Why Do Social Workers Need To Protect Their Reputation?
The first and simplest reason is that if you don't protect and define your social worker reputation, other people will eventually do it for you. For good or for ill, the Internet makes it simple and easy to communicate your feelings about a person, and many social workers can find themselves the target of angry relatives or even just people who feel they're "not doing their jobs." While it may not make sense in all situations, or it may not be ethically possible to defend decisions you've made in the course of case work, you should carefully consider what you can do to make sure those reading get the whole story. Social worker reputation management will often fall to you and involve your discretion.
The second reason is that social workers as a group tend to be maligned by the behavior of a few bad apples. Social workers rarely receive positive media in proportion to the negative coverage that can feel all too common. Engaging in social worker image management helps you do your part to avoid being tarred with the same brush as those who suffer ethical lapses in the course of their work. Of course no social worker should be forced to be the sole face of his or her profession, but, for example, if somebody weighs in on a news article with what someone "should" have done, or attempts to accuse all social workers of bad behavior, you can politely explain why that's not the case.Finally, defending your social worker reputation is an odd form of social work in of itself. It must be said that part of the problem with social worker reputation lies with the general public. Social work is hard work, but many well-meaning people only dimly understand what a social worker does, a problem that can be exacerbated as social work crosses multiple disciplines. They often associate social workers with elder care, troubled persons, drug addicts, and other difficult social problems, but may not understand what social workers do to mitigate those problems or the ethical obligations of the role.
Tools For Social Worker Image Management
The best way to solve this problem is to help clarify issues and answer questions where you can, and sometimes that involves interacting with angry relatives of clients or even angry clients themselves online. Being able to comport yourself with professionalism while explaining the situation within ethical bounds demonstrates both the quality of social work and gives a better face to both yourself and the profession. You should also configure alerts around your name and profession so you can see what's being said about you: After all, you can't manage your social worker reputation if you don't know what it is!
ReputationDefender can help social workers with their reputation management concerns. We can help you find and track angry comments about you on websites and social media, and give you effective tools to find and promote positive discussions of yourself and your work. Social work is hard work, but with ReputationDefender, you can make it just that little bit easier.