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What is the importance of professionalism? The first question we should be asking is, what is professionalism? Professionalism is most commonly described as acting like a professional. A professional is defined “ characterized by or or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. So to be a professional you must act professional. This is applied in almost every job anywhere. According to the APS ( the Association for Psychological Science) it takes only 60 seconds for someone to judge you and get a impression of who you are.
How Professional you are can impact a whole variety of aspects of life. Such as how your friends and family view you, or how the people that you work with view you. First impressions are super important in any setting where being professional is key to excelling. In the Marine corps a large portion of what is taught has to do with being professional in and out of work. The skills that are taught about dressing, speaking, interacting, and being proper in and out of work are there for not only while a service member is in the Marine corps, but also for when they eventually get out and have to begin getting accustomed to civilian life and being professional there as well.
How it works
Exhibiting professional behavior isn’t as easy as one might think. It’s not just about doing a good job and exhibiting a stellar work ethic. You could be a star salesperson but not have the knowledge or responsibility of a professional person. Workplace professionalism is a mindset. It’s an attitude. It’s about decorum and respect. It’s about responsibility, knowledge, standards, and ethics. It’s the persona you put out to the world and into your work for others to see. Mastering these skills and making professional conduct a priority will set you leagues apart from your colleagues.
The way a person dresses is in today’s society can give perception of wealth, status, culture, and professionalism. According to Harvard Business Review “It would be nice if looks didn’t matter at all, but that’s rarely the case. “How we show up and deliver our work is as important as the content,” says Amy Jen Su, cofounder of Paravis Partners, an executive training and coaching firm, and author of Own the Room.”
What this is saying is that how we dress is a very large portion of the aesthetic portion of professionalism. The Marine corps has in place lots of rules and regulations to keep a Marine looking professional. The MCO ( Marine Corps order) 1020.34H is the primary uniform order for the Marine corps. I goes into deep length to what type of boots a Marine can wear to keeping our uniforms pressed and clean. In 1020.34H Chapter 1 General paragraph 6 section a it states “Marines are not known just for their battlefield prowess, but for their unparalleled standards of professionalism and uncompromising personal conduct and appearance.
It is a Marine’s duty and personal obligation to maintain a professional and neat appearance. Any activity which detracts from the dignified appearance of Marines is unacceptable. The use of chewing gum, chewing tobacco, cigarettes or the consumption of food while walking in uniform or while in formation are examples of activities that detract from the appearance expected of a United States Marine.” This is just a brief summary of how doing something of such minimal impact to do while in uniform just because of how unprofessional it looks. It takes away from the beauty and stature of our uniforms and appearance and what both those things mean to this country.
The people of this nation don’t need people who look homeless going to serve our nation. The American people need a vision of power, self discipline and something to respect. In the MCO 1020.34H it goes into civilian attire. It guides us how to wear our pants and shirts, to always wear belts, to wear close toed shoes. These simple things all have an effect on how a person is perceived. A good question to always ask yourself is, What are people going to think about how you’re dressed, will they think you’re sloppy and unkempt or are you sharp and presentable?
Mental professionalism is a very large factor when it comes to being a Marine and civilian. Having a constant state of mental professionalism can improve work ethic by a large chunk. The 2012 “Professionalism in the Workplace Study” conducted by The Undercover Recruiter surveyed a national sample of HR professionals, upper class graduates, managers, and supervisors. The study helped to define professionalism and provide numbers to analyze the current state of professionalism in the American workforce.
The questions were aimed at focusing on eight overall areas of an individual pertaining to being professional. The list rated as such goes as follows: Interpersonal Skills at thirty-three point six percent, Appearance at twenty-five point three percent, Communication skills at twenty-four point nine percent, Time management at twenty point eight percent, Confidence at twenty point seven percent, Ethical at fifteen point two percent, Work ethic at fourteen point two percent, and Knowledge at nine point three percent.
As mentioned a large piece, all the way up at twenty-five point three percent, Interpersonal Skills has been deemed as the most essential quality of professionalism. What this means is having the ability to understand and work with others based on information you learn and know about them will help to create a more professional workplace. Six out of eight of the categories mentioned above are related directly to mental professionalism.
Communication is key to any relationship. Professional communication refers to the oral, written, visual, and digital forms of delivering information in the context of a workplace. Effective professional communication is critical in today’s world. Most problems in an organization arise as a result of poor communication. Effective communication ensures a smooth flow of ideas, facts, decisions, and advice.
This way, employees eliminate hindrances in achieving the organization’s target. For Marines, a lot of the time enlisted member are issued orders and are expected to accomplish those orders to get the mission accomplished. However, there are times when a Marine may need extra instruction or explanation on what their superior needs. That is where a healthy relationship between a subordinate and superior comes into place. For junior Marines, they have NCO’s, for NCO’s there are SNCO’s, and for SNCO’s there are officers. This line of communication is called the Chain of Command and it plays an important role in communication in the Marines. The process is in place so less experienced/ qualified Marines are not going straight to higher authority for simpler things they do not to be asked.
This translates over into the civilian world as well such as being an employee and going straight to go the head of a company. More than likely the employee would go speak to the person appointed directly above them. However, in certain case scenarios where a subordinate may not feel comfortable going to their direct supervisor or superior. That is why such programs like Requesting mast and going to you HR representative are in place.
To request mast is a system in place in the Marine corps that more often than not means you are either not believing that your leadership can handle what needs to be said or that they are doing something that is affecting you in some way. This translates in the civilian world to going to your HR representative. For certain situations you may feel you needed to speak to someone else about the situation you’re in. Without communication a professional workplace is hard to achieve and is far less effective.
Time management is a very important concept that every Marine should know well is critical. Situations such as getting to work, formations, meetings, and briefs on time is to no surprise a very important part of being professional in the marine corps. Time management in Garrison in the Marine corps is super important but it also prepares you for going out to the field and how time critical scenarios mean time management is key. Showing up late or being behind is a very unprofessional way to conduct yourself. Being the last one to anything means you’re doing something incorrect. There is a saying in the Marine corps and it goes as follows, “15 prior to everything”.
What this means is you should be where you supposed to be 15 minutes earlier than when you were told to be there. This is used when Marines have Physical Training, Appointments, Briefs, Formations, etc. This teaches professionalism in a few different ways. It teaches you to be dependable which makes you more professional. And it makes you accountable for something which makes you more professional.
Respect is self explanatorily an aspect that every professional should have. There are many avenues of respect. One point to be made about being respectful is having the ability to listen. The ability to Listen is key in the workplace. Having the ability to listen to your superiors in the Marine corps is very important. Orders aren’t generally issued to mess with a Marine. They are there for a purpose and are essential to accomplishing the mission. This translates into the real work like when your boss gives you work and he expects it done by a deadline.
The boss is not doing it to mess with you, they simply require that work to be done. Not lying is another aspect that affects professionalism through respect. If you lie to your superiors and supervisors that makes you liar and that is not professional or respectable. Being a liar in the workplace is very bad and when people find out you lie to them they can no longer trust you and that leads to a less professional workplace. Not making excuses is also a portion of respect that directly relates to professionalism. Nobody wants to be the person that is always makes excuses for being late, not completing work, or doing something that they should not make. Getting things done will make you a much more respectable Marine and person at the end of the day.
Organizations plays a big role in how professional a Marine is. In the Marine corps organization plays a huge role. Rank structure is an example of such organization. The ranks are in place to set up an organizational value and keep Marines accountable. Every Marine at the rank of E-4 and above is in charge or a subordinate and expected to be treated as such. Organization of gear is another piece of this. A squared away Marine with all his uniforms ready, his issued gear all set up, and his room clean is more likely to be seen as professional than the Marine that has gear all over the room, none of his uniforms are ready, and his room having dirt and spills all over the place. If you’re not organized and your mind is all over the place you are less likely to get work done making you a less professional Marine and co-worker.
Language is something ever Marine needs to be mindful of. Words can do a lot in a workplace. A single word said to the wrong person could end a career nowadays. Swearing in the workplace and it is looked at as being unprofessional. Even if the rest of your colleagues are profound potty mouths, it’s best if you don’t join in. You never know who’s in earshot, and if your f*cks and sh*ts reach the wrong ears, rest assured their image of you will be affected. So, before you start swearing in the workplace, think about what your grandma would say.
Using unprofessional language inside and outside of the workplace can lead to situations that no Marine wants to find themselves in. Such as, a sexual harassment case. In the past year, according to Military Times, there have been 6,769 cases reported in 2017 in the military. Of those 6,769, there have been 998 cases alone in the Marine Corps. Just in this battalion, Headquarters and Service Battalion, there are sexual harassment cases reported every other day. A lot of those are because of unprofessional language used which has offended someone in the workplace. A number of programs and services have been put into place to keep a sexual harassment/assault cases private or public. In order to keep a sexual assault case private a Marine must consult with a UVA ( Uniformed Victim Advocate ). However, a case becomes public as soon as said Marine starts telling other Marines, their chain of command, or police officers. Every Marine is a mandatory reporter and there is no exception when it comes to sexual assault/harassment.
Merriam-Webster defines sexism as prejudice or discrimination based on sex. Another definition states it’s behavior, conditions, or attitude that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. To be clear, sexism in the workplace isn’t exclusive to women. Some statistics reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center are one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
In the U.S., one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime, 51.1% of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance, 52.4% of male victims report being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger, Almost half (49.5%) of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian/Alaska Native women were subjected to some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime, 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and nine percent are male, In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator, Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work, Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. While it is important to remember to take sexism seriously, there are cases where it is a falsified report.
According to NSVRC, he prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2% and 10%. For example, a study of eight U.S. communities, which included 2,059 cases of sexual assault, found a 7.1% rate of false reports (i). A study of 136 sexual assault cases in Boston found a 5.9% rate of false reports (h). Researchers studied 812 reports of sexual assault from 2000-2003 and found a 2.1% rate of false reports.
In order to be professional you must be prepared for people to disagree with your ideas and methods. Being in a workplace with lots of other Marines and civilians can cause stress amongst everyone. Marines are naturally Alpha males and Females and we all take criticism and attacks on ideas and thoughts we have to heart. In order to keep a professional workplace one must keep in mind that we may not always be right or somebody else may have a more efficient way to accomplish the mission. Readiness to switch things up even if the original idea was yours is key and allows for a more Professional workplace.
Accepting constructive criticism is also the key to getting promoted at work, because feedback is a crucial part of rising within a company/unit. The ideology that you will get to the top without advice or criticism from people who have been doing the job for longer than you have is ridiculous. Have an open mind, our egos are not our friends. Ego is the force that pushes others away in order to protect not only ourselves but our ideas.Getting snotty about criticism, or lashing out, is a death sentence for your career. You’ll be labeled as volatile and oversensitive, and even if you’re talented you’ll have to be twice as talented to make up for the label of having a bad attitude.
Ladders 100k+ club states, in an article written by Jane Burnett that, “When offered constructive criticism, pay special attention to your body language. Assume a ‘neutral’ posture; keep your arms on the table, in your lap, or a combination of both. Maintain eye contact, and be aware of your shifting weight. Avoid crossing your arms, tightening your fists, pursing your lips, or rolling your eyes.” Now recognizing that keeping calm isn’t going to look like hands on a table but more of hands behind your back at parade rest. But it is still important to keep that one thousand yard stare and stay straight face. Authority can sometimes be testing in the Marine corps and workplace but it is always important to keep your cool and stay respectful.
Tact is a good quality to have if your goal is to be more professional. When speaking to superiors and peers you must speak in a neutral manner that while confident and assertive, it is also calm, cool, and collected. Never breaking bearing under pressure can also show a strong sense of leadership and confidence and that is professional.
Immaturity is a very detrimental quality to have in the workplace. The saying goes “There is a time and place for everything.” Telling jokes and goofing off in the workplace is highly frowned upon and viewed as unprofessional. The workplace is meant to be a serious, get work done environment. Besides that fact Marines are expected to keep serious at all times, and ready for anything. So being goofy and joking around delays not only the mission but also the task hand.
Article “Humor in the Workplace and the Law” by Lahle Wolfe written December thirty two thousand and seventeen states, “A good sense of humor is often an admired trait in men and women. But what defines a sense of humor is something uniquely personal to each individual. What may be funny to you could be offensive to someone else. And, when it comes to workplace humor, what you may think is funny could even be.” So while it is important to stay professional, if a joke is made it is important to make sure it is not inappropriate.
Being professional in the workplace sometimes means helping out others who you see a lacking in specific area. In the Marine corps sayings like “ One team, One fight” and “ No Marine left behind” are used in the context meaning that we don’t let others fall behind or leave anyone to suffer alone. Working as a cohesive unit is what Marines do for the betterment of each other. This prepares a Marine for struggles out in the workplace. Everyone needs at least one person to count on no matter what position you’re in.
When is it okay to let personal matters interfere with your work? Now this is a very trivial question and can be most definitely debated amongst a multitude of scenarios but ultimately there is not a definite answer. According to the Society for Human Resource management “When addressing an employee whose personal problems are affecting his or her work performance, give specific examples of unacceptable behavior and make clear the employer’s expectations for improvement. Bringing these matters to the employee’s attention in a concerned manner will likely allow him or her to realize how personal issues are negatively affecting working relationships and job performance.
One meeting may be enough to resolve the problem, but, depending on the situation, an employer may want to consider other options. For severe situations, the employer may suggest that the employee voluntarily take advantage of the employee assistance program (EAP) or simply remind the employee of the service by providing EAP’s contact information. Using this service would allow the employee an opportunity to disclose personal issues to a professional and obtain a referral as needed for additional counseling, An employee whose personal issues consume him or her at work may be physically in the office but spending all of his or her time dealing with personal problems rather than performing the job.
It may be appropriate to offer such an employee time off work—in the form of vacation or unpaid personal leave—to deal with the issues so that he or she can come back to work more focused,A performance improvement plan can outline areas for improvement and the employer’s performance expectations. For a step-by-step guide and sample format, see How to Establish a Performance Improvement Plan, An employees who is overwhelmed with emotional issues at home may have trouble prioritizing and staying focused at work.
He or she may need extra assistance setting priorities, staying on task and dealing with roadblocks. Allowing time for the employee to vent about issues constructively with a supervisor may be helpful, Mental health issues that affect personal behaviors may invoke the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Communicating with others and even thinking and concentrating are considered “”major life activities”” under the ADA.
If an employee is experiencing challenges in these areas, the employer may have an obligation to engage in the ADA interactive process by asking the employee how the company could help him or her meet the essential functions of the job. Employers should be concerned with the stress levels of employees, as stress has a serious impact on worker productivity. Careful planning and empathy in dealing with employees whose personal problems affect their work performance are useful tools that HR managers should have in their toolboxes.” This in the civilian aspect of things however a lot of this applies to the Marine corps as well.
In the Marine corps, similar to above there is a plentiful amount of resources at a Marines disposal when stress comes on and personal life begins to interfere with work. The Chaplain is a great resource that every unit has. He is a confidential source that a Marine may go to in times of need. Also, on some bases there are behavioral health and therapists that a Marine may go speak to if they feel they need to do so. Also if you wish to speak to your command as a junior Marine you are able to speak to NCO’s about things you seriously feel they need to know such as a death in the family or an illness.
To conclude, for some, being professional might mean dressing smartly at work, or doing a good job. For others, being professional means having advanced degrees or other certifications, framed and hung on the office wall. Professionalism encompasses all of these definitions. But, it also covers much more. Professionals exhibit qualities such as honesty and integrity . They keep their word, and they can be trusted implicitly because of this.
They never compromise their values , and will do the right thing, even when it means taking a harder road. Professionals get the job done. They’re reliable, and they keep their promises. If circumstances arise that prevent them from delivering on their promises, they manage expectations up front, and they do their best to make the situation right. Professionals hold themselves accountable for their thoughts, words and actions, especially when they’ve made a mistake. This personal accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it’s a vital element of professionalism.
They also stay professional under pressure.As you can see from these characteristics, professionals are the kind of people that others respect and value. This is why it’s so important that we work to earn a professional reputation in the workplace. True professionals are the first to be considered for promotions, they are awarded valuable projects or clients, and they are routinely successful in their careers. The Marine corps helps build all of these qualities in all Marines. The tools are there, leadership, guidance, classes, all dedicated to the education and improvement of a Marine and help prepare him or her for the struggles of the civilian workplace and allow that Marine to excel in the workplace using professionalism.
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