5 Secrets to Inspiring Professionalism

Imagine jumping into a complex, high stakes game without knowing the rules-that's what thousands do daily as they enter the business world without an introduction to basic professionalism.

How does one learn to be professional? Most employees have never been trained on what it means. Sadly, many business problems and failures can be attributed, directly and indirectly, to lack of professionalism. This systemic business issue impacts everything from customer service and employee morale to team productivity and business results.

Your employees are the heart and soul of your company so it is important to engage the heart and soul of your employees. Although professionalism includes important external components such as appearance, demeanor, etiquette, etc., there is an even more significant and intangible inner component that must be brought forward. When we speak to the highest part of who a person can be, we tap into the source of inspiration and excellence. Here are five ways to inspire employees to give you the best of what they've got:

Secret 1: Assume that, given the right information, each person is capable of peak performance and professionalism. Whether you know it or not, people pick up on it when you believe in them. It comes out in thousands of subtle and not so subtle ways. The same is true when you don't. It is human nature to live up to what is expected of you. Pay attention to your inner beliefs and attitudes toward your employees. If you seek excellence, see them all as fully capable of delivering it.

Secret 2: Notice what's going right and talk about it-a lot. What you focus on expands. If you make a habit of paying attention to what's going well, you will inspire employees to show you more of that. That doesn't mean that you ignore what needs improvement, it just means that you give as much "air time" to what's working as you do to what isn't.

Secret 3: Invite employees to dream big. What would it look like if everyone was excited, inspired and engaged every day? It is exciting and inspirational to be asked for input on company issues and be a part of the solution. Invite employees to give suggestions on how they can have an individual impact on larger company initiatives like improving customer service or quality control.

Secret 4: Remind people that they are part of something bigger. What are the ways that your company fills a need? Even if your product or service is not very glamorous-there is someone who wants and needs it and counts on it to be excellent. Focusing on the larger meaning of one's work can inspire excellence and engagement.

Secret 5: Give your people the training and information they need to succeed. It's is critical that you clearly define your expectations for your employees. Remember, most employees have picked up the "rules" of the business game by seeing a lot of examples on the job and in the media of what not to do. It's in your company's best interest to give employees specifics on the what, how and why of professionalism.

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