“Professional is not a label you give yourself — it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” — David Maister
Professionalism in the workplace is a slightly ambiguous term. After all, what’s considered professional in the warehouse or construction yard looks different from the office or retail counter. Regardless, professionalism consists of those qualities that set you apart from others in the workplace or industry—being professional means people take you seriously. It inspires trust in your colleagues, employees, and clients. As a company leader, your attitude and conduct set the tone. So, here’s a little refresher on professional conduct.
Be Respectful — of Everyone
No matter who you interact with, treat them with respect –even that colleague or client who presses every one of your buttons. Treating everyone with respect is the foundation for diversity, inclusion, and equity too, so if you want to present yourself professionally, there are no favorites. Treat everyone with civility and kindness.
Mind Your Manners
“Please” and “Thank you” are foundational –in every form of communication. Use appropriate terminology for your industry, but always include a greeting in emails and phone calls. “Good morning/evening, Tom.” Or “Thanks for calling your company, this is Sally, how may I help you?’ Even when texting, unless you know the recipient extremely well, include their name and your name and company. Pleasant and casual is appropriate – tuxedo-style formality isn’t required, but swearing, snarkiness, and slang are out.
Be discreet with your story sharing. There’s a time and a place to be super personal — and it’s pretty much never at work. Be wise with what you share, with whom you share, and how, and when, and even where. Once your words are out, they’re out there forever.
Be tactful when dealing with sticky interpersonal situations at work as well. Be careful to use your head — think before you speak — and not your emotions when addressing people.
Finally, leave your personal at home. We all walk through personal hard times. It’s part of life, but professionalism means leaving the baggage at home, where it doesn’t distract you from your job and responsibilities.
Don’t. Just don’t. It’s not good for your reputation in your company or the community. And it’s not good for you personally either. Being known as a gossip makes you look like a grade-schooler and doesn’t inspire people to trust you.
So whether it’s about your employee (which is another degree of unprofessionalism) or about a business associate, avoid spreading rumors, half-truths, and even whole truths about others. It’s easy, too easy, to get pulled into workplace politics. Take the high road – it leads to success!
Be Organized and Tidy
Organization and tidiness look different in different settings. A welding shop operates very differently than an accounting office. But either way, there’s no reason to be slovenly, and every reason to organize your workplace to fit your relevant needs and workflow. Being organized also helps your client base has absolute confidence in your ability to keep track of their orders, jobs, and requests.
Celebrate the Success of Others
Celebrate the success of others. Recognize their achievements. Work with competitors to achieve wins for everyone. Sure, you want your moment in the spotlight, but meanwhile, applauding your team members is good for them, good for you, and a great way to stand out.
Carry Yourself with Dignity
How you walk and talk matters. People are watching you, and when you carry yourself with confidence and self-respect, it makes a difference in how they perceive you. You might notice that successful people rarely slump over in their seats or huddle over their workstations. No, they carry themselves in a welcoming manner, inviting people into their world while establishing confidence in what they bring to the table.
Don’t Hide from Mistakes
Let’s face it – the blame game is a lose, lose. Take taking ownership of your mistakes. Acknowledge your responsibility for the situation, find a solution, and move forward. Accountability and doing the right thing is the height of professionalism!
Following these eight principles will make your career journey smoother. After all, professionalism is key to career success.
If you’re looking for a hand in finding professionals for your company, or connecting with a company that appreciates your professionalism, contact the Hamilton Connection team. Our company has developed a reputation for unparalleled customer service and the vision needed to develop recruiting plans for some of the top manufacturers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We are the Placement Professionals.