PSOW Blog

The Importance of Protocol Officers: The Team Member You Never Knew You Needed

PSOW Staff - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

From finding the right talent to knowing what roles are crucial to fill, team building is one of the most crucial components of any successful organization. Finding the proper balance of personalities and positions can truly differentiate your company with a dream team of superior workers. But whether you own or work for a private or publicly held company, one of the most important members on your team may be someone you have never even considered—a protocol officer.

Protocol, by definition, involves the proper procedures or system of rules used to govern affairs of state or diplomatic occasions. Most often thought of in relation to presidential visits and diplomatic ceremonies, proper protocol helps establish your organization as one that is defined by a good sense of decorum, etiquette and cross-cultural respect.

But what is protocol as it relates to a successful organization and why is it important in building your team? Business protocol can be defined as the fine art and science of facilitating events for people of different cultures to find common purpose, engage strategic and sensitive issues, and create long-term relationships. As the world’s global marketplace continues to impact even the smallest of companies, business protocol has also become a strategic asset to set you apart from the competition.

Whether you are in the world of business, military, or diplomacy, a protocol officer can serve your organization by building valuable relationships with others. Having a protocol officer on your team not only helps build your brand but it ensures your company is represented at its best at all times and in most any situation.

But what does a protocol officer actually do, you may ask. A protocol officer is the person on your team that plans and orchestrates V.I.P. visits, ceremonies, meetings and special events. Each event they plan is driven with the expectation of diplomacy between the principal and invited guests. They are educated and experienced in precedence, titles and forms of address, flag etiquette, international protocol and much more—all of which influences strategic objectives that result in excellent customer relations.

For example, if you are a company doing first time business with an international client, a protocol officer can advise your team on cultural customs such as how to present your business card when meeting in person. In Japan, you offer your card with two hands, but in the United Arab Emirates, make sure you offer up a card with the right hand only. It sounds simple enough, but cross-cultural disrespect can be a serious offence in other countries, and a trained protocol officer can help you navigate acceptable rules of behavior.

Another area in which a protocol officer can add value is knowing proper dining etiquette. For example, if you are at a business luncheon in Brazil, your protocol officer can advise you to plan on spending two or more hours dining, as lengthy meal times are the norm in that country. And in Hong Kong, make sure to wait for the host to start eating before you do. Otherwise you risk offending your host and possibly harming your business relationship.

By paying attention to these sorts of issues, a protocol officer can help your team create an environment that is free of cross cultural distractions. With respect given at every turn, your teams can then focus on the business at hand and ensure the comfort level of all parties has been met.

But, a protocol officer also proves valuable to your company for many other reasons. A trained protocol officer can guide your team on leadership skills, knowing how to effectively work with your co-workers in an atmosphere of mutual respect. From teaching your team effective leadership practices to instructing them on how to read emotional intelligence—the ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions of others—business protocol can be a crucial component in building your team and team spirit.

Protocol officers can also be an organization’s designated ceremony planner, the person who can make your special event memorable by paying attention to such details as seating strategies, how to properly address VIPS and helping to ensure that everyone on the agenda is treated with respect.

The bottom line is that a protocol officer can help your organization facilitate communication, cross-cultural respect and cooperation between individuals, co-workers, clients and cultures.

As we all work to build the best team in the modern workforce, a protocol officer can be one of the most important members you never knew you needed. By helping your company enhance its image and embrace respect both internally and externally, you can stand out from the competition and ensure your organization is mindful, respectful and polished at every turn.


Pamela Eyring

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