Perception can not be dismissed, regardless of how factually inaccurate it is. Marketing experts know and utilize this truth through advertizing that seeks to influence perception, sometimes without regard for reality but sometimes they just want folks to look at a different reality, focus on the benefits rather than the limitations of a service or product. The truth is we’re all in Marketing, from influencing how people perceive us as individuals to how people perceive the organizations in which we are participants.
In the book Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen, the third floor had a multi-faceted perception problem. Their reputation within the bank was damaged in that they were considered very hard to work with and no one within their own company wanted to utilize their services. On the other side of that coin is the perception of individuals who were working on the third floor. They felt unfairly treated and unappreciated. This is one of those Chicken/Egg scenarios…which came first? Both perceptions work together to reinforce the other, figuring out which came first involves the blame game and may be an obstacle to finding a solution.
The solution is always yours to figure out. In other words, we are all subject to the perceptions of others and it is up to each individual or organization to monitor and either reinforce or change the perception others have. The good news is that you can change a negative reputation into a positive one by consciously making changes that will alter the perceived reality of key people.
Whether or not a bad reputation is deserved it has to be addressed. Organizations and individuals must take responsibility for their reputation. Whether you created it or not, take ownership of the problem and find a solution. This can’t be about accusations or the blame game. That isn’t going to change perception…it would more than likely reinforce it.
You have to consciously put perception to work for you…or you may find your weaker competitors have used it against you.