In the current fast paced working environment we can no longer rely on the concept of a job for life, even in traditional industries such as Banking and Teaching due to new technology and global competition.
Your job identity is becoming more important, as the number of job applications for every advertised job and promotion increase and the threat of redundancy looms over many industries.
Your job identity is the identity your employer and colleagues label you with; this could be positive or negative.
What is your Job Identity?
The Time Keeper
The Mood Hoover
The One Who Gets Things Done
A Careers Advisor can help you find your Job Identity
It is highly important to secure a positive job identity when you first start in a new company, as we all know first impressions count, it can often be hard (but not impossible) to change an employer’s first impression of you. If you have a positive job identity, you are more likely to gain promotions and work your way up the ladder.
Job Identity by Groups
When starting a job at a new company you will often be quizzed informally by your new colleagues and line managers. Like in a playground at school, your new colleagues are unconsciously checking if you have common working and personality traits. Often in the workplace, as in the playground groups often form. Do you fit in with “the naughty kids”, “the moaners”, “the jokers” or “the hard workers”? That is the question!
This may be stereotyping and even prejudicial, but it is a frequent reality in most industries and companies. You can often “be painted by the same brush” when you’re attached to a certain group, with a certain reputation-this can be positive or negative, choose your group carefully.
Individual Job Identity
Look at your workplace, who is the person who is always is always on time? Which colleague can always be counted on to put their all in to each task? Is there someone who will always drop what they’re doing to help others?
Do you have a “mood hoover” in your workplace, the person who we all try to sneak past, as we know that after five minutes in their company we’ll be convinced that the world is as bad a place to be as they tell us it is, the type of person who can suck the fun out of any task.
Both managers and colleagues can contribute to our job identities, although there may be a distinct difference in how your colleagues and manager see you in your work place. The joker in the workplace is often loved by the workers, as the joker releases stress and is fun to be with. From a manager’s point of view, they may see the joker as a distracter who spends more time chatting to others than working.
Your job identity is given to you within a couple of months of working in one place, it’s important to ensure this identity is going to be positive. Remember your identity is rarely revealed to your face, but often discussed behind your back – especially negative identities.
Once given these are hard to change, people often play up to other’s perceptions of them, if you’re told that you’re lazy you may start to think ‘Why should I bother?’.“The joker” may feel he has to start each day by telling jokes, and “the worker” may take on too much.
Get a good work/life balance with a Life Coach
Widening Your Reputation
Your reputation or job identity travels far through formal and more inconspicuous channels as your reputation can quickly pass through your company and even infiltrate other organisations.
You need to consider how you project your work identity in order to understand which of these descriptions your manager would use to describe you:
Candidate 1 “I will give this to X, she can always be relied on.”
Candidate 2 “No, don’t ask X, he spends too much time chatting-we have a short deadline.”
This job identity can be the difference between you moving forward in your career and feeling stuck in a job role that you start to resent.
Prepare for Job Promotions with a Interview Coach
Starting Your Positive Job Identity
At the beginning of a new role you will encounter a lot of new faces as well as a barrage of questions from colleagues, showing a healthy interest in the new recruit. At the start it is advisable to keep your answers very general so that you have the opportunity to get to know the company’s ethos and practice as well as your new colleagues’ and manager’s personalities.
Once you know the office politics you are in a better position to word your answers and to give your own opinion to ensure the reinforcement of your positive identity. You have already tackled the job interview with success so it can be assumed that your new employer felt confident that you would fit in well with the current workforce and the company image.
If you discover that you don’t like the company’s work ethics or work politics, you will need to start your job hunting again to find an organisation in line with your working practice ideals.
8 Ways to Increase a Positive Job Identity in the Workplace
Start by building Rapport
• People gravitate towards those who are like them, and everyone can find common ground with another person. Fi nd out what your common ground is and use it as an icebreaker.
• By spending time each day asking people about their lives, enquiring about their children, partners, holidays for example, will show others that you are interested in them as a person and not just their value in the workplace.
• Listen intently when others are talking, reassuring through positive body language, nodding and reassuring that you are interested. Don’t interrupt and at the end ask questions
Be an Expert
• People follow authority and experts- you should start by sharing your job expertise. Don’t be embarrassed; people won’t know about your strengths, skills and experiences until you tell them!
• Know what you want to achieve and let others know. Don’t cover your goal in cotton wool, don’t add pleasantries “I hope this is OK with you” as this can sometime make the message unclear.
• You need others to see the benefits and possibilities of your ideas and experiences, so be truthful, and if something has not worked tell them and back this up with what you have learnt from the mistake, this will show you as knowledgeable and that you won’t give up.
Do You Want to be Respected or Popular?
• One of the most critical mistakes colleagues make at work is the pursuit of popularity rather than respect. In a new job we are concerned with how others see us and can easily dwell on this.
• Respected employees rather than popular employees will make you more influential and more likely to gain a job promotion. Body language will often give you away unconsciously if you are looking for popularity rather than respect.
• Avoid feeling pressured to agree with others, instead give your personal opinion using calm and relaxed voice – also smile as this helps others feel you are being helpful rather than just being negative.
Listen to Others
• We all have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.
• Write down people’s names and remember their face, so next time you met you can address them by their name, helping to increase rapport.
• Good listeners gain good reputations- When unsure what someone has said you should feel confident to ask them to repeat themselves.
• Be helpful to your colleagues with work and general tasks, invite people out for lunch, hold open doors, if you help people, then they will feel more compelled to help you.
• When giving suggestions and presenting ideas, explain considering others vantage point, selling what they will get out of it personally not just the benefits to yourself or the company. Plan your timing.
• Don’t interrupt when someone is busy or when they have other things on their mind, as they will not listen fully to what you are saying, in many situations you need to ensure your first conversation gets through.
Don’t Seek Out Recognition
• When you have a great idea, especially when you have a brainwave during a meeting, don’t seek out recognition, allow time for it to find you.
• Don’t get carried away with the pursuit of praise or too excited in highlighting to your manager the creative ideas you have thought up. You need to step back and dissociate yourself from your feelings, leaving your mind free to listen to the details of other colleague’s comments; otherwise you may miss valuable suggestions and your reputation may become one who does not care about other people’s ideas.
Show the Way to your Colleagues
• When you have a great idea, you may need to get others to come along with you. To do this you need to explain what they will gain from your idea and what they could lose if they miss out
• Give people clues, show people the way, prompt them and let them work out how your suggestion will work out, they will feel that they are part of the idea and will start to back you up-you will start to gain a reputation as a team member.
• Don’t be too forceful as this will only work for a small period of time until people start to resent you. People like to feel they have contributed to what they are doing.