Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keeping it Personal at Work in 2009

It’s nothing personal. Actually…it’s everything personal.

First and foremost, we’re all human beings, even at work. Companies frequently hear from customers that they want to talk to a person rather than a machine. Customer satisfaction survey responses tell corporations how impactful those on the front lines—their responses, mannerisms, attitudes, etc—are to the overall customer experience, which, in turn affects word-of-mouth and referrals. Likewise, customers are quick to complain about lack of human interaction. You can give people scripts to read and messages to convey but the essence of how they interact with others is solely theirs.

Internally, your attitude, perspective, and interactions with colleagues can have an effect on morale and productivity.

Your personal brand is your own and it cannot be manufactured with a set of cookie-cutter rules. However, if you’re looking for some simple ways to bring the human element into the workplace a bit more in 2009, then you may wish to start with one or more of the resolutions on the following list. And add your own flair to these.

  • Say “Thank You.” Say it often. Acknowledge the contributions of your customers, colleagues, suppliers, partners.
  • Offer your time as a mentor, coach, or teacher. If your schedule is limited, volunteer with your alma mater to speak with a graduating senior about your profession.
  • Play an instrument? Start a company band. Enjoy cooking? Reading? Sports? Theater? Start a discussion group. Do this online if you work remotely.
  • Smile. Mean it.
  • Learn people’s names. Use them.
  • Introduce yourself to a new employee outside of your direct team in person (or by phone if you work remotely).
  • Complement someone else’s work. Be sincere.
  • Ask a customer (internal or external) about his/her experience. Listen. Relate. Follow up.
  • Did a colleague or partner exceed your expectations? Share this positive feedback with the person’s manager.
  • Contribute to the professional development of someone who does not report to you. Help him/her cultivate a new skill or enhance an existing one.
  • Share a podcast, article, webinar, etc that is relevant to someone else’s job.
  • Keep it light. Share your humor (keep it clean).
  • Ask someone else for their input. Listen.

Regardless of how you decide to portray your personal brand in 2009, keep it real. Keep it honest. After all, it’s not just business. It’s personal.

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