In the work environment perceptions quickly become fact whether accurate or manufactured. Slander, inaccurate assumptions of work habits and personal relationships are always fodder for the company gossip. Perceptions in the work environment can easily impact careers, promotions, and retention of employees during difficult economic times. Many times upper management does not have daily or frequent interactions with underlings, and their perceptions of competence leave a lasting impression for future references.
Whether consciously or not, everyone has a personal perception of others in the workplace. Positive or negative, these perceptions are formed by a a combination of observations, including the opinions of others. A consensus view of a particular individual is created by the collective perceptions of those employees having what they deem to be specific knowledge. Unfortunately, due to differences in intelligence not all of those perceptions are correct, and a considerable amount are biased by some perceived personal past slight.
An individual poorly perceived by management at work can find themselves constantly drawing difficult assignments, working overtime, or assigned to less than optimum work spaces. The importance of projects is diminished, because the employee is at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of perceived ability and mental capacity. Even when the employee does something deserving of accolades, their contribution is largely attributed to idiot’s luck. The career path of the employee is blocked by an invisible barrier and forward progression is impossible, frustrating, and not always apparent to the affected individual. Promotion opportunities are withheld from consideration, and the person watches as much less competent co-workers steadily climb the corporate ladder.
Once an employee realizes the overall perception of them in the workplace is less than stellar, it may be too late to repair the damage. It is a long and tedious process to change one’s image in any situation, but in a work environment it could literally take years. An individual needs to question if their image is so damaged that perhaps a change in employment might be in the best interest of resurrecting their career. While this may not seem as a pleasant solution, it may become the only recourse, and a fresh start may shed light on a dark professional episode. While change can be frightening, one must assess if working for an organization that is disrespectful of their talents is worth while.