Professionalism, best defined as workplace-appropriate courtesy, is an essential skill for anyone to have. Employers and coworkers alike look for it in prospective new hires. However, it seems like everyone has their own perception of what professional conduct looks like. What does this elusive concept truly mean?
Professionalism is difficult to define to everyone’s satisfaction. However, several ideas do tend to remain the same across differing explanations. Here are a few near-universally agreed-upon ways you can show professionalism in your workplace.
Fulfilling Your Job’s Basic Requirements
This may seem like a no-brainer. However, maintaining a professional image depends on the little things as much as the big ones. Something as simple as consistently arriving to work on time goes a long way toward demonstrating your work ethic. Meeting your deadlines shows a similar attitude. In other words, your boss and coworkers will appreciate seeing you take the entirety of your job seriously. There’s no need to worship your job, of course–that behavior can make you look like a workaholic with no life–but showing that you understand and respect your job’s fundamental requirements will get you far.
Pro Tip: First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to professional attire. Learn your workplace’s dress code and stick to it.
Conduct Toward Others
The way you act toward your coworkers and boss shows your professionalism or lack thereof. For instance, we all know it’s rude to ignore someone or brush them off. However, in a work environment, it’s equally rude to keep dragging someone into a conversation when they’re clearly busy or want to leave. Much like in everyday life, learn to recognize and respect people’s time and boundaries.
There will be times when you’ll need to stand up for yourself because, unfortunately, even workplaces aren’t immune to petty bullying. A professional response to this behavior walks a fine line. On the one hand, don’t let yourself become a doormat for others to take advantage of. You don’t deserve that treatment. On the other hand, an overly aggressive or combative response could be an overreaction or could burn bridges later in your career. Learn to find the middle ground of remaining professional while making it clear that you won’t tolerate poor treatment.
Managing Your Workload
Finally, time management is a huge part of professionalism. Meeting your deadlines is only part of it. Do you find ways to optimize your productivity or do you rush to finish projects at the last minute? Obviously, there isn’t a single “correct” way to work, but your boss will notice if you’re constantly in a rush or struggling to complete something. Find the balance that works both for your job and for your work style.
Professionalism in Your Everyday Life
Professional behavior, speech, and appearances go a long way not only toward keeping you employed, but also toward improving your relationships with others in the workplace. Your coworkers and supervisors alike will appreciate your communication and smooth handling of daily work. Show everyone that you know how a proper workplace should be run.
Connect with us to learn more about maintaining truly professional conduct in the modern workforce.