Advance Your Career Part 2 – You Made A Great 1st Impression But Is It Holding You Back?
1st Impressions Are Lasting
We all know that 1st Impressions are important and that they are lasting. We work hard to make a great 1st Impression. What we don’t often think about is that the same 1st Impression that helped you get your job can actually get in the way of your career advancement.
When a new employee is hired in an organization to serve in a certain position, a set of inferences are made about them, their abilities, their capabilities and the level at which they will live in the organization. Making inferences is human nature. We all suffer from information overload and need to “categorize” information to make it more digestible and more manageable. We all make inferences and judgments every day about people, ideas and things that cross our path. Categorizing is not a bad thing when used to organize information, but sometimes categorizing causes labels to be attached to people, ideas, and things and those labels can become limiting.
1st Impressions Can Prevent Others From Seeing Your Other Talents
For example, if you become known for your attention to details, you may never be seen as someone who can see the big picture or brainstorm future ideas. If you become known as a “numbers person” you may never be noticed as someone who is a creative writer. If you are the person who organizes all of the birthday celebrations and always makes sure there is a cake to celebrate, you may never be seen as management material. Whatever perception, label or inference is made by others and associated with you may prevent others from seeing your other talents.
1st Impressions Can Label You Forever
Inferences can follow an employee forever, often pre-determining the path of their career inside the organization and how far they will be able to advance their career. These perceptions paint a picture of who people think we are. It is often extremely difficult for people to see us in any other capacity. This, in large part, is why careers stall, why people feel like they are going nowhere, why they become frustrated, dissatisfied and even leave. When people leave, they can start somewhere else with a new 1st Impression. But it doesn’t have to come to that if you follow these three tips.
Break free of inferences and perceptions, broaden your 1st impression by. . .
- Sharing other aspects of yourself with coworkers and your manager when appropriate. Talk about what you are reading or a project you are working on at home or as a volunteer that demonstrates other skills you possess.
- Becoming knowledgeable about your company and industry. Embrace learning new things. Be proactive. Read and research so you are well versed and can share your knowledge to help solve a problem or help your team with fresh ideas. Contribute in new and unexpected ways.
- Volunteering in your company where help is needed to give yourself the opportunity for others to see you in a way that is outside of your defined role. Build relationships and alliances with other employees in other departments and express interest in what they do.
When you widen your circle of knowledge and relationships, you can change the perceptions people have of you as they get to know you, your interests and your capabilities better.
Next in the series: Advance Your Career Part 3: Visible or Invisible, That Is The Question?
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Nancy O’Keefe, MBA, is a Strategic Adviser, Executive Coach, Speaker, Trainer, and Author of the Book Fighting The Talent Battle: How To Update Your Arsenal and Win the War. She works with business owners and senior executives to create profitable and productive workplaces that attract, motivate and retain great people. She is a thought leader in strategy, management and cultivating talent. She can be found at http://www.NancyOKeefeCoaching.com