Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & HR Policies /

Americans were glued to their TVs or computers awaiting the verdict of the Casey Anthony trial on July 5. The media and subsequently millions of Americans who had already found her guilty were shocked when the verdict was announced. Anthony was acquitted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

This verdict sparked anger and outrage from spectators. Days after the verdict was announced, even jurors admitted they wanted to convict her, but the evidence just wasn’t there.

Instead, Anthony was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of lying to police. Each count had a maximum jail sentence of one year. Even though she was sentenced to four years in prison, Anthony had already served three years in jail and got credit for good behavior. The judge set her release date for July 17.

Sunday night at midnight, Casey Anthony was released from an Orange County jail in Florida.

Now, starts the hard part: rebuilding her life and image.

Anthony’s life will be under a microscope. She’s received everything from death threats to marriage proposals. Amidst all this, Anthony must attempt to establish some sort of stable life.

While most business professionals cannot relate to the immensity of Anthony’s situation, they can relate on some level. Exactly how you may ask?

Damage control. When something goes wrong in a company, someone is usually made to be the scapegoat. Everyone looks for someone to blame, whether it is the floor manager who messed up a project or the CEO whose financial decision lost the company millions. But what if you are found not guilty (like Casey Anthony)? How do you restore your innocence?

This situation calls for a serious lesson in managing your image.

Whether the problem is as a big as a murder investigation or as small as a typo in an important document, follow these steps to survive the aftermath.

Steps To Manage Your Image And Restore Credibility:

Recognize it’s going to take time.
You can’t change your image over night. Be patient. Try not to get frustrated when it takes longer than expected. In Anthony’s case, it may take years for her to rebuild her image. It may never happen. We all know how its human nature to hold a grudge (example: O.J. Simpson), and there is nothing in our culture as sensitive as the perceived abuse to a child.  However, people can change others’ opinions of them, and to do so requires behavior that is patient, reliable and, most of all, consistent.

Lay low.
Depending of the severity of the situation, you may want to keep quiet for a couple days or weeks. Let the storm blow over before you try to patch things up. For Anthony, she may need to lay low for months before reemerging. Experts say she should get out of the public eye and seek counseling. We have a feeling that she may not follow this step (with media outlets already knocking down her door for book and TV deals). But if you want to be taken seriously, keep quiet for a while before going on to the next step.

Take steps to show who you really are.
For Anthony, this may include sitting down with a beloved TV reported like Diane Sawyer or Katie Couric to show the world that side of her we haven’t seen. It is going to be easy for people to think of you as guilty as charged, regardless of the verdict. For bigger problems, you should make a public statement or write a press release stating your innocence and what you plan to do to make yourself better. On a smaller scale, you can talk to your co-workers individually. Ask someone to coffee or chat up people in the break room.  Show people you are not the evil person they have made you out to be.

Tell the truth.
In your public statements, press releases or coffee dates with co-workers tell the truth. By sharing the truth, you can build relationships that will help you get back on your feet. You need to build a support system to help you dig yourself out of this hole. Two shovels are better than one. It is going to be hard for Anthony to create a support system. She alienated herself from her family by the lies that eventually were her convictions. Maybe seeking counseling should be the first step for Anthony to reconnect with her family.

Show empathy and compassion for the loss.
Whatever the situation, you must show that you understand the extent of it all. In Anthony’s case, she needs to mourn the death of her little girl, and others need to see this, as private a thing as that is. In your office, you need to show that while you may not be at fault, you understand the travesty of losing millions in a bad investment. You cannot ignore the problem, even if you aren’t responsible, and you can’t act as though it does not affect you while it is affecting those around you.

Remember to be a person.
Don’t let the misconception control your life. Make your co-workers see you for you. This can be as simple as putting pictures on your desk of your family to show a glimpse into your life outside of work. Inviting co-workers out to lunch to discuss topics not related to work. Don’t forget to be yourself. In Anthony’s case, she needs to show people she is an ordinary 25-year-old. But we don’t think she should go back to partying like she was before. She should start getting her life back together by finding a place to live, creating a strong support group, and getting a job to support herself.

You may think this is all easier said than done. And it is. But remember our first tip: It takes TIME. And there is no guarantee you can get back to normal – normal may end up being re-defined for you. But you should do everything in your power to save your image.

In the case of Casey Anthony, experts say she should be relocated and change her appearance and name. You may not be able to do the same at your company and you shouldn’t have to; although, of course, there are some mistakes individuals make that are impossible to overcome and do require a change of scenery in order form them to remain productive and healthy in their career.

If you follow our steps, you should be able to restore your image and make up for lost ground at your company. Show everyone that you are a valuable asset to the company. After all, we all make mistakes.

If you are having problems with the employees at your company, the professionals at Integrity HR are here to help. We are experts in handling any type of problem that may occur at the office. Contact us today.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.