When I was 10 years old, a large part of our school’s fifth grade graduation ceremony involved singing songs. I will admit to not remembering very much from that day, but one memory which has stayed with me to this day is our rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” The song has very much remained one of my favorites because it sends so many important messages.
The song’s main messages include the importance of having dignity and self-respect. If you want your life to have meaning, start by making sure you stand for something regardless of the challenges this may require. Developing and practicing dignity and self-respect is the foundation upon which everything else is built upon, including your career.
In the field of project management, resting all your techniques and methodologies upon a foundation of dignity and self-respect will give you and everyone around you tremendous trust and confidence.
Here are 12 ways to kick-start your quest for dignity and self-respect at the project workplace:
1. Put the client’s interests ahead of your own. You are where you are because the client needs you. Strive to deliver more value than expected. You will be rewarded for it down the road.
2. Be honest. Stay independent and have the courage to tell the truth as you see it regardless of the popularity of your views or the effect on your fees.
3. Build integrity into sustainability practices. Your role impacts people’s lives. Be conscious about the effect your decisions have on the people around you and align your decisions closely to what you believe is right. Uphold integrity and show respect to customs, cultures and deadlines. Start your project plan with a self-assessment survey.
Know the marketplace in which you are operating.
Set clear expectations for ethical behavior.
Hold employees consistently accountable at all levels.
Continually assess stakeholders.
Do the right thing, especially when nobody is watching.
4. Forget about the Joneses. Don’t get caught up worrying about how you will impress. Concentrate on being yourself and let your work ethic, solid planning and execution skills do the impressing for you. Everything else will take care of itself.
5. Provide Opportunity. Give everyone the opportunity to add value as individual leaders amongst a group of leaders. Acknowledge hard work. Be a believer in the power of teamwork.
6. Learn to handle criticism. Although it is human nature to be emotional, allowing emotions to rule a project is usually a recipe for disaster. Rely on facts and don’t take criticism personally. Because most criticism is meant constructively, take the opportunity to instead reflect and learn from it. Then move on.
7. Keep up time. Respond to emails on time and show respect for requisitions, help or clarification requests. If you cannot respond in a timely fashion, acknowledge receipt of the communication and prioritize your responses as quickly as possible.
8. Resist gossip. Gossip is a bi-product of human nature and running into it is usually unavoidable in the workplace. But you can most certainly avoid engaging in it. It is not productive and is rarely ever helpful. It can cause issues where there are none. There is a right and wrong way to network and obtain information –via gossip is the wrong way.
9. Define the line between personal and business relationships. Resist the temptation of having personal relationships at the workplace. They can affect your performance, impair your judgment and create an uncomfortable environment for everyone around you. Know your limits, draw your line and be professional at corporate outings and events. If you work a lot more than you live and feel the workplace is the only platform available for you to have a personal life, consider restructuring your priorities.
10. Don’t be a slave to fashion, but do take care of yourself. Surely looks are not everything, but know that the way you handle them tells a lot more about you than you might imagine. There is no need to be a slave to fashion trends, but do mind your appearance. Dressing smart for the right occasion shows respect and gives self-confidence.
11. Forgive yourself and others. Mistakes happen. Recognize this, learn from it and plan for it. Forgiveness is not a weakness nor will it change the past, but it will most certainly change the future.
12. Be humble. The road to having self-respect is not through a bloated sense of pride. Remain humble through your success when you are praised for your work. Stephen Dorff once said, “I guess what I learned most was to feel lucky with what I have been able to accomplish and what I have and to feel humble about the people I have been able to work with.”
Demetrios Gianniris is Director of Project & Technology Management (PTM) at Eze Castle Integration. He is responsible for overseeing the daily administration and operations of the Project Management team, including project design development, construction management, professional services and information technology consulting. Follow Demetrios on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dgianniris.