Maintaining professionalism is all about adopting the right kind of attitude. If you want to achieve success in the corporate world, you should look like a true professional. Making the transition from the classroom to the workplace can be challenging and intimidating. In addition to the information and skills you learned in the classroom, there is more to know when it comes to how to become a professional. In your first professional job, it can be difficult to know what your employer expects from you on a day-to-day basis. There’s a certain code of behavior that’s expected by most employers, and your adherence is key to being a successful employee for your company. The more you practice it, the better you get at it, and the more successful you will be. The following are some tips to help you become more professional at the workplace:
Keep an Impeccable Appearance
Pay special attention to your image. Always be presentable valuing a good impression. Always check the dress code or policy of your company and stick to it. Do not show up at work with a sloppily clothes and/or, with uncombed hair. Professionals are polished, well groomed, with clean, pressed, not too tight or not too loose clothing. Professionals dress appropriately for the situation, adhere to the dress code, and they follow good hygiene practices. This will help you look more confident and project a positive impression.
Care about Yourself, Care about Your Job
Being healthy does not mean taking care of your body only, but also your mind and spirit. The more strong and healthy the better you will be at your job. Eat and sleep well. Keep a good posture while sitting or standing. Exercise regularly for a more energetic life and a higher self-esteem.
Always be on Time
One of the most important ways to maintain professionalism in the workplace is to arrive on time and to respect other colleagues or customers time. A good practice is to arrive 10 minutes early, whether it’s about going to the office, attending a business event or meeting with a customer.
Know the Policies of your Company
It’s important to review your company’s policies on all of these issues, and don’t be afraid to ask your manager or human resources department if anything is not clear for you. Sticking to company rules is a must and can be difficult at first, but when you are knowledgeable about your company’s expectations, your professionalism in the workplace will show up.
Do not indulge yourself in office gossip. Gossiping in the workplace shows you are not fully committed to your job. Gossiping about someone will show that you gossip about others too. Also avoid discussing personal matters at work this will waste your actual work time and interrupt your schedule. Making personal phone calls while at work is sometimes necessary, but keep them to a minimum. If at all possible, conduct your personal affairs during your personal time, for instance, during lunch hour. It’s legitimate to make friends, interact socially in the workplace, and act silly with your friends at work, but only after you are off the clock or within breaks. Remember, you need to be productive.
Stand to Your Commitments
Whenever you are committed to task or a goal, whether to your manager, subordinates, colleagues, or customers, keep it. In case you won’t be able to meet a deadline, you should manage expectations up front by letting them know as soon as possible, giving them the right justification with the new expected time to have the job done. Professionals don’t hold themselves accountable for their work commitments only, but also for their thoughts, words, and actions.
Own up to Mistakes
If you made a mistake, own up to it. Any of us can make mistakes. Do not make excuses or blame it on coworkers. Instead, focus on finding solutions and meeting expectations as best as you can, and on making the situation right. Admitting your mistakes doesn’t put you down. In fact, such professional attitude enhances your image even more. Your boss will appreciate the heads up and the fact you are trying to fix the situation. However, always be ready to learn from your mistakes so that you can deliver better the next time.
Relate to Others
Know the distinctive capabilities of other employees. Refer to their ideas, their opinions and patents by giving them the right credit. Train yourself to delegate out-of-your-scope work to others and get them to take responsibility for their outputs.
Be Emotionally Intelligent
One of the greatest difficulties in a workplace is developing work relationships with colleagues and customers who may have different backgrounds, opinions, viewpoints, politics, religions or work styles than you. Developing such relationships would involve arising some emotion at some point. To become a professional you must handle your emotions with intelligence. You might have a disagreement with a coworker or a customer, or there can be incidents on the job, a weird look, a teasing remark or a negative feedback, that may trigger your anger or dissatisfaction. You do not want to act like an immature child, it is natural to feel angry, however, that does not mean that you can act out on that anger. Figure out how to, promptly, calmly, and listening actively, discuss this with the appropriate party, avoiding fights, shouts and endless debates simply let it go and focus on your work.
Represent the Organization
Whenever you are, wherever you are, your company considers you an ambassador of it. Be ready to explain to others the company’s mission, its unique accomplishments, and your role in that company. Know your company products and/or services. Also read about its social and environmental responsibilities. Always conduct yourself with pride, thought, dignity and commitment as an employee in that company. You should mind your words, opinions and comments when in public, especially in social media. You should clearly differentiate between your relationship to that company and your own personal opinions and comments.
A good sign of professionalism is not to get aggressive when you are talking about competitors. It simply signals bad attitude. Even when a competitor is a part of a discussion, you should refrain of talking bad about them and avoid any clashes. Just focus on showing how your products and/or services are better than others. This shows you are a true professional and have enough confidence in your company and the products it offers.
Be Courteous to Everyone
Be kind, polite and considerate to everyone you come into contact with, no matter what their role is, and no matter how you’re feeling, looking at everyone in the workplace in the same manner. Respect should be shown to all colleagues including elderly, junior or inexperienced colleagues, as well as those with special needs. Show up to all with a smile and make sure that you praise and appreciate their good work.
A professional is an expert who is master in a specific field. It is true that not all areas demand extensive knowledge to practice successfully; and not all professionals have top degrees in their field. What matters, though, is that these professionals have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in their fields; and that they keep this knowledge up-to-date, so that they can continue to deliver the best work possible. However, it is highly recommended when appropriate, that the professional knowledge is supported by degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this knowledge.
Have Complete Signatures on E-mails
Having signatures on e-mails are very professional. They should contain your full name, as known internally in the company, your job title, your work phone and Fax, your organization/department, your office working hours, break times, and weekend days (when working in a multinational environment).
Manage your Out-of-office Time
Most companies offer personal off time as paid vacation days, sick leaves, and other types of leaves. The leave policy and leave request procedures differs from company to another, this is why it is important that that you read carefully the procedure within your first days on the job. In some companies it is mandated that you give a certain amount of notice before taking a vacation, even if optional, it is still appreciated to notify your supervisor prior your leave. Not only leaves, but even if you are unable to make a shift or will be late. In case of emergency personal or sick leavers, when you are unable to notify your supervisor prior, it is important to have your manager notified as soon as you can. Doing so helps your supervisor ensure there is an adequate coverage during your absence. Before leaving your office, you should ensure that you delegate all important tasks or responsibilities to your coverage peer. An Out-of-office message should be prepared on voice mail and e-mail, it should contain:
- Your name, your organization/department.
- Your emergency contact.
- Delegated peer(s) contacts.
- The date when you will return back to office.
From these traits above, professionals are the kind of colleagues, managers, subordinates that others respect and value. They are an added value to their companies. They are the first to be nominated for promotions, and awarded valuable projects and key client accounts. They are by nature successful in their careers. If you think that you are still somehow far from that status, start now and train yourself to earn a professional reputation in the workplace.