How Important is Your Image?

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Each year at my company, all of our managers will do a peer review assessment as part of their performance evaluation. What this means is that each manager will rate all of the other managers on a number of factors. The end result is a conglomerate snapshot of what everyone else thinks about your skills, performance, service and leadership. It's based purely on subjective perception. Not everyone likes it. This peer review is not the only tool we use to assess performance, but we do believe that it is important for managers to know how the organization generally perceives them if they want to grow and develop in their careers. For those who find themselves at the lower end of the review scale, it is an opportunity to discuss why they are there and what they might be able to do to improve on it. In almost all of the cases, the people with the low peer evaluation scores are also the poorest performers. I used to joke that in management, perception accounts for about 90% of one's probability for getting promoted. If you want to advance within your company, then people across the management hierarchy will probably have to have a positive impression of you. Authors Ori and Ron Braffman have said in their book Sway, that many times we attribute subconscious values or judgements on people based on split-second impressions. If you have ever interviewed for a job, you probably know this. Research says that the interviewer will make a decision about a person within the first five minutes of meeting them. There is something about our perceptions, that when carefully managed, can enhance our careers. So, is your image really that important? Michell Corbett over at Life on Purpose Blog has asked this same question, but from a Christian perspective. In her post, The Keys To Success: Performance, Image, Exposure, she talks about an event she attended where the speaker prompted the audience to answer the following question: Which of these are most important to your career advancement: Performance, Image, or Exposure (P.I.E.)? Michelle's immediate response was to weigh her performance most heavily, followed by image, and exposure. Her P.I.E. breakdown was 60-30-10. But the speaker had a different idea. Michelle goes on to write,

"The speaker at the conference challenged the audience to think of what matters most in pretty much the exact opposite manner. She said that 60% should be exposure, 30% image, and 10% performance. Essentially, the performance part is assumed. The rest is what matters most. I can 100% see that this is how the work world operates. In fact, I went out the next weekend and bought some more suits and scheduled a lunch with a mover and shaker."

Does this blatant self-promotion run opposite to the good Christian values of humility, servanthood and putting others before ourselves? Is there a biblical basis for career advancement? Michelle says, "I am struggling to get there in a biblical way...Am I overthinking this and it is just is what it is?" In Matthew 10:16 Jesus says, "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." What do you think this would mean for our careers?