Self Professional Standards

"Do what you say you'd do."

Just six words, but these six words carried me through my corporate career in the first seven years. The importance of being reliable is one of the foundations of building trust. Without it, we would not be tasked with anything significant.

Yet, in almost a year, expecting something as simple as that has been a challenge. I hold others to my professional standards of being reliable, yet more often than not, I am disappointed.

Do I have to lower my standards from large Multinational Corporations (MNC) to be more fitting to a Small Medium Enterprise (SME)? Do I have to compromise on something that I held so sacred as a professional? Trying to establish myself as an expert in SMEs, what kind of expectations are reasonable?


In the last few months, I've thought deeply about this topic. I realised there's another layer to it that I could afford to ignore in large corporate settings and cannot afford to ignore in smaller businesses - "feelings". People "forget" to do things according to their "feelings". In large corporations, we can grill our team members when they forget because they are expected not to. They will apologise and, more often than not, improve afterward. But when I used the same methods to grill my team members here in an SME, they broke. They could not explain why they were like that, and they didn't see it as a big issue because everyone else around them was like that. This is not a generational thing - older managers cannot hold up to these simple standards that I thought could be expected.

So understanding our team members' feelings is even more important here because it determines how reliable they can be. It sounds absurd as I verbalise it and type it out here, but it's true. We cannot expect them to be mature enough to manage their own feelings for better productivity. We need to manage their feelings for them. Unlike in large corporations, where peer pressure to perform is so high, you'd suppress your feelings. In smaller enterprises, they are NOT peer pressured to perform. In fact, it is the opposite - they are peer pressured into poor performance. So, performing is an uphill battle.