Silence: How to Get Fired, Ruin Your Personal Brand

Silence_SqWant 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?

You 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: [email protected]. Subject line: Right Thing

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