Which parts of myself and how much of myself do I bring to work? Unusual questions, you may be thinking. I bring my whole self, of course! Yet there are many facets to our personalities. We all have multiple values, skills, interests, hobbies and ways we express ourselves. How we dress, how we speak, and what we talk about are also ways we express our individuality.
These aspects of ourselves are demonstrated depending on the situation we are in, the people we are with, and our goal or purpose in the moment. As parent, we may show a loving, compassionate, kind, and sometimes firm side of ourselves. As friend, we may be playful and spontaneous. As adult child, we may be patient, respectful and thoughtful. As employee, we get to decide which aspects of our personality, values, interests and personal life we share in our workplace. Most of us would agree that professional behavior is valued in the workplace. But what exactly does it mean to present myself as a professional?
Have you met the Rental Property Office Manager who brings ALL of his selves to work? His ongoing complaints about his health, his work load, his troublesome tenants, and on and on, leave him precious little time or energy to do a competent job. When he makes mistakes in calculating rents, the tenants take the fall. You don’t have to be an expert to recognize there’s a serious lack of professionalism here.
The balance between work and personal life is a delicate one. In these economic times, when there are more job seekers than job openings, we want to manage that work/personal life balance well.
As employees, we are first and foremost valued for doing our job in a way that meets our employer’s immediate needs. The focus is on what the organization needs in order to succeed.
Even in a work environment that is a friendly, inclusive place, where employees are welcomed for the full range of their individual and collective diversity, we have to recognize where the fine line lies between our personal and professional lives.
Sara and her husband had a major family crisis and were up till 4 a.m. talking, crying, problem-solving and making some tough decisions. Sara had an important presentation to make that day at work. After less than 2 hours of sleep, she felt awful, had puffy eyes and a red, runny nose. Nevertheless, she showed up for the presentation professionally suited up. Because she was prepared with tissues, a smile and a “let’s do it” attitude, people thought she had a cold and were none the wiser about her personal problems.
Sara’s professionalism is what carried her through – her commitment to do the best job possible under any and all circumstances. Employers value the job getting done, no matter what, and they value employees like Sara who rise above whatever is going on personally to do their job well.
Hopefully, you are also a colleague respected for your professionalism. That includes being counted on for not gossiping, spreading rumors, or creating conflicts at work. It means that you are not disagreeable, argumentative or negative.
Which “you” do you bring to work? Your professional self—reliably showing up to work, delivering excellent performance and being part of the team, no matter what is going on in your personal life.
By Heléne Kass, Career Coach, Career Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. To learn more about these and other ways JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles, visit http://www.jcsbaltimore.org, or call 410-466-9200. Jewish Community Services is an agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.