Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Perception vs. Reality: Building Your Personal Brand

5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Personal Brand with DiSC Profiles

My husband, a training developer & facilitator, and I were talking the other day about our personal brands and their importance on our professional livelihood. Somehow the conversation snowballed (as they tend to!) into a conversation about perception vs. reality and how it relates to a personal brand.

We both agreed that perception IS reality when it comes to your personal brand. Think about it – those who work with you greatly affect your personal brand – for better or for worse. And, if you take time to let that sink in, you’ll see that can be pretty scary. Shouldn’t WE get a say in our personal brand?

Although you may be content with, or even proud of, your behavior or skills at work, some of those around you may not be so thrilled.

A negative impression can be a lasting one and a tough loss to come back from. You may think, “Eh! I don’t care what anyone thinks of me!” But when that person is friends with the VP of Sales – the decision-maker behind your promotion, you’ll soon figure out that negative impressions can be a disaster for your personal brand.

Rabbit or Duck?
Are you a Rabbit or a Duck?

The popular CBS TV show, “How I Met your Mother” has a hilarious episode in which the group discusses an illusionary image of a rabbit OR a duck. They quickly refer to it when categorizing people: is the particular person a rabbit (i.e. undesirable) or a duck (i.e. has potential)? Of course there’s an intense debate on whether the rabbit or the duck is the desirable option, but you catch my drift.

Again, it all comes down to perception. How do others perceive you? Do they see you as a rabbit or a duck?

Using DiSC Profiles to Improve Your Personal Brand

No matter what your personality, level of communication skills or accommodating nature, you can still conflict with others who see the world differently than you. Using DiSC profiles like the Everything DiSC Workplace® can provide you with an accurate, personalized report based on how you work with others and what you can do to improve your relationships and thus, your personal brand.

Follow these next 5 steps to increase your effectiveness with others and protect and improve your personal brand.

Step 1: Learn about yourself.

Although the concept is simple, the process is complex and even troublesome if you do not have the appropriate tools. Self-reflection is something that can make some people very uncomfortable. However, in order to work well with others, you first need to know HOW you work with others. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What situations stress you out and which make you excel?

Behavioral assessments like the Everything DiSC Workplace are designed to make learning about yourself (and others) simple. All you need to do is take 10-15 minutes answering questions about your behavior at work, and you’ll receive a personalized report with constructive narrative and clear plans of action for working more effectively with others. This is a very important step to protecting your personal brand and growing your network. Once you know what makes you tick, you can use that information to your advantage.

Step 2: Understand others.

Once you’re familiar with yourself and your behavioral tendencies, you can then understand how your behaviors are perceived by others. This will then lead you to appreciate their strengths, accommodate their weaknesses and also respect people for who they are. Again, behavioral assessments like the DiSC for Workplace can be extremely helpful, since they provide a step-by-step guide on each of the DiSC styles and how to work with each of them in particular roles. While reviewing the DiSC styles, you’ll more than likely think of a few people that fit perfectly into the descriptions you’ll be reading!

Step 3: Get the most out of your profile.

Be sure that you take the profile farther than just reading your results once and letting your profile collect dust.

First, read the profile in its entirety, making sure you write notes or questions on the side and even circle things that you find particularly interesting or surprising to you. Then, reread the information and answer any activity questions or jot down your thoughts/feelings on what you’re reading. Even take some time to think of people you currently know in your work or personal life that fit some of the DiSC styles you’re reading about. It helps to put people to styles, to help you remember the information you’re learning. Lastly, remind yourself to use DiSC every day – this can be as easy as printing out one of the pages and sticking it up in your cubicle. The important thing is to get more out of it than just reading the profile once and never picking it up again.

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Step 4: Get Buy-In from Others.

Getting feedback from others is an important part of any self-improvement process. What are things you’re great at/not so great at? What do people think of me? How do I come off to others? And, of course, how do you think I could improve my personal brand? Ask a trusted colleague or friend to discuss your DiSC profile with you, or simply, ask them questions over lunch. You may think of asking them to complete a SWOT analysis on your behalf and review together at a later time.

Step 5: Be flexible.

The most effective people are those who are flexible to others’ needs.
Once you know yourself, know others and have an action plan for building your personal brand, it’s time to get to work. Take note of others around you before shouting out at your next meeting or deciding to stay more reserved. For example, if you’re a high i, you probably enjoy recapping weekends by the water cooler with some of your co-workers. Fellow high i’s or even S’s may appreciate that you like to converse with them, but a high C (on the opposite side of the DiSC circle graph) may feel overwhelmed by your enthusiasm. Knowing this, you may want to keep the friendly chitter-chatter around this co-worker to a minimum. Although it may seem out of the norm for you, it will go a LONG way with them. This is just one example of learning to be flexible and adapt to those around you.

Remember, perception is reality when it comes to your personal brand. Make sure you have a positive effect on it by understanding yourself, identifying the people around you, respecting their needs and being flexible to others’ behaviors. Your personal brand is yours and yours alone. It can make the difference between taking “hops” back in your career or making quick “waddles” to your goals.

Start today by taking an Everything DiSC for Workplace assessment. It’s online and takes only about 10-15 minutes to complete.

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