As a top-notch performer, you’re well-positioned to advance your career. But there’s more to professional success than just doing a great job. It’s also about being seen and heard in the right way — that is to say, it’s also about how to build a good reputation at work. Sometimes, your behavior can make a big difference in how you’re perceived and how quickly you climb the career ladder. Let’s unpack some damaging behaviors and understand how to tweak them to maintain your professional growth.
Don’t rely just on your excellent work to get noticed. Think of your career as a balancing act. On one side, you have your everyday tasks — the things you already excel at. On the other hand, you need to nurture your ambition to grow, like diving into something cutting-edge, such as generative AI. Raise your hand for fresh challenges, and make sure your boss knows your goals. When was the last time you took on a project with a real risk of failure? If that memory seems distant, it might be a sign to stretch yourself further.
Good communication, especially with your manager, is essential for career growth, and this becomes even more crucial if you’re a hybrid or remote worker. It’s easy to feel out of sight and out of mind when you’re not physically in the office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be just as engaged. Make sure you attend all virtual meetings, even those you’re listed as optional for. If your boss doesn’t already schedule one-on-one meetings, ask about setting these up. These meetings are your chance to discuss where you’re headed and the hurdles you might face. Your manager is there to support you, but they can only do that if they understand what you’re shooting for and what’s tripping you up. Make sure you’re not just another name in their inbox — be a presence they recognize, empathize with and remember.
Office politics can be a slippery slope, so watch your step. Sure, making connections is part of the job, but there’s a big difference between healthy networking and getting caught up in less savory aspects like stirring up conflicts or spreading gossip, which can contribute to you having a bad reputation at work. Be genuine in how you interact with others. Choose actions that reflect well on you and contribute to a positive, open work environment.
Keep a close watch on your workload. It’s tempting to say “yes” to everything to show you’re a solid team player. But biting off more than you can chew can backfire, ramping up your stress levels while lowering your performance. Try to find that sweet spot between being helpful and not overloading yourself. When necessary, don’t hesitate to delegate or ask for a hand when things get too much. This way, you’re not just keeping up the quality of your work. You’re also helping to create a team culture where everyone's ready to lend a hand, and nobody’s left struggling under too much pressure.
Yes, your social media accounts are personal, but remember, they can also be a window into your professional life, especially if colleagues and clients are in your network. Before you share, pause and think — could this reflect poorly on my employer, coworkers or me? And familiarize yourself with any company guidelines about proprietary information you aren’t allowed to share online. For those moments when you need to vent, a family member, a trusted mentor or a friend can be your sounding board.
We all have our off days or even a tough stretch now and then — that’s just part of being human. But ensuring these moments don’t become the norm at work is crucial. Sometimes showing skepticism is fine, but don’t let looking only at the half-empty glass turn into something you’re known for. Allowing negative feelings to take over not only impacts the quality of your work but also your interactions with colleagues. If not checked, this could lead to long-term setbacks in your career. Look for ways to bounce back and stay positive, even when the chips are down. That could mean setting boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance, identifying stress triggers both in and outside work, and focusing on what you can control, not what you can’t. If work-related stress is mounting, have a candid discussion with your managers. They also want you firing on all cylinders, so you may be surprised by how sympathetic they are to your needs. If you find yourself being overtaken on the career track, it’s time for some self-reflection. Are there certain habits or attitudes that are holding you back? The good news is that how to build a good reputation at work is within your control.  Behavior is something you can change, and small changes can lead to big leaps in your career.