Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: 3 ways to overcome a bad reputation at work

How you're perceived at work is crucial to your success. While you're not always going to please everyone, developing a bad reputation can hold you back from getting the job, pay raise or new project you've been eyeing.

According to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, a bad reputation is like a case of pneumonia. "Ignore the symptoms," she warns, "and let's just say you won't be ruling the world — let alone getting promoted — any time soon."

Accurately assessing how others see you can be a challenge. But Welch says if you find yourself feeling stuck at work, with no sign of new responsibilities or a future promotion, chances are your reputation might need a makeover.

CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch.
CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch.

1. Take stock of how people see you

To start, she suggests conducting an autopsy on your performance so far. Do you consistently deliver the bare minimum? Do you come across as disengaged with your work? Have you missed key deadlines that led to your manager writing you off?

All of these behaviors can contribute to you earning an "embedded reputation," which Welch defines as "an organizational verdict that you've reached your professional upper limit."

"You have to ask trusted colleagues for the cold, hard truth," she explains. "Implore them to be candid. Yes, these conversations might be painful. But you can't fix your reputation problem until you define it."

2. Change your approach

And in order to change how your boss and colleagues view you, Welch says it's essential that you change your approach to work.

"Once you've identified the source of your reputation ills, your next job is to deliver one positive surprise after another," she says.

Study up on research and industry trends to demonstrate you're capable of more than you've been doing. If you've seemed disengaged, volunteer to work on a high-profile strategic initiative. If you're known for missing deadlines, make every effort to deliver work ahead of schedule.

3. Demonstrate your willingness to learn

"Part of your change initiative might require learning new skills and acquiring credentials," she says. "Enroll in a class, get a certification or maybe even earn a graduate degree."

Regardless of what you decide to do, Welch says now is not the time to be shy.

"Let your manager and teammates know you're not done growing," she adds. "Show them how and why you're investing in your future."

If you feel that your bad reputation is irreparable, Welch suggests that it may be time to move on to a new place where you can start fresh. But make sure you really evaluate yourself before you run for the exit.

"Don't make that decision before taking a dose of hard medicine," she says. "It might be just what the doctor ordered."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker.

Video by Richard Washington

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