Acts of Professionalism Can Super Charge Your Career.
Our careers, business ventures, and professional pursuits are driven by the nature of the relationships we forge and maintain. That is why being professional can pay off for you in all of your professional pursuits.
Often seemingly innocuous acts can have the undesired consequence of alienating others, thus cannon-balling any hopes we have to pursue a successful career, grow a business, or forge stronger relationships.
Following are acts of unprofessionalism to avoid in personal, social, and business dealings if you wish to achieve career, professional, and business success:
1. Avoid Little ‘White Lies’: You know, those insincere comments you let slip in the moment? Comments like: “We should definitely get together.” That translates into: “I have no intention of following up with you.” We do this to avoid discomfort. But those little white lies can and often do add up, to reflect a lack of (perceived) sincerity.
2. Craft Compelling E-Mail Communications: There are many ways to sabotage yourself using email. Some bad practices to avoid include using vague subject lines, not including a “call to action” or statement clearly defining what you are seeking, using long drawn out rambling messages. Also, email is an extremely difficult medium to use since there is no voice tonality to gauge the emotional state of the sender, so being clear with words used to convey feelings are critical.
The worst types of emails are often the ones in which you suggest having a meeting. you may say: “Let’s schedule a time to talk.” This is a really bad communication practice, since you fail to suggest specific days and times you are available. By not providing dates and times you creates a burden associated with unnecessary back and forth, to confirm a meeting day, time, and location.
3. Poor Follow Up: Do you apologize often for taking a long time to follow up? Not only does that send a very poor message, but it likely reveals a much deeper issue you have such as poor time management, disorganization, or inability to manage areas of your business effectively. And people REALLY don’t like doing business with those kinds of folks.
Do you want to be known as the person who almost always remains true to their word? Or do you want to be THAT person who commits to something, and people who know them roll their eyes because they know you will likely NOT follow through? Being seen as reliable ensures people see you as a “Go-to” take charge kind of person who they can do business with.
4. WIIFM Practitioner: The sad truth is most human beings are selfish creatures (it’s in a our nature) who worship at the temple of “WIIFM.”
You may have heard of WIIFM… “What’s in it for me?” Most of us can spot those people a mile away, and are turned off by such behavior.
For example when you are networking, rather than looking at the experience of meeting new people as an arduous (and awkward) task of cultivating “leads” to sell to (acting like a hunter) take a page from the farmer playbook.
Plant seeds by bringing value to your relationships. In the professional business networking organization ‘Business Networking International’ they teach you that “giver’s game.”
Try bringing people together, by making introductions. People who focus on helping others and bringing people together are seen more favorably and others will gravitate towards them.
5. Not Having an Agenda: While we all have “agendas” or goals and purposes in our dealings with others, we often fail to provide people with actual agendas.
You should get into the practice of always providing an agenda when you schedule meetings with people. Not using agendas for meetings and calls is a tremendous lost opportunity. By providing agendas you can maximize meeting time, help others prepare for conversations with you, do necessary research, have answers, and generally know what your desired outcomes are.
6. Last Minute Cancellations: Look, it is a fact of life in this fast paced world with so many work-life balance challenges we can get overwhelmed, over-extended, and struggle to manage our schedules. Sometimes, you have to cancel on people. when you know you cannot honor scheduling commitments it always helps to give people as much heads up as possible, and if you need to cancel, then it is your responsibility to provide make up dates and times.
And this leads me to the next act of unprofessionalism…
7. Not Apologizing: Look, it is always a good practice to simply say “you’re Sorry” when you have to cancel/reschedule. Don’t make excuses. We all have them. Simply say “I’m sorry” and suggest reschedule dates.
8. Procrastination: This is a tremendously dangerous self-inflicted wound. By putting off the unpleasant tasks we create a ripple out effect by creating chaos, scheduling challenges, missing deadlines. Break up daunting projects into manageable parts, and start early to give yourself ample time, esp. when you hit a roadblock midway through the task/project or get bombarded with other unexpected tasks.
9. Being Insincere: Nowadays with online communication including chat and “social” media, it is easier than ever to be someone else online. But when you misrepresent yourself, you are not building an accurate reputation. When people meet you “face-to-face” they will be turned off that you misrepresented yourself. That creates ill-will and can destroy your brand.
10. Overextending: Sometimes we get so caught up in the helping that we end up committing to too much and then may have difficulty seeing projects through to completion.
There you have it. My top 10 list of ways you can maximize your professionalism. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, perhaps even your own pet peeve?
What do you think?
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan BIG.