6 Things That’ll Improve Your Reputation at Work

July 15, 2019

How to improve your reputation at work – do these things in your job.

What do people really think of you at work?

I don’t know about you, but just thinking about that question makes me feel a little insecure. And I’m sure many of you have a similar response as myself, being, "I don’t know, they think good of me… I hope?".

Of course, you can’t control how other people think about you. But there are a few relatively simple things you can do that’ll help you build a stronger reputation at work.

Before I go any further, there might be some professionals wondering why you should worry what other people think at all. That’s fair and quite noble. But, if you do build a strong reputation for yourself at work, there are a few benefits to that – like getting promoted (and paid) more, getting to work on cooler projects and getting involved more in the decisions that affect you.

And you don't need to sell your soul to build a strong reputation, either. You just need to demonstrate to others you are in it to win it, without being a jerk. 

So, to that point, what are those things that’ll help your reputation at work? The things that'll improve the way others think about you?

In their LinkedIn Learning courses (all of which are great, by the way), mother-daughter duo Lisa McLeod and Elizabeth Lotardo cited these:

1. You show up to meetings on time.

My theory on this – if you are less senior at your organization, and you consistently show up late, people think you are flighty and don’t know what you are doing. Conversely, if you are more senior at your organization, and you consistently show up late, people think you are arrogant and don’t care about them.

Either, obviously, isn’t great. And I’m glad to hear Lotardo agrees with me – showing up on time is a little thing that can really help your reputation.

“Being on time sends the message that you're deeply invested,” Lotardo said in the course, Leading Without Formal Authority. “Secondly it sets a standard, a timely start lets everyone know how important the meeting is to you.”

2. You make the most out of meetings.

Meetings have such a bad rap. But they don't have to – meetings have the potential to be the most invigorating part of your day (seriously).

To make that happen, you need to do a few things. As far as attending meetings, it means doing the pre-reads and coming prepared with questions. And, it means not being on your phone or computer during the meeting, but instead focusing on what's being said.

As far as calling your own meetings, it means only calling meetings when they are absolutely necessary and ensuring that next steps are clear. This shows that you have your stuff together and you value other people’s times.

“If you're prepared, focused and action-oriented, meeting with your colleagues can be hugely productive,” McLeod said in her course, Leading Without Formal Authority.

Running great meetings and showing up well in other people’s meetings will greatly improve your reputation at work. And there’s an additional benefit – if you follow this advice, you’ll have less meetings, and the meetings you do have will actually be enjoyable.

3. You take control of your own development.

It’s not your boss's job or your organization’s job to develop you. They can offer the tools and feedback to help you develop yourself, but ultimately it’s up to you to develop you.

And, employees who work on themselves, who set goals and who take control of their own development are employees who have strong reputations within organizations. Ones who don’t, well, don’t – organizations want to invest in people who invest in themselves.

To do this, be specific, McLeod said in her course, Leading Yourself. Don’t just make vague goals, but specific areas you want to improve in – with specific plans for getting it done. She even encouraged professionals to give themselves their own annual performance review.

For example, don't say you want to be a better communicator. Instead, get feedback from your colleagues on where you need to improve to become a better communicator, and then work toward improving in that area.

“The main thing you need to remember, and know this to be true, is developing yourself does not come from a place of weakness,” McLeod said. “Developing yourself is a sign of your strength.”

4. You understand the strategy of your organization and tie your work into that.

Your job is not on an island. Your job is to help your organization accomplish what it’s seeking to accomplish, and your work varies depending on how your organization’s strategy changes.

If you understand what your organization’s strategy is and why it’s shaped that way, and always tailor your work so it ties into your organization’s goals, you will stand out, McLeod said in her course, Learning to be Promotable. People who do this have a reputation for being strategic and usually get more buy-in for their initiatives.

“Your understanding of the company and the market conditions, that helps you add value,” McLeod said. “It shows people that you're dialed into the big picture, you're proactive; you're that person who really gets it.”

5.  You are open to change, instead of fighting it.

This is an area many professionals fall short. They constantly fight change, probably because we as humans are evolutionary hard-wired to resist it.

That’s understandable, but the reality is in the Age of AI we are living in, change is only happening faster and faster. If you embrace change instead of fighting it, not only will you vastly improve your reputation at work – you will also create much more opportunity for yourself.

That doesn’t mean you have to embrace every new initiative, Lotardo said in her course, Learning to Be Promotable. It’s totally fair to give feedback and offer suggestions to make it better. Instead, it’s more about looking at the change objectively, instead of blindly rejecting anything different.

“Think back to some huge business changes,” Lotardo said. “The person who didn't want to create an email address or get a website 20 years ago is probably not a CEO today.”

Also, practically speaking, leading teams through change is really tough. One of the best ways to build a great reputation with senior leaders at your organization is to embrace that change – when it is in fact going to help your organization – and help others embrace it, too.

6. You treat people with respect and common courtesy.

I think there’s no more incorrect statement in business than “nice guys finish last.” Being a generally nice person who treats other people with respect and courtesy is a massive competitive advantage in the workplace.

Why? People want to invest in people they like being around. If you consistently treat people with respect, you will get more opportunities, not less. Conversely, people who treat others poorly generally don’t last too long, even if they are talented.

This doesn’t mean you are a pushover or you let people walk all over you. It just means you give people attention when they talk to you, you open the door for people who have things in their hands, you say “please” and “thank you”, etc.

“Courtesy plays such a big part in the way people view you,” McLeod said in her course, Learning to be Promotable. “So make sure you're polite and you're kind to everyone at the office, regardless of their role.”

So, want a great reputation at work? It starts with just being nice.

Lisa McLeod and Elizabeth Lotardo are fantastic Instructors, offering courses chock-full of practical advice for all professionals.

Some of their outstanding LinkedIn Learning courses include: