Most of us have long- and short-term career plans. They likely include attending particular training courses, getting a higher degree, or taking on particular projects that will fill out our portfolio. Suzanne Updegraff, author, business leader, and CEO of Employee Development Systems, Inc. has valuable advice when it comes to career plans:
“With three decades of training, teaching, and coaching behind me, I am convinced that the real-world value of professional etiquette is invaluable. As a matter of fact, inquiries about whether or not people should seek a higher degree or obtain certifications specific to their field often become a sidebar to the most important aspect of their career -Their ability to manage performance with professional presence and personal effectiveness.”
Here are some of the basics of management etiquette, inspired by Chip Conley, author of How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow.
Practice radical responsiveness! Make a promise to yourself to respond consistently to every issue that you face. What is a radically responsive turnaround time in your workplace? Perhaps one day? Make yours half of a day, and keep your promise to yourself that you will always follow it. Never let your guard down on this one. If all you can do is reply to let people know that you received their information and you are finding answers, then do that. Don’t wait until you have a complete solution. Your immediate attention to “all things great and small” will extend goodwill in every situation.
Make conscious decisions about where you will place your attention. We all want to be heard and understood, and the same goes for your employees and colleagues. Learn to be an intentional listener and you will need much less leverage to garner support and foster higher productivity.
Stretch your gratitude muscle! Use it to thank people for their attention, follow up chance meetings or appointments with a hand-written note, or consciously add a statement of sincere gratitude to your email messages. This simple rule of etiquette will show your emotional intelligence and polish. Here are three rules of gratitude that author, Chip Conley suggests we all practice: a) Make a rule of giving gratitude twice a day at work and if you miss Monday, you need to do four on Tuesday; (b) If possible, express the gratitude in person or in a fashion in which the person can really hear your authentic appreciation; and (c) Be as specific as possible about why this was meaningful to you because just saying “you did a great job” doesn’t create a profound moment of learning for the other person.
Take a breath. Whenever a colleague bursts out with an inflammatory remark or someone in your group is spending energy assigning blame instead of looking for solutions, give a measured response. Always take a breath, so you have time to collect your thoughts and overcome the ‘lizard brain’ that is waiting to take over your communications and feed that high emotional IQ you have to the dogs. Give yourself time by using statements such as, “Really?” or “I’ll think about that.”
Develop the foundation of your professional presence. Professional presence is built on behavior, personal presentation, and business presence. Behavior is marked by the actions others see you do and the words you use in all communications; personal presentation is embodied by your actual appearance and all of the components of how you portray yourself to the world, as well as how you manage yourself; business presence is knowing the right thing to do in business situations. Consider your possible blind spots in these areas, so you can get to work on them.