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Reimagined Professionalism: A Leader’s Guide to Facilitation

Reimagined Professionalism: A Leader’s Guide to Facilitation

Jan 22, 2022

By: Darrie Matthew Burrage

Our Integrated Work November newsletter showcased an article titled Reimagining Professionalism where we offered a concept we called a “Personal Work Standard” (PWS) that describes an individualized definition and practice of excellence in the context of work.

Our November article suggests that approaching our practice of professionalism as a PWS can liberate us from our unwitting acquiescence to a conventional philosophy of professionalism that is sourced in a problematic history; and, instead, offers us “the opportunity to recognize and advocate for our [own] needs and dreams” – allowing our work experience and work settings to become ever-more Human-First. As an organizational leader interested in transforming and engaging your team, a facilitated discussion on Personal Work Standards can be an important step to take in leading Human-First spaces. And given the newness of the idea, there are some critical elements to consider and incorporate into your facilitation.

Bringing the PWS concept into action requires deliberate time, and perhaps, a little guidance – given that we aren’t very often asked about our own personal definitions of work excellence. Facilitators (i.e., discussion leaders) can help individuals and groups explore the potential of a PWS.

Here is a leader’s guide that offers a way to facilitate this concept with a team or a group. As a meeting icebreaker or during a session hosted at a team retreat, facilitators can share their own personal work standard with their coworkers and then invite them to do the same with the prompt being: When it comes to my work and working with others, it’s important for me to…

  • To complete the prompt by “filling in the blank,” responses may reflect our task execution and contributions, how we connect with colleagues, how we serve our clients and communities, as well as how we honor ourselves and our hopes.
  • The group’s responses may take a few moments to produce, as I’m sure it will take for your own PWS to coalesce due to the uniqueness of the prompt.
  • Once you hear the group’s responses, no matter how terse or tattered, commend their statements with praise and gratitude. Generating your PWS can be vulnerable; as it requires us to boldly profess our desires, objectives, boundaries, and pleas for trustworthiness to our colleagues and leaders.
  • As a PWS is spoken, encourage all participants to take notes of what was shared, along with who shared the statement. Have your staff’s PWS statements readily available for you to reference and weave into your collaboration and feedback practices with them to customize your approach in what it means to Grow Together.

When you allow someone into the sanctity of your PWS, it deserves applause as a courageous act. And, we applaud your courage as leaders facilitating these moments to go first in sharing your PWS; testing and demonstrating the safety of the space for individuals to be (and be embraced for) their authentic selves. Facilitating personal work standards is a maneuver to resist historically unidimensional expectations of what it means to exist in the realm of work. Our facilitation of PWS is a liberation tactic that seeks to reunite individuals to a part of themselves that feels seen, accepted, celebrated, and chosen in their work contexts; and these individuals uniting with one another as a community based in audacious authenticity.