Corporate Question
April 10, 2012 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Our department is small among many departments in the company. We are not very highly perceived, although this is not the truth. How could we improve that.
posted by amostafa10 to Human Relations (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What does your department do? What industry are you in?
posted by box at 7:49 AM on April 10, 2012

You need a vibrant, well-received manager to represent your department and its strengths at cross-group meetings. You need some important projects to be delivered with spectacular results, or contribute key items to larger projects. Please note, these are general ideas, not much info on what industry/department means that I can't be more specific.
posted by kellyblah at 7:50 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

As Kellyblah mentioned, you really need a champion to defend, publicize and keep your department on the radar of the rest of the company.
posted by THAT William Mize at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2012

We improved our business unit reputation, respect and visibility by doing a "roadshow" of sorts where we meet with our internal clients both at the main office and at plant locations. We give an overview of our department, our policies and answer questions. It's a small investment every 2-3 years that has paid major reputation dividends.
posted by lstanley at 8:04 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

First you and your team need to stop using each other as a sounding board for your gripes. You and everyone else in the company is super awesome and special.
Second you need to stop thinking about how super great your team is and how misunderstood you all are.
Third, look at how you all present yourselves to the company at large. Do you project a smug, member's only egotistical attitude? You might be doing this without realizing it. It's common to high-pressure, high-functioning teams that collaborate with each other well.

It really could be that you need to re-define how your team takes work in, and make sure that you are communicating in a friendly, up front way with everyone and making sure any expectations that are set, are well, met. If you can't meet them, reset them before it becomes an issue.

I've found that bad perceptions can usually be fixed in small "micro transactions" over a short period of time as opposed to some grand gesture of a benefit that will come at some point in the future.

Buckle down, answer emails, smile and close those work queues out with a friendly attitude and your group will do wonders for your perception.
posted by roboton666 at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be awesome to the mailroom, PBX and central facility management staff. They are de facto in charge of facility wide unit perception.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:38 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

To follow up on roboton666's great comment: who are your internal customers and to which groups are you a customer? Work to make these relationships better. Figure out how you can serve your customers better and how you can be a better customer to someone else.
posted by mmascolino at 8:55 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try listening to your colleagues who have complaints about your department. Start with the assumption that their complaints are real issues that you need to address - either by 1) improving your processes or 2) improving your communications about what customers should expect and why.

No matter what, do not go forward assuming that the problem is everyone else (why don't they just see the truth of how great we are? How can it be that all these different people have gotten the same, totally false, impression of us?).
posted by Ausamor at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2012

I suggest working on teams or networking with others in other functions/departments individually. If you hang out/go out to lunch constantly with only people in your department/dont involve yourself in activities with other departments, people may perceive your group as standoffish causing your group's bad reputation? So each individual reaching out individually to other groups may help combat that?

It's worked for our group.
posted by xicana63 at 10:08 AM on April 10, 2012

We are not very highly perceived, although this is not the truth.

It sounds as though what you're saying is that you believe other people in your company view your department less positively than members of the department view themselves. There are two big reasons this could be the case, one of which is based on wrong facts and the other of which is based on negative opinions. Thankfully, both are fixable.

A negative reputation based on wrong facts could include things like misunderstandings about what your department does or is supposed to do. So, for example, if everyone in your company thinks it's your department's job to keep widgets in stock for everyone's use, and it's actually not your job, but they're all blaming you for the lack of useable widgets, you need to figure out whose job it actually is to stock the widgets and you need to make sure that everyone in the company knows that it's their job, not yours. If some other departments think that they have final veto power over external communications, they're going to be sore when you send stuff out without asking them, so you have to make sure that everyone agrees on who has final say so that they don't get angry about the perceived ignoring of the chain of command. Basically, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page and has accurate ideas of who reports to whom and what responsibilities belong where.

The other sort of negative reputation is less fact-based and more opinion-based. If, for example, there are people in your department who are perceived as unfriendly or mean or not team players (whether you agree with this assessment or not), that's going to make other people in the company reticent to work with your department. If your boss doesn't make nice with the other bosses, the other bosses might tell their people that your department is hard to work with. It can be little things, like attending holiday parties and taking your turn covering the reception desk and inviting people outside your department to lunch. I once worked at a company where IT was considered to be a terrible, nasty department because all their employees answered email primarily by Blackberry, so they tended to be short with people and omit niceties like "please" and "if there's anything I can do to help, just ask." They were perfectly nice, but because they didn't observe those social graces in an effort to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, people perceived them as being short with people and not being team players. They had to make more of an effort to reach out to people to get in good with the rest of the company so that everyone understood that their shortness was just txt speak, not rudeness.

There are two truths here. The first is the actual value your department provides to the company. However, your reputation within the company is its own truth. That is, whatever other people believe about you may be unrelated to the value you provide, but it is true that people hold that opinion. Your work does not always speak for itself, particularly if there's a corporate culture that you haven't fallen in line with. Right now, it is true that other departments perceive your department negatively. You need to find out why that is and then work on fixing those things, even if your actual work output stays the same.
posted by decathecting at 1:29 PM on April 10, 2012

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