Silence: How to Get Fired, Ruin Your Personal Brand | Personal Branding Blog - Stand Out In Your Career


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  • Silence: How to Get Fired, Ruin Your Personal Brand

    Keep Quiet photo from ShutterstockWant the perfect summary of what will get you fired and ruin your personal brand? Penny Pritzker, who is currently the US Secretary of Commerce and a former executive at her family’s Hyatt Hotel empire provides this excellent sound bite in the New York Times Corner Office column by Adam Bryant.

    If you want to get fired, here’s what you need to do: first lie, cheat or steal. But the other thing that will get you fired is if you have a problem and keep it to yourself.

    That thing about knowing there’s a problem but not telling your boss? That’s the real killer of your personal brand and likely your employment.

    In case you haven’t been told: as soon as you know there’s a problem with making a deadline, getting people to comply with the rules of a program or anything else you can imagine impacts the company in any way: tell your superior. Don’t grumble. Don’t ignore it. Don’t destroy your personal brand by letting it go.

    Whether it’s a problem you are having or whether it’s a problem you see someone else having or creating: speak up. Pronto.

    When we discover you knew something was wrong before we did? And you did nothing to alert us?  Guess who pays the price in terms of reputation, and perhaps your employment? You. That’s who.

    Here’s why. All you really have in business is your performance. And the number one attribute of that performance is whether you are a completely trustworthy team player. Nothing matters more to your personal brand than trust.

    Ask yourself. Do you tell the truth before we have to wring it out of you? Before we have to guess what’s wrong? Before the big story rolls out over time and you only told us a tiny piece of it?

    Your ability to rapidly and responsibly report a machine malfunction, an email that went out to the wrong person, another employee violating a company policy – is such a clear and simple test of who you are, that it’s dumbfounding when you fail to do the right thing.

    That’s the single most important thing about you: doing the right thing. Surprised? It isn’t the number of clients you bring in. It isn’t the amount of code you write. It isn’t how many tweets you get out.

    Your personal brand has to embrace the belief that you are accountable for looking out for your company’s best interests. Your personal brand is built on your showing that you know what’s building or destroying the organization that employs you.

    It’s the quality of your response when things going wrong that is the litmus test of your value as an employee, consultant, contractor or freelancer. That’s what you put into jeopardy when you hold out information your boss should know.

    Are you having a moral crisis or perhaps just an ethics question about what you should or shouldn’t tell management? Email me. I will help you decide the right course of action. Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Right Thing.

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    Nance Rosen, MBA is author of Speak Up! & Succeed: How to get everything you want in meetings, presentations and conversations. She blogs at NanceRosenBlog.com. She is also on the faculty of the UCLA Business and Management continuing executive education program. Formerly, Nance was a marketing executive at the Coca-Cola Company, president of the Medical Marketing Association, first woman director of marketing in the Fortune 500 technology sector, host of International Business on public radio and NightCap on television, an entrepreneur and a general manager at Bozell Advertising and Public Relations (now Omnicom).

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    Posted in Personal Branding, Skill Development, Workplace Success
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    One comment on “Silence: How to Get Fired, Ruin Your Personal Brand
    1. avatar
      EXPERT

      This is good advice, but be prepared for it not to work if the company is not committed to transparency. In 2001, when the bank where I headed corporate communications was acquired, the acquiring bank agreed with my advice to be transparent about impending layoffs on a statewide basis. We got positive press for the transitjon help we were providing, and even the laid off employees spoke positively about the treatment. Five years later the bank was again acquired, but this new management wanted to keep everything secret, and ignored my advice to be transparent. Their approach to telling the media and public as little as possible about everything they do has led them to a continuing reputational nightmare, and yes, I got laid off as part of a “merger related reorganization” a year after the acquisition, so be honest, but keep your bag packed too.

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