Professionalism Can Reflect on the Tiny Little Things a Person Does

I was in three special events last Thursday (03/29) and Friday (03/30). Thursday morning, I invited a senior human resource (HR) manager working in one of the biggest soft drink companies to speak in my HR class. In the evening, I presented in the Etiquette Dinner hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) at Syracuse University. I then attended the 2012 Hospitality Senior Gala Event as a guest on Friday. These three events are different in many ways, but they all remind me the importance of professionalism. When it comes to professionalism, every tiny little detail matters.

Guest Speaker Section in the HR Class

The guest speaker has been working in the HR field for over 10 years. As the HR Business Partner in 2011, she took an active role in merging two big companies into one giant enterprise in the soft drink and beverage industry. Merger means more work for HR. For example, all job descriptions and employee performance must be reviewed, the organizational structure must be redesigned, layoffs (if there is any) must be carefully executed to comply with the employment law and legislation, communications about the merging process must remain transparent to all stakeholders, and strategies must be developed to redefine and nurture a new organizational culture.

While there are already so many things going on in the office, HR managers will also experience more traffic of employees who need assistance, many of whom feel uncertain about their future and want to talk to the HR managers. Being a professional HR, one must comfort the employees who worry about the merger and find time to get the “extra” work done, which entails a lot of attention to details.  The most difficult thing, sometimes, is that the HR managers themselves may also feel uncertain about their future, but they must let professionalism drive them. A true professional should deliver and perform 100% until the last minute when they hold the position.
 
The Etiquette Dinner Hosted by OMA

It was my great pleasure of meeting with a group of student leaders in the Etiquette Dinner. Besides the proper manners for formal dining, I emphasized the three golden rules of dinner etiquette. They include:

  1. We are not there to eat when going out for a business dinner. The focus is never on the meal. Rather, it is about building a relationship, networking, and selling --- either selling a product or service if we are negotiating a contract or selling ourselves if the dinner is part of the interviewing process.
  2. We must follow the host. We should order the items with a price tag that is less than or similar to what the host orders. More importantly, if a host breaks the proper rules for formal dining, we can either continue to follow the dinner etiquette we know without making a big deal of it or do what the host does. The bottom line for dinner etiquette is to make everyone around the table feel comfortable. For more examples of what I mean by “follow the host,” please visit my previous discussion on dinner etiquette
  3. We must be discreet. Everyone deserves others’ attention. The dinner is not about “me” as a guest, and we should not talk loud.   

Dinner etiquette covers many tiny little details regarding table manners. We need to know the details because professionalism reflects on our behaviors.

The 2012 Hospitality Senior Gala Event


I felt very proud of our graduating seniors who planned and ran the gala event on Friday. The turnout was great. Everyone had a wonderful experience, and the feedback was phenomenal. But once again, every detail counts in an event. As a hospitality professional, we know that “99 + 1 = 0” --- we could have done 99 exceptional things for a guest, but the guest may still end up feeling very upset because of one tiny little thing that went wrong in his/her experience with us. Accordingly, many hospitality professionals pay attention to every detail and always strive for perfection.

So, how do you interpret professionalism? What criteria do you use in evaluating a person’s professionalism?

* The pictures were taken in the 2012 Hospitality Senior Gala Event. To check out more pictures about this event, please visit the photo album on my Facebook Page and “Like” my page.

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