Monday, April 24, 2017

Business Basics: Professionalism

The contrast between my life in the beauty industry and my life in the business sector is astounding. I used to work in a Human Resources support role for a Fortune 500 company in their Organizational Development department. In that role, I was exposed to training and expectations for their high level executives. The expectations for business professionals is vastly different from how the majority of beauty professionals act nowadays - and its not that beauty professionals have a less important job by any means, its that business and the importance of professionalism isn't even touched  in the beauty industry unless you take a rare advanced training beauty business class.

Look, I get it. This is a creative industry. You did not go to school for business because its too stodgy/ boring/{insert adjective here}. Except you DID go into business - the beauty business.   


Professionalism is a set of character strengths and values directed toward high quality service to others through one's work. It encompasses the skills, knowledge and behavior that you use at work and that you present to the outside world as a beauty professional, even if not at work . Let me repeat that - even if not at work.   If you are representing the company in any capacity - even just talking about where you work to an acquaintance -  your behavior will be judged in relation to your job.

Professionalism isn't how you look, it's how you behave.  It's saying what you mean, doing what you say, and getting the job done.  People who act professionally are regarded better by both peers and clients, make more money and are seen as experts in their chosen field.   People who act professionally are valued by their company. Professionalism establishes boundaries to clients. It promotes respect and minimizes conflicts.

Of course, how you look still matters. Being neat and clean is important in order to look professional. What would you think if you went to a doctor who was wearing a sloppy, stained sweatsuit and had matted, messy hair? Your opinion of their professionalism - and probably their competency - would go down and you might even be uncomfortable seeing them.

Characteristic of Professionals - in ANY Industry

  • Neat in appearance - while professionalism is a set of behaviors, appearance still matters, ESPECIALLY in the beauty industry.
  • Polite and well-spoken but not cocky
  • Reliable
  • Competent in their role and always striving to become experts in their field
  • Ethical
  • Organized
  • Accountable for their actions - they admit their admit mistakes and correct them and don't try to blame others
  • Maintain poise - they keep their calm in difficult situations
  • Respectful of others - customers, superiors and co-workers alike

Professionalism is important, even if you do not work for a Fortune 500 company. By maintaining professionalism, you will go further in your career, make more money and be regarded as an expert in your field.  Its a win-win situation!

Unprofessional Behavior

Unprofessional behavior happens, but a true professional will strive to not let it happen and to minimize issues when it dies happen (to them or someone else in their place of employment.

Unprofessional behavior can include:
I love this picture! from LinkedIn

  • Being late or skipping work.
  • Discussing taboo topics or your personal life
  • Swearing
  • Being defensive
  • Being unresponsive
  • Being disrespectful
  • Not keeping promises
  • Blaming other people
  • Being fake
  • Lying and stealing
  • Poor communication
  • Arguing in front of clients
  • Insults, verbal comments, or criticism intended to belittle or berate others
  • Verbal outbursts
  • Conduct that can be considered harassment or discrimination
  • Verbal or physical threats of violence, retribution, or lawsuits
  • Any of these examples

I highly encourage you to keep reading and researching on the subject of Professionalism and even take a class if you can. It is an extremely important piece of making a viable career that is not talked about often enough in this industry.

Resources and References