’s boss had asked her if she could take on a new project, and Rachel gave her a truthful response. She said, “Honestly, I’m swamped. I can’t take on anything more.”
In the course of the conversation, Rachel’s boss told her that she wasn’t as productive as other members of the department – something that took Rachel completely by surprise. In fact, Rachel felt that she was one of the most productive members of the team!
It’s a common problem. Two people – a boss and a direct report – with vastly different perceptions of a situation.
The business world, like most places, operates on perceptions. As brand managers know, it often doesn’t matter which product wins in objective performance tests, what really matters is which product people perceive to be best. Likewise, you have to be perceived to be a top performer for it to count, too.
You have to care about other people’s perceptions about you, especially your boss’s perceptions about you. While it’s true that you have the most control over your self-brand, if you work in a company, your boss is probably your number one target market for Brand You.
Rachel realized that she had a serious problem. She was branded in a way that she didn’t want to be branded by her boss – someone important to her career success at her company.
What can Rachel do to change perceptions?
One study of TED talks found that the most viewed TED talks featured speakers who use animated and active hand gestures.
I was at a speed networking event last month where each person had two minutes to give their elevator speech. The crowd ranged from new grads and MBAs to seasoned executives who were interested in moving up the ladder at their companies or in transition.
Most everyone bombed.
One after another recited a laundry list of what they had done – schools, job titles, dates of employment, how many people they managed, what the company was about.
There’s no story in a laundry list.
Most didn’t even get to their punch lines before their short time in the spotlight was up.
Use the Elevator Speech to Create an Impression
Your elevator speech is important because it is something that you will use throughout your life to communicate your personal identity. You’ll use it in meeting new people, pitching new business, trying to make a move internally at your company and, of course, in job interviews.
But in reality, every encounter is a potential interview. Yet, most of us are unprepared and we botch the opportunity to make a strong first impression. Or even worse, we don’t make a meaningful connection so that the person becomes part of our network.
The power of threes is an important thing to remember when putting together a talk or story for any type a presentation or speech.
Stories usually have a three-act structure. Classic stories and fables have three obstacles that must be overcome, three wishes that are granted, or three main characters. There are “The Three Little Pigs,” “Three Blind Mice,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “We Three Kings,” The Three Musketeers, and, in more contemporary times, The Three Stooges.
Even today, how many stories have you heard about the rabbi, the priest, and the minister?
We Think Brands Are Better Than Generic Products
Any way you slice it, brands win over products hands down.
A branded item is viewed as better than its generic counterpart. Brands are perceived as
higher in quality.
Brands are in demand.
Brands sell for a premium price.
Generic products compete only on price, by offering a very low price. (And if you’re
reading this blog I doubt that you want to compete that way.)
Personal Branding is Good for You and Good for Your Company
Branding also gives you a template for developing a marketing program directed at your
key target markets. You will learn how to develop specific brand messages, tactics and
a “media plan” for maximizing success with your target market as well as methods of
measuring your success.
Self-branding is not just good for you personally, it is good for the company, too.
Branding teaches you how to be more strategic by staying relevant to the market and the
It teaches you how to use advertising techniques to build a powerful verbal identity to
express your ideas through signature words and expressions. Branding teaches you how
to package your ideas for a strong visual identity, too, so they will break through and be
remembered. And it teaches you how to use other branding techniques to build consensus
and lead in today’s competitive global marketplace.
What Reaction Do You Want to Get?
Branding shows you how to attract a market. Don’t think in terms of what you want to
Think in terms of the reaction you want from your target market.
And what you have to do to get that reaction.
Who’s Your Market?
Branding also requires that you target a market. A market is any group of people that you
need to engage with in order to reach your goals. Clients or customers are a target market,
as are the prospects you are pursuing.
If you work at a company, you should view your colleagues and direct reports as target
markets. Don’t overlook your boss. In any company, your boss is probably your most
After all, other than yourself, your boss has the most control over Brand You. Recruiters,
industry leaders, and even competitors are also markets for your self-brand.
LEVERAGE BRAND POWER
Looking at yourself as a brand has enormous advantages.
The truth is that being good, by itself, doesn’t guarantee success. We all know talented
people who are underemployed, underpaid, or even unemployed. With branding, you
learn how to look at yourself as a product in a competitive framework.
Branding is the process of differentiating that product—you—from the competition and
taking action steps to get where you want to go.