WorkZone: Workplace reputation is easy to build, important to maintain

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Nothing is more important to your reputation in the office than the work you produce.

But your workplace reputation also is influenced by several other factors, and they can ultimately determine how successful — or unsuccessful — you are in your career, says David Fagiano, chief operating officer at Dale Carnegie Training, an international, self-help learning program headquartered in Hauppauge, N.Y.

“Your reputation is one thing that you have to protect at all costs,” Mr. Fagiano said.

For proof of that, he said, just look at the small fortunes that some companies spend hiring “reputation defenders” when their position in the public eye has been jeopardized.

Building a strong reputation at work is not too challenging. It starts and ends with the quantity and quality of work.

“I think they go hand in hand,” Mr. Fagiano said. “Doing good work and working hard is part of the reputation. If you don’t have that and you just try to slough by, your co-workers and managers are certainly going to figure it out.”

That’s because it won’t take co-workers long to determine that they are carrying a heavier workload.

“Being liked only goes so far in the work environment,” he said.

But in addition to producing good work, basic common courtesy can go a long way. Take a genuine interest in co-workers, Mr. Fagiano said. Be courteous and respectful, and don’t criticize or condemn.

“Nothing has ever replaced the Golden Rule,” he said.

An enthusiastic and confident worker will be more popular in the workplace.

Having a good reputation can be a factor in the hiring process. Human resources professionals will check social media references for positive or negative feedback about a potential employee. Reference checks usually reveal little these days for fear of litigation.

An individual’s reputation in the office has a larger impact on professional development. Employees eligible for a promotion will have their workplace reputation scrutinized.

“ ‘Is this the kind of person you want on your project team?’ ” Mr. Fagiano said managers typically ask. “ ‘I wouldn’t mind following this person. That’s the kind of person I want to promote.’ ”

How easily workplace etiquette comes to an employee might just depend on how old he or she is.

Baby boomers, especially managers, were taught to take little or no interest in an employee’s personal life. Keep work at work and home at home, Mr. Fagiano said. But most workplace studies have proved that was a bad way to operate.

On the other end of the age spectrum, millennials, Mr. Fagiano said, suffer from self-absorption. They routinely return conversation to themselves and any interest they take in others is cursory.

“Baby boomers suffer from wrong information that can be corrected,” Mr. Fagiano said. “Millennials suffer from youth, which will be corrected over time.”

Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino.

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