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Beware of Being Too Comfortable


Somewhere between the boomer and the gen-xer generations we slid into the dark place where being comfortable is seen as a desired way to be.  It is in sync with the pervasive “it’s all about me” attitude that we see so prevalent in our society today. Being comfortable lulls one into a false sense of security and complacency.  In a time when there is high competition in the job market, being too comfortable can lead to one’s professional demise; and it’s leaving companies today screaming for more professionalism as they need to build their bottom lines.

Let’s look at where ‘being comfortable’ in our attire and attitude has affect the workplace.

Businesses have long proclaimed an increase in conflict and bad attitudes on casual Friday.   Management has learned that with casual-wear comes an automatic release of a more casual approach to everything; that includes more bad language, poor conduct, a more casual approach to accepting authority, and a decrease in the motivation for performing at one’s best.  Byproducts of this are:  ineffective management, gossip, backstabbing, increased conflict,  poor internal and external customer service, and fewer promotions/sales resulting in a lower over-all productivity.   After all, as when one doesn’t have pride in oneself, how can one have pride in the work they do?  When one is feels schlumpy, sooner or later they’ll relax and act the same way.  

The Pendulum is swinging.  Larger and smaller businesses, alike, are raising the bar on their workplace expectations regarding professionalism. At one financial industry, a vice president says she keeps a supply of band-aids in her desk drawer.  At the first sighting of a tattoo, she approaches the employee and places the Band-aids over the tattoo.  She stated that her employees know their dress code does not allow visible tattoos, but they don’t always follow the rules. And, as she further explained, ‘Working with the public like they do, we cannot have them turning people off and risk losing customers.”  

The one challenge organizations face, like the example above, is that just citing new rules doesn’t always bring the desired results. Employees need to have it translated into a benefit for themselves and be told what a difference professionalism can make in their own lives. In essence, people need to be trained.  Large numbers of the workforce today, despite all of their degrees, have not been educated in the merits of professionalism.

To start raising the bar on professionalism in your organization:

1.  Start using the word “Professionalism”  and integrate it into your meetings.

2.  Provide a Handbook on the subject (Example: 193 Survival Tips for a Professional Image, available att Books & Co./also available in bulk).  By having a ready reference handy and visible, it serves as a reminder and  re-enforces the expectations given by upper management.   Most people need  7-21 positive influences in order to override one negative thought or bad habit. 

3. Either through departmental meetings or having a professional consultant work with employees, employees need to understand why it’s important to them personally. Convey the message that an image of professionalism encompasses more than just attire.  It’s a matter of  appropriate conduct, attitude, and character; and it can have a powerful effect on one reaching his or her career goals.     

There is something about dressing in business attire and exuding professionalism that brings out the best in people and, that pays big dividends to both the individuals and to the organizations themselves.

Donna “Kinza” Christenson, The Performance Pro

“Building leaders & Enriching meetings”

262-567-6317 *

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