It is not always possible or practical to divorce your professional identity from your personal identity. Sometimes they are one in the same, or they are too intertwined to distinguish between. But, on rare occasions, it is completely conceivable for an individual to maintain identities that exist separately in workplace and recreational contexts. These rare occasions are, in my experience, when a personal is most likely to succeed in the workplace.
I am not suggesting that one must alter, refine, or obscure certain aspects of their personality to fit the role of “the perfect employee.” On the contrary, I believe possessing the cognizance of when a certain set of behaviors or beliefs are inappropriate or unnecessary to display in the workplace that one more comfortable assumes the role of “the perfect employee.”
It is a time-tested truth that no social setting can exist without a status quo, and that opposing the status quo or attempting to change it, yields no results—with the exception of oppressive or bloodthirsty regimes. But the office is a far cry from Rwanda in the Spring of 1994, management does not even remotely resemble the akazu, and your boss cannot be compared to Robert Kajuga; to complain, while you are on the clock, about the break room injustices and parking garage massacres you are subjected to is a massive violation of the contextual norms of professionalism.
A little airing of grievances around the water cooler is an expected and accepted occurrence in the workplace, but it should never extend beyond mere words—and, if one of the participants were able to leave their personal identity in their personal life, and exist only in their professional identity while in their professional life, then that individual would never find grievances to air solely for the sake of adhering to the status quo, but rather because they wished to maintain an environment that perpetuated professionalism, or because they believed that they had a solution to a genuine problem.
A well-maintained and fairly balanced status quo can benefit every employee, and an employee who sticks to it, rather than vehemently disparaging it, may even go as far as to encourage other employees to work harder and strive for excellence, in hopes of recognition, promotion, or opportunity. In professional contexts, professionals are expected to perform in a specific manner or demeanor. Doing so not only reflects positively on the individual who respects these contexts, but can also have a positive influence on other employees who wish to advance in their profession, and sees others doing so by following the status quo, not fighting against it.
Nearly anyone who has held a job for any amount of time, despite the field, has heard the colloquialism, “Leave your baggage at the door,” and in the instance of professional versus personal identity, it has never been more true. The workplace is a setting with high expectations, quotas, and standards, and to succeed in such settings, one must act as the situation commands: with a professional demeanor that is not influenced by outside events.
Featured image taken from Comedy Central.
3 thoughts on “Who is the Perfect Employee?”
Grace – I really think you nailed it on this one. Your introduction gave me a clear understanding of where you are going with this blog post. I agree that a person is most likely to succeed in the workplace if they know how to maintain the separation of personal identity and professional identity. I liked how you covered your bases by acknowledging what others may counter-argue in the second paragraph (I lack this technique in my blogs, so people misunderstand me). Also, I do think that having the conscience to know the differences between behavior inside and outside of work contributes to professional appearance because it shows that that person has some common sense, which I would argue is not so common anymore.
As you emphasized later on in your post, adhering to status quos is essential to success and can have positive influences for employees who wish to advance in their profession. I keep thinking about Netflix’s House of Cards because politicians are the perfect example of the correlation of status quos/adaption and advancing in their fields. In addition, as you pointed out in the last paragraph, one must respond to situations with a professional manner that is not influenced by outside events; this brings me back to a quote from HoC that Claire Underwood tells her husband, “when we care too much, it blinds us,” referring to his compassion and willingness to help an old friend that may get in the way of their professional appearances and create a barrier to their goals.
Overall, your post was logical and the narration was creative – Love reading your stuff!
I definitely agree with your stance on the importance of keeping it professional and leaving whatever baggage it is that you have at the door. It is always a great idea to come to work with your “work face” and try not to get too personal even with coworkers. Your coworkers are not your friends or family members no matter how small or how big the business is or how close you think you might be. You may get fired today as a result of something you say in private and they of course will still keep their job and move on. You are consistently being judged on your performance, how well you work with others, and those around you monitor every single thing you do at work.
Therefore, it is always good to put on our best faces, do the job we get paid for to the best of our ability so that when we finally get the chance to leave the job the separation is mutual with no bad blood between the employer and employee. Even when things go awry, it is always advisable to keep your head up and bow out gracefully.
I love how well-written your post is!
Working in the field of Hospitality, I definitely can relate to the ‘leave your troubles at the door’ concept. When you enter the hotel, the guests don’t want to be burdened with your issues. I mean, most guests come to our hotel for business, but even so, the purpose of their trip is either to get work done, or enjoy time off, and no one wants to listen to you sit and whine about your life. One of the first things you learn in the hotel industry is to always keep a smile on your face and a pleasant tone,no matter what!