The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

how to raise the bar on professionalism

In a recent training class, one of the organization’s leaders asked this question:  “How do we raise the overall level of professionalism in our office?  How do we raise the bar in terms of how we talk to each other, how we treat each other and, of course, how we handle our customers?  We have worked together so long and know each other so well, but we have gotten too comfortable.”

My answer:

A)  It is the responsibility of the leaders in the company to set the tone for what is acceptable and what is not.  Further, the leaders have to be diligent in sending the message that professionalism is required in one’s conduct recognizing that a large bit of education may need to be offered. Note the cartoon above. It will help to simply remind everyone why they come to work every day and what purpose they serve for the overall good of the company.

b)  The physical environment should reflect this desire.  Desks should be tidy with only a few personal trinkets, garbage cans should be emptied every day, and employees should be mindful about what they bring into the office (their lunch cooler, for example, should be clean and presentable if it will be visible all day).

c)  Special occasions should not be the time to let the rules bend.  It is during these infrequent situations that offer management the chance to remind everyone that decorum and appropriate behavior are expected every day.  Consider off-site meetings.  You would not want to relax the dress code and have your business be represented by flip-flops and tattered jeans out in the community.

d)  Most businesses experience angst over the attire of most of their staff at some point or another.  It is the prerogative of any company official so set the dress code rules anyway they want.  The more conservative, the more professional.  Simple as that.  Be mindful, however, of your customer base.  Will the dress code enable your staff to connect with any potential customer that walks through the door?

These answers sparked a very productive conversation with the others from that company.  They agreed on specific characteristics in their environment that set a tone different than what they would prefer.  They will be putting in place guidelines that will, no doubt,  elevate their presence in the industry.




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