Does your company have a great external presence but lacks professionalism and good communication internally? You’re not alone: many of our clients grapple with this troubling dynamic. While it is important to show the best side of your company to external contacts, smooth internal operations are equally as critical for a company’s success. Not only can bad behaviour and actions in the workplace foster a negative workplace environment and hinder employee efficiency, it also can begin to influence your external presence.
Encourage the best professional presence in your office by addressing internal issues upfront, even before they start. With this strategy, your Human Resources colleagues won’t have to address issues on a constant basis, and all employees in your office will function on the same understanding.
Below are a few examples of issues that we have come across in our trainings and conversations with clients, as well as reasons why they need to be addressed immediately and tactics on how to do so.
If a staff member inappropriately shares confidential information, not only is this disrespectful to the owner or person to whom the information pertains, but also it can put all parties involved at risk. Additionally, if the confidential material pertains to an external client or partner, it could put the whole business in jeopardy.
This issue needs to be addressed up front. Many companies outline their confidentiality policies in the hiring documentation. If this is not enough to deter employees from breaching the confidentiality policies, then ensure it is emphasized doubly through company-wide email or verbal reminders.
Inappropriate conversations in front of clients
Gossip, arguments, and other inappropriate conversations in the reception area where clients are waiting is an example of negative professional presence in the workplace – and one that can hinder your external relations as well. When clients overhear disrespectful, confidential, or confrontational dialogue in common spaces of the office, this will influence their relationship with your staff and perception of your company.
If employees do need to discuss and work out issues among themselves, schedule a due amount of time to address these in a private space. Advise employees against engaging in serious or inappropriate conversations in common areas.
Use of bad language
Bad language can find its way into office spaces. If employees feel comfortable and familiar with one another, they may begin to speak more casually – sometimes inappropriately – at the office.
While common understanding and strong relationships among colleagues is a good thing, swearing is decidedly not. CBS MoneyWatch published a great article this spring outlining the many reasons why employees should not swear at work, including the statistic that 80% of bosses reported that a cursing employee appears unprofessional, and that employers are less likely to promote staff members who swear.
Among other reasons, these alone should be enough to deter employees from swearing in the workplace. Ensure that your employees are aware of the potential harm that swearing could do to their potential for growth within the company.
Lack of dress code adherence
Like language, when attire becomes too casual in the workplace, it can project a lower standard of professionalism. This affects the internal environment, as an inappropriately dressed employee can send a signal that they are less serious and committed to a standard of excellence than others. Additionally, this is another internal faux-pas that can make its way externally: visiting clients, partners, and contacts will see a lower standard of dress in the office, and may associate this with your company’s business standards.
Again, this is an issue that should be addressed upfront with a company policy. For tips on how to get started and a few sample policies on various levels of dress code, check out our blog post on Top 3 Business Dress Code Policies You Can Implement Today.
A successful company has a great external presence as well as a strong and positive internal environment. Help your company rank among the best by fostering professional presence among your employees.