Professionalism in the Workplace

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by: Greg Gardner

Man buttoning his suit
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Professionalism in the workplace is the behavior and attitude of someone in a work or business environment. It is essential to present yourself as a competent employee. Whether you work in a customer-facing position or not, the way you present yourself impacts the way your clients and co-workers perceive you. In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can present yourself better in order to move your career forward.

What is professionalism in the workplace?

Professionalism is a collection of elements that make a statement to other people. Professionalism is how you communicate your attitude and competency to others. It’s what makes you stand out in a crowd. Professionalism is partially how you dress, but there are many other details that your express through your appearance and mannerisms. In any relationship, you project little things that color your communications. When people resonate with you it’s easier to have a conversation and reach out to people and get them to respond to you. Taking care of your workplace professionalism will help you to be seen as someone that people look at and say, “Okay I’d like to do more work with this person.”

Why is professionalism important?

Professional behavior is necessary for long-term success in a business no matter what size. Everyone has to be pulling their weight to make a business successful. Whether you work in a small office, as part of a creative pipeline, as a customer services representative, or in any other professional environment, you’re part of a team. Everyone must be doing their best for the team. That is what is gonna take to make that business succeed. Improving your professionalism helps to make team communication easier and more fruitful.

Professionalism in job interviews

Even if you are looking for a new position, professionalism can help you make a good impression. When hiring, employers are looking for competency and integration. They are looking for people who can do the job, do it right, and do it quickly. They’re also looking for people who can integrate into the existing team. Employees want to know if you a good fit and displaying workplace professionalism is a big part of that.

Two women in professional dress
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Attributes of a professional

The dictionary defines professionalism as The conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize a professional person.” When you think about a professional athlete you think about someone who has practiced a lot. A professional golfer has spent a lot of time out on the links hitting golf balls onto the green, but also into the sandbox and the woods. Getting that practice is part of growth. We’re gonna identify some little things you can practice and work on to make yourself more professional.

Competence

As a professional, you get the job done and get the job done well. Professionalism in the workplace is not only understanding what you’re doing but also being able to do the job well. It can take practice and study but competence is very important for professionalism. Know your job, do it well, and put the effort into making it your best work. If you’re doing something you don’t like then look for something you do so you can put your passion into it and make life exciting.

Conscientiousness

Another important part of professionalism is setting your own standards and holding yourself to them. Standards such as being reliable, setting your personal level of acceptable work production, or showing that you care about every aspect of your job. Conscientiousness is pushing yourself to hold a level of excellence even when you don’t feel like it. Having a standard you hold yourself to is important. It’s something people notice.

Dressing for Success

A professional is neat in appearance. We always encourage people to dress up and present themselves in a professional manner. You want to dress like your peers or perhaps even a bit more professional. Consider putting some of your own personal style into it as well.

When you are making a first impression you only have a few seconds. Humans are very conscious of how people look so a good first impression is incredibly important. Control your professional appearance by dressing up and looking sharp. In addition, dressing for success makes you feel good and can improve your mental health. I know when I dress sharp I feel sharp. Dressing with a certain style makes a difference and it catches people’s eye.

Hold yourself accountable

We all make mistakes. In the workplace, it’s important to own up to them and take accountability. Make decisions about if your work meets your personal standards. Work towards improvement whether it is your best work or not. You have to push yourself to be successful.

Professional looking man yelling into phone
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Emotional Control

Being aware of how you’re feeling before you say something you regret. Effectively it’s being able to pull back when you get frustrated, angry, or upset. A hard skill to master but something you can practice.

Separate the personal and the professional

An important adage for professionals is to leave your baggage at the door. Maybe your mood isn’t what it should be, but as a professional, you need to be able to separate personal issues from professional issues. Take a moment to calm yourself down and say, “I’ve got to get my mind on what I need to accomplish today.”

Sometimes that can be difficult, but it’s part of professionalism in the workplace. You must be aware and self-conscious. We all have our difficulty in life but we cannot be the person that brings personal drama into a professional setting. We all have our own drama and no one needs more. Separating your personal life from your professional life is a hard thing to do but it shows. You have to work on what you can do to change the narrative of a cranky mood.

Positivity

One way to get a good handle on your emotions is to practice having a positive attitude. Be positive by enjoying your life, doing something you enjoy, and helping others. When you feel positive it’s catchy. Smiling is infectious. If you smile at someone and they smile at someone else you pay it forward. We can share our joy and zest for life with others. It helps others to be positive too. Working with a team that is full of energy and feeling good is amazing. So many good things can be done when you work with people who maintain a positive can-do attitude while working.

Time Management

Good time management skills are essential to professionalism. A difficult skill to master but still something important. Everyone appreciates someone efficient and good at keeping appointments. Being on time allows others to accurately manage their schedules. It helps keep people positive.

  • Establish priorities
  • Set goals
  • Creating action plans to meet deadlines

Young businessman using at laptop at desk

Resilience

Develop coping skills to manage setbacks and challenges with a positive and constructive attitude. Making mistakes can be frustrating and it can push you into a negative mood. The ability to let setbacks roll off of you is an important skill in a professional environment. Life is full of unexpected events. Being resilient allows you to keep moving forward. 

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is being able to look at a problem and come up with a solution. Part of being a professional is being able to solve problems in your field. Whether it’s in business, software, technical issues, etc. There are so many areas where simple problem solving is important. Talking through a solution is part of life. Being able to look at things from different angles is a great skill and is something that employers relish. 

Developing soft skills

Soft skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and body language add up to a big part of what companies are looking for. Being a good communicator and being able to express yourself is a big part of being a professional. Use the right language when communicating and respect the opinions of others. Use active listening and critical thinking to break problems down into manageable chunks. Being a good team player is very important. We take that skill for granted. Being part of a team that is doing well is exciting and learning how to play your part is important.

Fake it till you make it

You have to start somewhere, but when you’re on that first step sometimes you’re not as confident as when you’re up the ladder a little bit. Until you feel comfortable with your professional persona it can be helpful to pretend as though you are comfortable. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and just act like you know what you are doing. When you present yourself as a professional long enough it becomes second nature. You become more or better able to present yourself as a professional. Keep working it will come more naturally and it will start to show. Soon people will think, “that guy, he’s a professional!”

Professionalism leads to workplace success, a strong professional reputation, and a high level of work ethic and excellence. Presenting yourself in the best light can be difficult. Curating and sculpting our professionalism is something we all have to work on from time to time. Always do your best, show up on time, treat others with respect, be a team player, take on challenges, and be ready to jump in and get work done while treating others with respect.

Ready to learn more?

The Career Services Department at Laurus College is committed to student success and offers a variety of services to assist students in identifying a new career. Get a head start on your future today by scheduling an appointment with one of our Career Services Coordinators!

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