Creating a Positive Perception at Work


I’m at a point in my career where I have lost the strong desire to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. I enjoy my job, have a decent income, don’t travel much, and am not too stressed at work. I have come to the point in my career where I have many tasks on autopilot and am able to shut my computer off at 5pm without having the need to open it back up until the next morning.

It wasn’t always this way. For the past 10 years, I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today. Before we had children, I often worked late, worked at home, and traveled a lot. It paid off with promotions over the years, but with 2 young children at home, it is not worth it for me to pursue promotions actively. That’s not to say I will not accept a promotion if asked, but I am not actively pursuing one.

However, in an industry (pharmaceutical) with decreasing profit margins and more regulations, layoffs are not uncommon. The most productive and value-added associate is treasured while less productive associates are let go. Having said that, it is increasingly important that I at least create the perception that I once did of working outside of normal business hours.  Here are 4 ways that I do this:

  1. Set e-mails to go out early in the morning or after business hours. Since our company switched over to Microsoft Outlook, there is an option to send any one e-mail at a pre-defined time. Often times, I respond or create non-urgent e-mails to go out after 11PM or early in the morning at 5AM. This may be perceived at being deceitful so you will have to examine your heart before doing something like this. I don’t have an issue with it. Microsoft built it as a feature in Outlook for a reason…and I’m up at 5AM anyway.
  2. Stay late or come in early every once in a while. I do this about once every 2 weeks and whenever I do this, I often make myself more visible during this time by scheduling meetings or walking around the floor to chat with other colleagues who often stay late or come in early.
  3. Actually responding to e-mails at odd hours. If you’re surfing the net late at night, check your e-mail once before logging off for the night and answer 1-2 e-mails very quickly. It won’t take much effort, but the perception goes a long way.
  4. Prepare a laundry list of completed, ongoing, and planned activities during your one-on-one meeting with your manager. Properly preparing for a routine one-on-one meeting with your manager can be your most important meeting because it gives the most visibility to your work to the person who can promote you.

When push comes to shove, I have to protect myself and do whatever I can do to stand out from the rest of my colleagues. What have you done to create a positive perception of yourself at the workplace?

About The Author

Edwin is a marketer, social media influencer and head writer here at I Am 1 Percent. He manages a large network of high quality finance blogs and social media accounts. You can connect with him via email here.

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  1. Daisy

    Interesting techniques! It’s sad that we still live in a world where promotions and being a “good ” worker are based on how much time is spent in the office and not on productivity itself, isn’t it? But that’s the way it is.

    1. iam1percent

      Daisy, I agree, but its the way that it is in corporate America. Time has no correlation with results…

  2. PK

    Good stuff – I can say that it’s much the same in engineering too. Since this stuff is worldwide, emails are hitting at all times (and even on weekends). Making myself available at odd hours while home has been successful for me. Of course, no kids yet, haha. I’m sure that will shift things!

  3. Josh @ Live Well Simply

    Productivity trumps time spent ‘working’. But most corporate environments still hang on to outdated ideas of ‘work’.

    1. iam1percent

      Josh, I agree with you 100%. If you get the work done, it shouldn’t matter how “long” you’re in the office, but people still equate the two…

  4. Edward Antrobus

    I can’t really work from home or set hours. But one thing I like to do is present problems to my manager after I’ve already solved them. I do this in an off-hand manner to make it seem like I’m just providing routine updates.

  5. Emily @ evolvingPF

    Sneaky… I like it. My boss is always sending emails in the middle of the night, but doesn’t come to work until noon. It took me a while to figure out that he wasn’t working all day and all night.

  6. From Shopping to Saving

    Besides all of these points (which I think are great at creating the perception), I think actually showing that you are getting shit done and working is very important. Good, quality work trumps someone who is just “showing” that he is working really hard. I’m not sure if it works for everyone but when I talk about what I’ve been doing (essentially complaining about the massive amount of work I have…in detail) I think it gives my SVP the impression that I’m a really hard worker.

    Also forming relationships with the higher ups are truly important, esp in a large corporation. People that make decisions regarding pay and promotion here don’t care if you are sending emails out at 1am on a Saturday night, but they are moreso focused on making those who they are close to happy. Politics, sigh.

    1. iam1percent

      I agree. Sending e-mails at all hours of the night means nothing if you’re not producing positive results.

  7. tom

    One thing to remember when doing the Outlook trick – make sure emails are going out at non-5 min marks, e.g. 10:32PM, 8:14PM, 5:51AM.

    Another great way to keep yourself at the forefront of your boss’s mind are 5/15s. Spend 15 minutes each day documenting what you did for the day, accomplishments, items in work, etc. At the end of the week compile the main points and send them to your boss. You now have a weekly documented accomplishment list that can be quickly consolidated into yearly accomplishments for your performance review.

  8. BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog

    I think another thing to consider is how effective you are at influencing policy whether verbal, non-verbal or email. It’s amazing how positive your perception can be when your opinion is highly valued among your peers.

  9. Kris @ BalancingMoneyandLife

    These are great tips. I actually practice most of them (I don’t schedule emails). Having a work Blackberry assigned to me is both a blessing and a curse – I can (and do!) respond to emails at all hours, although I do not bring it with me when I’m taking my kids on outings. Family time is still more important.

  10. Gail Rogers

    I stay humble and I make it to a point that I get to communicate with all my colleagues to build a good working relationship. I stay late at work almost every day, I wonder why I’m still on the same position? Ha ha! 🙂 Great tips!

  11. Taylor Milne

    These are few great tips to ponder upon, thanks for sharing. I’ll bear them in mind for my own use. I just always see to it that I don’t draw myself too much to work and set a time for my family. They need your time more than your work does.

  12. Philly area

    I would advise against projecting an image that is not an accurate reflection of you as a worker. Stay late, but only if you’re there to do actual work. Like it or not, the only way you can really get ahead (barring affirmative action) is to show you will sacrifice your private life somewhat for your professional life. Pretending to do it is not enough. That means not saying too often in the face of a tight deadline, “Can’t stay tonight. Gotta get my son to his baseball game.” Once in a while is likely fine, but do it too often and you will get tagged as the person without adequate daycare. The nice thing with the smartphones and wireless internet is that most of us can work and attend our kids’ baseball games.

    But it’s every bit as important to be liked by your coworkers and your bosses. Showing at least a passing interest not only in the lives of your bosses but in those of support staff and direct reports will put a human face on you. Often that’s much more important in saving yourself from a layoff than being the guy who sends emails at all hours.

    1. iam1percent

      I agree with the most part, but it depends on the situation. In the “son’s baseball game” example, if there wasn’t adequate time to prepare childcare, then I don’t think an employer would hold an employee responsible. However, if adequate time was given, and that missing out on important meetings is a theme, then it is a hinderance to career growth.


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