Personal Brand Perception Gap – Your Main Career Blocker!

24 March 2021

Personal Branding Perception Gap means the difference between how you are perceived by others (employer, teammates, subordinates, customers, partners, members of your community, etc.) as a professional vs. the way you perceive yourself as a professional.

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There are managers who perceive themselves as leaders, but the organization perceives them only as good project managers. There are professionals who think about themselves that they are ready to move to the next level of their career, but the direct manager has a completely different opinion. How many unspoken frustrations are born due to this perception gap…

Often even leaders do not know how to address them directly in the dialogue with their subordinates – avoidance, not transparent feedback, failure makeover etc … Similarly, employees do not know how to address them tactfully – most often they leave the battlefield to other destinations with the false impression that they have defeated something, or someone …

A Personal Brand Perception Gap Story…

One day, I was in a meeting room with a client, as a coach. There was a Director specialized in financial consultancy opposite to me, his leader was to my right. The leader’s intention was to initiate a coaching process for his Director. From the veiled discussions I realized that the manager considered himself a high-performing leader, a good teammate, he showed a strong self-image, while from the feedback expressed as veiled by the boss I realized that the employer had a slightly different opinion. The director didn’t really feel the need to be guided, helped by coaching. The management insisted on “we decided to invest in your development”. Something was missing from this puzzle.

At one point I was left alone with the Department Head and I put into practice my experience in “office politics” to realize that in fact things were not as they had been presented to me. I was initially told “We have a very good Director whom we want to help through a coaching process”. When I was left alone with the person in charge, I took advantage of the opportunity and I went straight to the point: “You want to fire him, don’t you?” He looked at me perplexedly and snorts – they were tired of his behavior, attitude, his repeated delays, the interference of his personal problems in his efficiency… But they didn’t tell him that, they said: “We want to help you! ” On the other hand, the cold shower was not received in any way, the perception gap remained somewhat useless for both parties.

Leadership & Lack of Transparency 

As leaders, we must take courage of our opinions and not beautify the feedback up to the point that the employee no longer perceives the constructive nuance at all! For a professional with a solid confidence in their skills – it is always a shock to know that he/she is not perceived as a professional as he/she self-evaluates at the time, so honest solution-oriented conversations with” specific examples can be very helpful. Otherwise, he/she will feel frustrated, unappreciated, betrayed …

You can definitely think of yourself as a great leader, but in fact the organization sees you only as a good administrator. You may think that you are inspirational and appreciated by your subordinates and have a shock when in a 360 Evaluation Report you find out that the team does not see you like that at all and that this is a serious barrier in achieving your career goals.

Perception gap – what to do? 

In personal branding one of the golden rules says that perception is reality! How do we remain anchored as professionals in reality and not in our fantasy about who we are as professionals?

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Here are some ideas that I hope will help you:

 ✅ Ask for regular feedback from your brand community: direct manager, customers, subordinates, business partners, etc. A funny survey, a 1: 1 discussion, a well-placed question – they will all help you do this check. Don’t forget to answer the same questions yourself.

 ✅ Then assess the common elements in their answers. Do you agree with your own perception of you as a professional? In what areas / competencies / expected behaviors is there a gap already shown?

 ✅ Which areas do you already decide you have work to do and which do you decide to ignore? Of the ignored ones – can they impact your career development in the long run or not?

✅ On a scale from 1 to 10, how intensely do you assume that you will work to minimize this gap and how prepared are you to endure the result of your inactions?

 ✅ If you have identified that the source of the perception gap is deeper, it is a mismatch between the values the organization now operates with and your values – what steps are you willing to take for the next level of your career?

 The perception gap in your business community can be avoided if you pay attention to your communication style from time to time, to the way your message is really received, to the level of emotional intelligence with which you operate in business.

I don’t think we have to “harmonize” with the boss, the team & Co suddenly and forcibly – I think we have to stay authentic as a style of action and communication. But learning to read under the ranks of craft performance feedback, to truly understand what prevents you from your evolution to the next level, not to fall victim to unnecessary frustrations – then – from time to time take action: Perception Gap?  ✅Checked!

Author: Amalia Sterescu – Edupreneur ★ Career Transformer ★ Personal Branding Pioneer ★ Public Speaking Coach ★ World Explorer (54 countries)

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