What Co-Workers Call You Behind Your Back
Being typecast can be harmful to your career
(MONEY Magazine) – The class clown. The ditz. The office tramp. The geek. Every workplace has its characters. But while some labels may be harmless, others can work against you, narrowing the way that colleagues view you and limiting the opportunities you get, says Neil Yeager, an organizational consultant with the Charter Oak Consulting Group. To make sure your image isn't hurting your career, take these steps.
• KNOW YOUR REP. Solicit feedback from former colleagues you trust to be honest with you. And pay attention to co-workers' side comments and jokes. If you're constantly razzed about your perfectionism or tardiness, people are defining you in terms of that quality. "If I get up to speak and someone says, 'We better order out for pizza, Marty's about to talk,' I know people think I'm long-winded," says executive coach Marty Seldman, co-author of Survival of the Savvy.
• PLAY AGAINST TYPE. If you're worried that people's perceptions may impede your progress, take action to counter your image. Known as a control freak? Make a point of delegating responsibility, where appropriate. Are you regarded as the slob? Keep your desk neat and organized as a matter of new routine. Try to look the part too. Dressing too old, too young or too trendy, for instance, can play into age-related stereotypes that deflect attention from your work skills.
• ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. To broaden your image, build on the good aspects of your rep. Being known as a numbers guy may mean you're admired for your math skills. Make sure that you're also seen as management material by offering to train co-workers in Excel or head up a cost-cutting task force. Leadership ability and a head for numbers? That's a winning combo.