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NEWS | Oct. 12, 2016

My professionalism top 10 list

By U.S. Coast Guard Commander Martha Rodriguez Coast Guard Sector Charleston

As members of the military profession of arms, we have the responsibility and obligation to conduct ourselves accordingly. Below is my list of the top 10 behaviors to ensure professionalism in the workplace:

1) Respect other people and yourself:  Conduct yourself respectfully and in a manner that you would be proud for someone outside of the organization to witness.

2) Look the part/speak the part: Keep your uniform within standards/dress appropriately.  Your appearance communicates how much you care about your job and your customer.  Do not use foul language; use proper English, and speak clearly.  Learn how to spell correctly; work to develop better writing skills. 

3) Tell the truth: Be accurate, be realistic, be up front.  Your professional reputation will suffer if you are known as the person who bends the truth or is not forthcoming.  This will eventually impact your ability to be effective at your job.

4) Be a good communicator: Ensure your customers feel they are important by fostering and maintaining good relationships through your communications.  Proactively communicate with your customers, ask for their expectations and share your limitations.

5) Be responsive/be present: Know who your customers are; today it may be your boss; tomorrow it may someone else in your organization.  Know who you are working for and be responsive to their needs.  Let them know when you are available so you can manage their expectations.  If a customer requests something and the request can’t be fulfilled, let the customer know and be prepared to offer a solution. 

6) Be organized: Think about how you organize your work and your day.  Have a plan and try not to let email dictate your schedule.  Set goals and strive to achieve them. 

7) Use technology judiciously:  Take care to use technology appropriately for the work environment.  Remember the use of email, instant messenger and telephone is important but it does not always replace face to face meetings.  If you can meet in person, do.  If someone emails or calls you, get back to them.  Use the tools available, but be smart about it; remember you have no expectation of privacy on government systems. 

8) Meet deadlines: There is rarely a valid excuse to miss a deadline.  Plan and make preparations well in advance of a deadline. Factor in emergencies and unforeseen contingencies, because inevitably, they will happen.

9) Take care of yourself so you can take care of the customer: Take care of yourself and your family so you can be available for the people who need you at work. Communicate your limitations to your supervisor.  You cannot be responsive to your customer if you are not well.  

10) Be humble: Humility is the key to success.  Remember to separate your own personal pride from what is necessary to get the job done.  Learn how to ask for help. Eventually, we all need help from someone.  We will succeed when we work as a team.