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How Professional Are YOU?

• If you’re asking people at work for reminders, chances are that you’re subtly shirking responsibility. Once you’ve been given information, it’s your job to keep track of it. I once had a colleague (who wasn’t my boss) who invited me to remind her of important work deadlines, doctor’s appointments, when she had to pick up her kids, etc. Unless you’ve had a stroke, are a C-level executive, or there’s some other legitimate reason that you don’t manage your own appointments and deadlines—and age alone is not a legitimate reason!—this behavior is probably not professional.


• Having complaints is healthy and normal—be an exceptional professional by bringing solutions to the table every time you bring a problem.


• “Never miss an opportunity to say nothing.”—Norman Hervieux, Interior Design Professional. The second you start chiming in on how awful sew-and-sew is and participating in office gossip, your professionalism is on the line.


• Be willing to get into the weeds with people.  Yes, it will consume some of your time, but the relationship you build with them will pay off later in so many ways.


• Don’t dump projects on people—or consent to playing the dumpee. No one likes to have projects dumped on them without sufficient information. I’m always happy to help but sometimes people drop projects in my lap with little or no instruction. This is a recipe for failure…I know because I’ve tried doing projects on the fly without complete information. It’s nothing less than a set-up and when it happens to you, insist on the information you need to do a good job. I don’t care how busy someone is—if they have time to ask you for help, they have time to share the necessary (ever heard the saying “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”?). It will make you (and the person requesting help) look good later when the project is executed without a hitch.


• If you’re asking someone to act based on information you’re sharing, offer a 1-2 page fact sheet or quick reference guide to assure that your instruction has a deep and lasting effect. Whether you’re training someone in a new task or coaching someone in a task they do daily, keep your instruction brief but support what you’re saying with a guide that people can use when you’re no longer there to instruct them. This will make your words go further and save you time in the long run. When planning your presentation, give some thought to the type of learner your trainee is. Will your trainee learn best through listening? Doing? Seeing? Whatever you do, keep it as short as possible and deliver info in easily comprehensible, bite-size pieces.  Don’t flood people with gobs of paper unless it will truly make their lives easier.


• You might not be a manager, but—in a sense—everyone manages others in the workplace. Congratulate people on a job well done. And when someone’s work doesn’t live up to your expectations, offer feedback but never talk down to people (next time it could be you messing up or not quite meeting the bar)!