Some basic professional behavior

However intelligent you are, however efficient you are, I believe that you must have some basic professionalism in your day to day work. Without this, a lot of people could be put off and your unprofessional behavior may overshadow your intellectual genius.

When I look around me, I find these are some of the things I expect while working with people:

- Punctuality: Basic punctuality is one of the mot important attributes of professional behavior according to me. If you have agreed to be somewhere at a particular time, you bloody well be there at that time. Most of the time at least. All of us get delayed once in a while. There're a lot of things that could cause this - traffic, oversleeping, getting delayed at an earlier meeting etc. However, there is a big difference between once-in-a-way delays and regular, consistent delays.

On those rare occasions when you do get justifiably delayed, I consider it important to let the person or people you are going to meet know with a brief apology. Not doing this, in my humble opinion, is the pinnacle of unprofessionalism.

- Responding to email: Email is something that is meant to be responded to within a reasonable amount of time. You don't have to respond immediately but you should really respond within probably 24 hours unless it is a holiday. Not responding to email could mean so many things. You don't consider the topic important enough or worse you don't consider the person important enough.

Not responding to email can leave many things hanging in the air. To make sure I respond as soon as possible to email, I follow a simple rule. I keep the email in my Inbox until it has been 'dealt with', which means I either respond to it or make an Action Item and put it on my To-do list or both. It then goes into a folder meant for emails related to the topic. That way, anything in my Inbox means I have things to take care of. If the number of emails in my Inbox goes beyond what fits in one screen without scrolling, I become very uncomfortable and restless!

- Phone calls: We all get calls when we cannot take them. What do you do in that case? Ignore them? Call back? It is ok not to take calls when you are in a meeting. It is actually very unprofessional to take calls during meetings unless it is really urgent! Texting, equally so. What about the call itself? If the call is from a person I know, I would definitely call back once I am done with the meeting. If it is an unknown number as well, most of the time I call back unless it is from a number that looks like a tele-caller's!

I find that basic professional behavior goes a long way in making work much smoother and a pleasure. Some unprofessional people can completely ruin your day and make delays in getting things done very frustrating. It is never too late to change. All it takes is intent.