Fostering a Professional Work Environment – Part II


The mark of a true professional is giving more than you get. -Anonymous

A business woman sits in a professional work environment.As a working professional you recognize the importance of power-dressing in order to make a positive impression on clients, colleagues, and/or superiors. Consider the importance of creating a power-office-one that emits a powerful impression that both impresses visitors and inspires staff.James Ball, president and CEO of The Goals Institute, wrote an article entitled “How to Nurture a Professional Work Environment” published on SmartPros website. In it he said, “When we tolerate unacceptable behavior and do not say or do anything to correct it, we inadvertently establish a new, lower standard of acceptability. . . . It extends to every aspect of our work and lives. When we accept mediocre or sub-standard work or results and do not require that they be brought up to acceptable levels, we inadvertently lower our standards of acceptable quality and performance. Because we took no action, it must be acceptable, right?” In other words, he explains, you get what you expect.There are ways you can establish high expectations and communicate them effectively to your staff. Last week we discussed three ways this can be accomplished:

  1. Establish rules
  2. Practice professionalism and provide teaching moments
  3. Model respect

This week we will cover three final tips on fostering a professional work environment.4. Provide positive reinforcement and subtle remindersNow that you’ve established some rules it should be your priority to enforce them. The best way to do so is to give positive reinforcement and subtle reminders. If you tolerate noncompliance what you’re really communicating to your employees is that these rules aren’t that important to you. The best way to encourage professionalism is to compliment specific instances exhibited by employees. Positive reinforcement, especially when offered publically, can be very effective. And taking the opportunity to remind employees of your expectations is another good way to enforce those rules of professionalism. Using the terms professional and professionalism are subtle reminders as is sharing examples of office professionalism when you see them.5. Invest in a comfortable and professional work environmentIf your office decor consists of neon shag carpet and overstuffed beanbags, you’re certain to get a reaction from your clients; it just won’t be a good one. The furniture you invest in can enhance the level of professionalism in your work environment. When your employees recognize your dedication to providing them and clients with a comfortable and professional space they will be more likely to act accordingly. And when you go to lengths to provide a pleasant work environment for employees they will better appreciate your concern and respect for them.6. Create opportunities for growth and advancementA professional business offers employees opportunities for growth and advancement. Whether that comes through offering personal development opportunities, employee benefits or other incentives, you employees will be more inclined to act professionally when they realize they will be rewarded for it.A professional work environment can go a long way in elevating your reputation. The more polished your office the better it reflects on your services. And the higher your expectations for your employees the more likely they will be to meet and exceed them. And everyone benefits from that.ReferencesBall, James R. “How to Nurture a Professional Culture in Your Organization in Three Steps.” July 2007

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