Saturday, February 12, 2011


In the previous post I mentioned credibility and it's importance but do we know what it is? The word gets plenty of airplay on the news, in articles and in business meetings.

So, lets talk about credibility. In this post we'll define the word, go over how we can earn it, use it and loose it. Credibility is one of the most important tools that you'll need to rely on as a manager. If you understand how it works, and use it to your advantage, you'll find that you receive more respect and you'll be spending less time explaining yourself.

The definition, found in a number of dictionaries, refers to the ability or capability to believe in someone or something. In the business context the word is used to describe trust and respect. To say one has credibility, one has the respect of others in matters concerning specific tasks or responsibilities.

Based on the definition, we can see that this attribute isn't tangible nor can it be awarded; it is earned. To further complicate the definition, it isn't a value that you have any control over; it's purely subjective on the part of others in the group.

How, then, can you work to improve your credibility?

Think of your "cred" as an investment account. The initial deposit was made when you took the job. Remember that old adage about first impressions? If your early actions are of a positive nature, you have a positive balance in the "cred" investment account. If you don't foster a good first impression, the account has a zero balance.

As you go about your job, your 'cred' balance will grow as others see how you conduct yourself and deliver on commitments. The more attention you pay to the quality of your work will result in a higher perceived credibility. Remember, you can't make deposits on your own; your account grows as others see your success.

Now, if positive actions enhance your cred and improve the balance, then bad performance will have a negative impact on the balance.

Once your "cred" investment account balance has risen to a point where it is self sustaining, you'll be recognized for your efforts. Look for promotions, incentives, choice assignments and respect. If you have a series of set-backs, expect your balance to be falling. Instead of rewards you can expect the bad assignments, no respect and can even find yourself on the short list of people who are destined to be let go.

How can you help your credibility grow? I've found 3 keys to improving things:
1. Performance
2. Presentation
3. Personal Qualities

Pay attention to these 3 keys and you'll succeed in building your credibility.

Performance. Simply stated, you do what you were hired for and do it well. You have to focus on identifying the deliverable and meeting that goal. You need to be consistent about setting goals and achieving them. Take into consideration how your work impacts others within the group; your successful performance shouldn't come at the expense of a co-worker. You've got to be a team player.

Presentation. In addition to being able to meet commitments, you need to be able to do it professionally. How you come off when meeting with colleges will impact how they see you and how they perceive your importance.

Personal Qualities. Remember, first impressions count. When you are asked to prepare material for a presentation, keep in mind that the quality of the material you provide will be remembered for a long time. If you're going to a business meeting, you want to be seen in appropriate attire. Additionally, you might want to do a little homework and be ready to intelligently discuss the material and the other party's organization. If you're meeting a new vendor, take some time and review the organization's background, product line, service offerings. You might want to hit up one of the many social networks and find out something about the person you are meeting with beforehand. Efforts like that will find their way back to your management as well as within the vendor community. Your cred will improve.

On the other hand, if you suffer a devastating failure and your cred is used up, take a step back and study the situation before you go off and make things worse. Look a ways that might permit you to salvage credibility. Spend sometime on damage control.

So, to summarize, credibility is a non-tangible asset that places a value on your worth to the organization. nothing else, no magic, no slight of hand nor magic violin. You can help it's growth through your actions in front of your peers. You can also kill any cred by acting out.

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