The New Year started on an extremely high note for me. The first full week of 2014 had me caravanning from city to city across eastern Kansas on a road trip with a group of friends and fellow professionals. For the second consecutive year, I joined a group of executives and safety professionals for Westar Energy’s 8th Annual Company wide Safety Tour. I got to talk to professionals of every kind about actions professionals practice in everything they do, from safety and beyond. To encourage and equip the Westar team — and anyone else wanting to improve their professional reputation — here are four actions professionals practice, with a couple thoughts to consider for each.
1. Always offer your assistance.
Most of us are willing to help a friend when asked. Occasionally, we’ll even offer assistance to a colleague, possibly even a stranger, if their need is great. But can you honestly say you offer your assistance every time, whether the need is large or small and whether the person with the need is known or unknown, liked or disliked by you? When you do so consistently, it becomes a means of proving your professionalism to all you encounter. Believe me, do so and you’ll stand out in a crowd.
2. Take a minute longer than necessary.
Most of us recognize that we rush through life on a mission. We’ve got places to go, people to see, things to do. Okay, I get that. But, before rushing away from the current task or interaction, how about pausing for one extra minute to survey the situation to be sure there isn’t some little something more that could be done to make the exercise or the encounter just a little bit better or more special. In that minute, could you offer one more word of encouragement to someone who needs and would appreciate it? How about spending an extra sixty seconds or so rearranging and re-staging the workspace for the next person who will labor there? Or might you invest that minute documenting what you’ve just done so there is a tangible record for others to review?
3. Do more than expected.
Always striving to do more than is expected yields numerous positive results, possibly the most practical being this: if you always do more than is expected, you will never have to worry about a personal evaluation again. Why? Because you are always exceeding expectations. While others struggle to figure out how to do just enough (or less) to get by, professionals consistently do a bit more. Doing so shines a bright light on your professionalism. Doing more than is expected may not put you in a class all by yourself — but it sure won’t take long to take roll.
4. Don’t whine, don’t whisper and don’t wonder.
Let’s be honest. Nobody likes to listen to people whine. Some may pretend to care about whatever it is that you’re whining about, but they really don’t care. So just stop it. And while you’re at it, stop whispering, too. Stop getting in little groups to privately dissect every decision or to debate the intent of every action. If you really have something of value to share, tell everyone, not just a small select group. And if you’re whispering because you don’t understand something, stop whispering and stop wondering. Go ask someone for an answer, for information or for clarification. Open, honest communication is a hallmark of professionalism.
These were just four of the actions professionals practice that I shared with the Westar team — stay tuned for the rest of the list.
I would like to hear from you — what practices have you found to build a solid reputation of professionalism? Please share.