ICMA has resources online for anyone interested in managing their reputation. ICMA subsidizes the Reputation Management program for ICMA Members in Transition, through our preferred partner Tripepi Smith. ICMA Members, not in transition, interested in this service, are not eligible for the subsidy, but may contact membership@icma.org for more information.

By Stacey Hanke

Have you ever been so frustrated by someone's bad habits that the very thought of communicating with them scares you? Do you go into hiding when you see a rude coworker coming your way? What if YOU are the person who everyone fears communicating with?

What you think others believe is not always the truth. While many professionals believe they are perceived as uber-professionals, they don't realize how the mistakes they make can cost them influence. People don't see us based on who we are; instead, they observe us in the day to day.

Uncover the hidden mistakes you make that frighten off your ability to influence others:

1.    Meeting Monster.

Professionals are overwhelmed with meeting madness, so much so that they take for granted the common etiquette necessary to attend.

  • Arrive on time. Running late is bound to happen occasionally. No matter how much we want to avoid it, situations arise that cause us to get behind. If this happens to you, enter the meeting in progress with grace. Quietly open the door and take your seat. Quickly review the materials and catch up on your own without interjecting or asking others to catch you up on what was missed.
  • Don’t interrupt. When a presentation is in progress, acknowledge the rules established by the presenter. If there is a Q&A session at the end, make notes of what you'd like to ask and save it until then. If someone is sharing an idea, don't interrupt with yours. Allow whoever is speaking to finish their thoughts before interjecting with yours.
  • Stay on track. We’ve all attended a meeting with a coworker who has a penchant for derailing conversations. It’s irritating and confusing. Be the one who asks questions and suggests ideas inline with the topic of discussion. Anything off topic must be saved for after the meeting ends.

2.    Terrifying Texts.

Text messaging is a way of life for all professionals. Whether you're sending a quick message to coworkers, your boss or clients, there are guidelines for this digital dialogue.  

  • Keep it simple. Text messages need to remain short – no more than two sentences. If the need to text requires more than three back-and-forth exchanges, pick up the phone and call instead. This will reduce the risk of confusion and miscommunication.
  • Pay Attention. No matter how effective you think you are at simultaneously texting and listening, you aren’t. Sending text messages during a meeting or personal conversation is rude and trying to hide it doesn’t fool anyone. Everyone knows if you’re trying to text under the table when you’re supposed to be paying attention. People get offended and feel unimportant if you’re texting as they’re talking.

3.    Aimlessly Floating.

We have become overly present with technology and absent-minded to others in our space. Stop aimlessly walking while paying more attention to your phone than where you are going.

  • Don’t walk and talk. No matter how efficient you wish to be, you're going to make a mistake. We've all seen the hilarious videos of others walking into objects because they were paying more attention to their device than where they were going. Imagine how your coworkers feel in their attempts to avoid being your next hallway victim.
  • Eyes dead ahead. Until we are born with eyes on the top of our head, put your phone down. Pay attention to where you're going. If you must answer a call or respond to a text, simply step aside or wait until you return to your desk. Make it a point, instead, of acknowledging peers you pass in the hallway. It's easier to build a positive influence by saying "good morning" rather than knocking someone to the floor.

4.    Eyes Are Everywhere.

Someone is always watching.  Whether it is a camera overhead or a person sitting across from us in their car, we are always under observation.

  • Know your surroundings. The car is not the place to do your makeup, dance or change clothes. Your office is not the place to pick your teeth or your nose. When walking into work, limit the number of bags you carry. You're not moving; you're only going to work.
  • You’re never alone. Even when you think you're alone, you're not. If there are grooming matters to attend to, handle them before you arrive. If that's not possible, head to the nearest restroom and get situated. Be aware of what you look like walking into the office. Maintain strong posture and stride.

5.    Afterhours Fright.

Few things generate dread like seeing the name or number of your boss on the phone after hours. Nothing can create animosity and frustration like an always-on leader.

  • Avoid Afterhours. Nothing scares people more than an after-hours work-related text message. If there is something on your mind you wish to share,  write it down and save it for the next day. Allow your employees time to decompress without fear or worry of unexpected messages.
  • Terrifying timing. If there is something urgent to share, start by first apologizing. Ensure the recipient you would not have called or messaged under any other circumstance. Acknowledge you respect their time and will do your best to limit the interaction.

Put fear aside in others by being mindful in your communication methods and manners. Increase your credibility by being respectful of others and avoiding scary bad habits that can cost you influence.

Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke, Inc. She is the author of Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday, and Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action. Stacey and her team have delivered thousands of presentations and workshops for leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Nationwide, FedEx, Kohl’s and AbbVie (www.staceyhankeinc.com).

 

Charmelle Garrett, ICMA-CM
City Manager
Victoria, Texas
chgarrett@victoriatx.org

I follow the ICMA Code of Ethics. I strongly believe that my reputation is only as good as my behavior. The old adage "walk the talk" is important to me. I conduct myself in a professional manner, not only during business hours but also outside of work.

I always remember that I am the city manager for my community when I am grocery shopping, eating at a local restaurant, going to a community theater performance, or when I travel out of town.

If I'm wrong, I admit it. If I'm rude, I apologize. My husband, who is a retired police officer, always said, "The dignity of the office follows you." In all situations, I conduct myself with this in mind.

 

Brant Hanson
City Manager
Ephraim City, Utah
brant.hanson @ephraimcity.org

Protecting our reputation as public administrators derives from truly understanding who we are and the principles we keep in both our public and private lives. For me, the challenge of protecting my reputation is that my view of it may be different than what is held by others.

I recognize that an occasional misspoken word and/or misdeed may create a pattern that could potentially damage the reputation that I strive to protect. At the end of each day, I reflect on the many discussions, the complex projects, and the possibly controversial decisions that occurred throughout the day.

Although the reflection may be brief, I feel it is important to understand my behavior and decisions objectively. In this profession that is highly scrutinized, it is important to remain true to ourselves and our principles.

 

Anne Norris
City Manager
Crystal, Minnesota
anorris@ci.crystal.mn.us

I protect my reputation by trusting my gut, being honest, having the same message for and to all audiences, and being professional. My basic strategy is to avoid questionable situations, although I recognize sometimes that isn't possible.

I trust my gut in gauging the legitimacy of a situation and formulating comments appropriate to that situation. If avoiding a situation is not possible, then I will adjust any comments to be more circumspect, but still carry the same message. I think it is critical that while information may be tailored, the basic message I share has to be the same no matter the audience.

And last, I strive to be professional at all times. After all, a manager's reputation is her or his currency.

 

Dominic Lazzaretto
City Manager
Arcadia, California
domlass@arcadiaca.gov

The biggest thing I do is make sure I'm always telling the truth. I try to stay well-informed and share my knowledge with others. If I don't know the answer to something, I admit it and promise to find the answer. If people can trust your honesty, they tend to give you the benefit of the doubt on most everything else.

Always telling the truth may sound a bit simplistic, but it can be surprisingly hard to do when your job relies on being well liked. Little transgressions that "nobody will ever know about" can be pretty attractive options. I try to avoid even the smallest ethical lapses in order to maintain my credibility at all times.

I also am willing to have courageous conversations to protect my reputation. When I hear rumors about me or staff members, I quickly talk to those spreading the gossip and offer them the full story so that they are better informed. Often, the people who were spreading the rumors will help to stop them by spreading the right kind of information after we talk.

Charmelle Garrett, ICMA-CM
City Manager
Victoria, Texas
chgarrett@victoriatx.org

I follow the ICMA Code of Ethics. I strongly believe that my reputation is only as good as my behavior. The old adage "walk the talk" is important to me. I conduct myself in a professional manner, not only during business hours but also outside of work.

I always remember that I am the city manager for my community when I am grocery shopping, eating at a local restaurant, going to a community theater performance, or when I travel out of town.

If I'm wrong, I admit it. If I'm rude, I apologize. My husband, who is a retired police officer, always said, "The dignity of the office follows you." In all situations, I conduct myself with this in mind.

 

Brant Hanson
City Manager
Ephraim City, Utah
brant.hanson @ephraimcity.org

Protecting our reputation as public administrators derives from truly understanding who we are and the principles we keep in both our public and private lives. For me, the challenge of protecting my reputation is that my view of it may be different than what is held by others.

I recognize that an occasional misspoken word and/or misdeed may create a pattern that could potentially damage the reputation that I strive to protect. At the end of each day, I reflect on the many discussions, the complex projects, and the possibly controversial decisions that occurred throughout the day.

Although the reflection may be brief, I feel it is important to understand my behavior and decisions objectively. In this profession that is highly scrutinized, it is important to remain true to ourselves and our principles.

 

Anne Norris
City Manager
Crystal, Minnesota
anorris@ci.crystal.mn.us

I protect my reputation by trusting my gut, being honest, having the same message for and to all audiences, and being professional. My basic strategy is to avoid questionable situations, although I recognize sometimes that isn't possible.

I trust my gut in gauging the legitimacy of a situation and formulating comments appropriate to that situation. If avoiding a situation is not possible, then I will adjust any comments to be more circumspect, but still carry the same message. I think it is critical that while information may be tailored, the basic message I share has to be the same no matter the audience.

And last, I strive to be professional at all times. After all, a manager's reputation is her or his currency.

 

Dominic Lazzaretto
City Manager
Arcadia, California
domlass@arcadiaca.gov
 

The biggest thing I do is make sure I'm always telling the truth. I try to stay well-informed and share my knowledge with others. If I don't know the answer to something, I admit it and promise to find the answer. If people can trust your honesty, they tend to give you the benefit of the doubt on most everything else.

Always telling the truth may sound a bit simplistic, but it can be surprisingly hard to do when your job relies on being well liked. Little transgressions that "nobody will ever know about" can be pretty attractive options. I try to avoid even the smallest ethical lapses in order to maintain my credibility at all times.

I also am willing to have courageous conversations to protect my reputation. When I hear rumors about me or staff members, I quickly talk to those spreading the gossip and offer them the full story so that they are better informed. Often, the people who were spreading the rumors will help to stop them by spreading the right kind of information after we talk.

Advertisement