Yupp and Hip: Professionalism in the Workplace

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 14, 2010)


As Reliable as ABC

Johnny, be good. And he is. He’s the janitor, and though not a lawyer or doctor, he comes to work on time and cleans the floor as told and leaves no stone unturned.

He’s professional. And he’ll keep the Philippine workers’ reputation a formidable force to reckon with (and we don’t have to fear business leaving our shore for others).

Let’s focus then on these twins: skill or competence and character. This is what professionalism involves. One is science, the other psychology. One is reliability, and the other as basic as ABC.

Now, on with the first…

Reliability: begins with skills and competence.

First: Excel in your expertise as expected. That’s how your skills and competence will show and be admired and respected. Know your P’s and Q’s.

You have to be good at something. Work on your IT skills if that’s your field.  Master your debit and credit if you’re an accountant (debit didn’t kill Goliath). As a marketer, manage your brand to make it number one.

Don’t leave anything to chance or luck. If you’re a telephone operator, work hard at pronouncing your words well, modulating your tone, and making a telephone conversation an ecstatic experience.

When your customer asks you anything, provide information that is clear, correct, and complete. Anticipate his/her needs and wants. When they ask for coffee, ask them if they want sugar and cream with it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a janitor. Just be the best CEO or the best janitor you can be.

Second: Deliver services with quality. Conform to standards and pay attention to detail. That’s quality. You arrive at it through the work habits you develop. There’s discipline, initiative, resourcefulness.

The greatest secret, to greatest salesman Og Mandino, is to be a small, measurable amount better than mediocrity, and you’ve got it made.

You fixed your client’s car. Your tools are all over. The metallic clutter stares at you while you’re about to leave. Clean up your mess.

And then there’s time, the scarcest resource. Tardiness cannot be justified.  Laziness will take you to hell. Sluggishness shows ill health.

Once, a new employee arrived late. His boss asked him, “How come you arrived only now? It’s already 10 a.m. You were supposed to be here at 8!” And he said, “Why, sir, what happened?”

Deliver your goods on time. You say you’ll call me back at 8 p.m., then do so. Or text if you cannot. And apologize if you don’t.

Don’t settle for better late than later. Go for better never late (I’m quoting quality service guru Prof. Rene Domingo of AIM).

Third: Be there 101%. If your mind is not in what you’re doing, any virus can penetrate the weak borders of your blurred or bleary brain.

Take the typical case of the teller who’s supposed to be counting your money and then sidetracks to a friend just to ask if she’s had her merienda.

Be present for the customer: i.e. not just one who buys from you, but anyone you deal with. Even your boss or your assistant is your customer.

LL Bean, owner of the hunting shoe company from Maine and often quoted in customer service circles, takes us further. He says: “A customer is the most important person ever in the office, in person, or by mail. He is not an interruption of our work; he is the purpose of it.”

It’s all as basic as your…

ABC (as simple as your character: Adapt, Balance, Care).

Fourth: Adapt to your customers and your workplace. If you’re handling anyone who wants full attention, then give full attention. If a client wants to tell you stories, then hospitably listen.

Adapting means being alert to business culture. I recall my advertising days: I noticed that the copy department was the most vibrant. The president would walk along the corridors and stumble over copywriters lying on the floor. And that was ok with the big boss. As long as they produced their copy requirements on time.

Work in a bank and it’s different. You have to be in shirt and tie and be well-behaved and observe your etiquette.

Fifth: Observe moderation. Balance two ends of opposite extremes. On one hand, you want to show you’re reliable, but on the other hand, you want them to know you’re not a stiff corpse of a nerd.

Don’t joke around when there’s no need. You can have fun without being childish. Care for their needs but don’t be cloying. Be serious but smile when you have to.

Maintain your distance as one serving bosses or clients, even as they go palsy-walsy with you. Still call them sir or ma’am, and say excuse me with eye contact and a smile.

Sixth: Care for people with ethics and integrity. Focus on the key words.  Care means value: your co-worker and customer are people with feelings who need acceptance and fear rejection. Ethics means not knowingly doing harm: don’t mix harmful ingredients in the cake you’re baking for the customer. Integrity means intact: don’t tell your customer that the item was made in the U.S. if it was made in Nicaragua.

Two local words capture these six guides: maaasahan and malasakit. Can you be depended upon?  Do you care for the people you serve?

This is what quality customer service is all about: Reliability and Character (Adapt, Balance, Care).

And so, as a new era in Philippine politics is ushered in, make a vow to be as professional as you can be (we’re known that way worldwide).

Let the spirit of a new beginning flow from the top leadership to every worker in the field. Let the word Filipino be synonymous to world-class: Charice Pempengco, Manny Pacquiao, Efren Penaflorida, and then there could be—or is—you…or Johnny the janitor.

Your macro reflects your micro. Your professionalism at work, more than your skills or competence, in short, is your character.

Long live the professional Filipino!

About the Author: Dr. Dups—international speaker, executive and personal coach, and author—is the managing director of his own consultancy firm, RAdelosReyes Management Consultancy. He does training programs here and abroad (from Bangkok to Guam, USA) to top local and multinational firms, and has written ten books so far (on English usage, business writing, public speaking, and salesmanship). His latest is the trailblazing leadership guide Coach with EQ—and the more-than-just-jokes joke book Laugh and Last (check out National and Power Books), both recently launched. Email him at drdups AT delosreyes.ph (replace the AT with @) or look for his contact numbers in his books.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and Dr. Dups delos Reyes. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


Posted on July 14, 2010, in Yuppy and Hip and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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