“What do your leaders say about you when you’re not in the room?”

The board room door closes and chit chat amongst leaders begin as they wait for their meeting to start. “How’s Bob doing this month?” A senior manager asks. Your manager grins, “Bob is doing okay, he comes in late every now & then but he’s doing okay.”

That one statement can determine your next promotion. When you think people aren’t watching, someone probably is. My first year on the job, I was sitting in a meeting with high level executives, and an intern came in. This intern was brilliant to say the least however he spent his time in the meeting trying to connect to the internet in order to watch a soccer game.

The intern didn’t say much, but within that 2 hour meeting his manager had received four complaints about him. His brilliance was no longer the focus of attention because the negativity outweighed the positive.

Let’s think about this in another sense. When you go to hotels and they have comment cards for you to fill out, how often are you going to leave a comment: – when something good happens or when something bad happens? Likely you will leave a complaint over praise, if you are like most Americans.

Corporate America works the same way. That 3 day report you worked on finishing can easily be overshadowed by those 10 minutes you were scrolling through Facebook and a manager saw you.

Your strongest reputation comes from what people say about you when you’re not even in the room.

When I decided I was interested in a promotion, my mentor told me to make sure I told my current boss I was looking so that he could advocate for me. I was confused, why would I tell him I want to leave his team? Wouldn’t he try to stop me? My mentor explained that a good manager wants you to succeed. You succeeding means that they are succeeding.

After I made it through that conversation with my boss, he let me know that he was reaching out to the hiring manager to let them know how much he recommends me. Those little things matter especially considering he was probably going to get a call anyway.

What do you think your manager would say to another manager about you? Would they go on and on about your impeccable timing skills or details analytic reports or would they say that you miss the detailed tasks or small deadlines? Those small deadlines add up over time. 

There are 5 things I want you to think about when thinking of career progression.

  • Am I spending down time on my phone or am I asking for additional tasks?
  • Do I speak when I walk into a room?
  • How often have I completed my assignments on time WITHOUT having to be reminded of them?
  • When was I  reprimanded multiple times on the same topic?
  • Have I been caught off topic?

If most of these are negative, it may be time to rethink the image and persona that you are putting out into the world. 

Think through these and let me know how your answers turned out in the comments. Are you a pro in reputation management? Don’t forget to subscribe!



5 Comments on What Do Your Leaders Say About You When You’re Not in the Room?

  1. These are all great tips! Often times people are so oblivious to the fact that there’s a target on their backs at work because they’re too absorbed in their own doings. It pays to have your work and efforts speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself — and that requires a concerted effort to make sure your image is up to par at all times.

  2. awesome post and great tips! I have actually gotten the same advice about going to my manager ab out wanting to progress. It worked out as you mentioned above ” a good manager would want you to succeed.”

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