Skip to main content

Workplace Bullying (5) - Damage to Personal Brand

There is a difference between your personal and professional brand, although they are overlapping more and more, thanks to social networking.

Its one thing when you damage your own brand, but there is a form of workplace bullying that can impact on you personally, and it is critical to address it quickly, should it happen to you.

When your personal integrity is brought into question, the damage can be far reaching.   As a woman, it is extremely important to set personal standards and guidelines for yourself in the workplace, and ensure that the lines are not crossed eg inappropriate teasing and comments about your looks, sexuality, and personal life are not office material, so try to keep that door closed, if possible.   There is an enormous difference between a lovely compliment, and a comment about your appearance that makes you feel deeply uncomfortable.  Sometimes, it is not the words, but the way they are said, and where they are looking when they speak, that causes the discomfort.  

"Get a sense of humour" is a bully's favourite refrain, as it makes the victim look childish and sound defensive, when they object to jokes at their expense.

Depending on your level of confidence, and ability to deal with bullies, make decisions about how available you want your personal profile to be to your work colleagues.   While many people are starting to develop personal and business profiles (eg deciding to make Facebook personal, and LinkedIn business), many more open up all their profiles to both friends and colleagues.   Should you do that, you do need to monitor what is out there for people to see.

Unfortunately, the knowledge that there is damage to our personal brand is difficult to come by.  There is a natural reluctance to tell colleagues what is being said about them, for many reasons.   So the awareness might come through less opportunities, being passed over for promotion, or just a feeling that relationships are tense, or less open.

 There is a tendency to believe negative stories, based on guesses or beliefs about others.   Very few people ask for the source when a story is funny or a bit unkind.   Once the rumour is repeated, the mere repeating creates a gravitas, the  rumour becomes a belief and then people start to say that there is no smoke without fire.   Sometimes, there is no fire, just a malicious assumption based on insufficient facts,  which gathers momentum, and denial just adds fuel to a vapourware fire.   Recently, a high school teacher in Gauteng was named on Facebook as the perpetrator of sex crimes in his school.  Later, the actual guilty party was named, but the damage to the innocent teacher's personal brand is real.

Should you be the victim of personal brand damage, it is extremely important to manage it.     Innocence is very difficult to prove, but guilt does need proof, too.    Shakespeare's Hamlet has led us to believe that too much protest means guilt, not true at all, of course.   How we handle gossip about ourselves is more about personality and confidence levels than guilt, most of the time.

A structured, analytical approach is a good way forward, though.   Ask for a meeting with your line manager, or HR, as a kick off, with your future career as the main discussion point.  If your company is formal submit an agenda with topics including your aspirations, skills and personal brand.   You are then able to align your career objectives with your concerns around the stories circulating about you, and ask for advice and assistance in finding a way to get a more positive image in the company.

This type of bullying is hard to stop, because it can be so difficult to find the source.    Once management and HR are aware that it is happening, there are a number of steps that can be taken to move the culture away from bullying generally.   Workshops and open communication can go a long way to raising the impact, on both people and the company, of a negative workplace and how much nicer (and more productive) it is to work in a place where kindness is the norm.




“You are the chief marketing officer for the brand called you, but what others say about your brand is more impactful than what you say about yourself.”   Dan Schawbel






Links and References

Hamlet - William Shakespeare
The lady doth protest too much, methinks - Queen Gertrude.   In those days, protest meant promise, but current translation is such a strong objection, that it implies guilt.

http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/40-personal-branding-quotes/


Accsys News


Popular posts from this blog

Thinking of leaving - should you discuss it with your manager?

The exit interview is not the time to tell your manager that you would have stayed if.....   When you are serious about your career, and really enjoy your job, except for one key component, take the time to talk before you resign.

While sometimes the grass is greener, more often than not you just inherit new issues at a new company.

It is a difficult labour market in South Africa right now, there is a skills shortage, and yet there are millions of people without jobs.   Working for a stable company, with people you like, and a job you enjoy is important, and yet there are often those frustrations that give you itchy feet.

In your current position, your manager might really want to keep you, and be very interested in finding out what would make you a happier, more productive, employee.   It is also sometimes much easier to have that conversation with somebody you already know, than have it in your first weeks in a new position.

When you know you have choices, as well as know that you …

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

The Gig Economy - HR and other issues

The Gig Economy has emerged as a topic of discussion and I understand that Intuit has posited that 40% of US workers will be independent contractors by 2020.  That is 3 years away! What is a gig employee?  Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb all utilize gig employees as the delivery mechanism for their apps.   While they are all clear that they are just an App and don’t employ the gig employees, governments and employer bodies are analyzing the risks and reports are indicating that they are significant. As a contract worker, which is how Uber defines their drivers, there is not an employer/employee contract in place.    While Uber, and other similar companies, create the mechanism for people to deliver a service, they consider themselves brokers, for want of a better word, and not employers. The UK is looking into the situation and considering legal structures .  The concerns are particularly when people have a single source of income, although they are not formally employed.  This leaves them in a …