Office Reputation Management Crash Course, Part 2: As a Team Member
This is the second part of a two-part article on how to build a reputation that others will envy and want to emulate.
Part 1 discussed you personally; Part 2 is about how you fit into a team.
Added on 16.11.2014
Have Respect For Legacy Systems
If you're new - especially if you're a team leader or manager - then you want to make an impact. A fresh pair of eyes is always good in any area, and it's likely you'll see things that seem as if they could be improved immediately. However, keep this famous saying in mind: 'When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.' Don't get blinded by zeal; it's tempting to see all existing processes as inefficient.
Bear in mind that any processes in place could well have been developed by someone in your team, or your boss. So be tactful and concentrate on gathering information. Put together a workflow document for each process and be sure that you understand every step, the reason it is done the way it's currently done, and whose idea it was to do it this way. If, following a comprehensive analysis, you can see places where improvements can be made, you'll know who to talk to first about your proposals and you'll be able to justify what you want to do.
Pick your battles carefully. Remember that most people aren't receptive to change, even though it's a constant when you're involved in digital media. So start with an area where you're sure you can make a big difference, get your new system in place and make sure it's working and seen to be working. Proceed at the pace of the slowest team member to avoid frustration, stress, poor performance and even resentment.
One resounding success with no hurt feelings and no mistakes should spark a reputation for you as a troubleshooter. It will also make any further changes you wish to make easier to implement. Each successive win will further cement your reputation in others' eyes.
Be a 'Can Do' Person - But Be Realistic About It
You'll never be able to do everything everyone wants of you within the time they want it; life (let alone a demanding job) just doesn't work that way. So don't try to be a blind 'yes' person - you'll wear yourself out, you'll invariably let people down, and you'll never get much credit for it.
Neither should you be a 'no, I can't right now' person; this can be far more damaging.
The middle ground we'd recommend you go for is that of a 'can do' and 'willing to do' person. So, if you're being asked by your boss to take on more work that will impact what you're already doing, then get a discussion going on how things might need to be shuffled around.
Mention any existing deadlines you have and promises you've made to others, then ask where they'd like to see this new work slot in. Agree your new committment between you and your boss, with the impact on your other work known to them. Don't be afraid to ask for their support and help - to get extra resources you might need, or to inform those affected by the revised deadlines. Done right, this should earn you the respect of the person asking for the extra work. It's clear to them that they have created a difficulty (so no danger of being taken for granted), and they have seen you be adaptable, diplomatic, committed to good time management and keeping promises.
Stick Up For The Team - Always
Never badmouth anyone to anyone. These things just have a habit of coming back and biting you somewhere nasty. If someone made a mistake and messed up, let them know, but don't give them cause for embarrassment or resentment by circulating their mistake; if you want to circulate a reminder on best practice, never label it 'as a result of a recent incident...' - see if you can find an example from another member of the team that allows you to give some praise instead. Keep your team strong and pulling together.
In client meetings, be very, very wary about correcting anyone from your team. Remember that the take-aways and action points from meetings are minuted and then circulated afterwards, so you have time to make a note and then make sure that the 'definitive version' of what was said is correct. Pulling a member of your team up on their facts makes you all look bad.
Try to build good relationships with everyone in your team; help people out if you have capacity and they are struggling. If you see someone hunched over their monitor, face screwed up, even a simple offer to do the legwork on a cup of tea or coffee lets them know that you're noticing they're having a tough day, and could give them the boost they need.
People remember even small kindnesses, so spread them around: a compliment on an idea you liked (particularly in front of others, especially a client); a simple enquiry on how a particular project or task is going. Think about how you could show your team that you care about what they are doing and how they are.
Keeping a united front will make everyone on the team look good - and that's good for you. If you bring others in on any praise you get for your sweat and your inspiration, then they will remember it. They know what they did, and they'll either feel proud and justified to get the recognition via you, or they'll feel grateful that you shared some of the limelight with them.