While the lines have blurred between work and home in recent years, being professional is still an important part of getting on in your career.
Adopting a professional attitude at work helps you to earn respect from colleagues, and make strong connections within your industry.
What is meant by professionalism?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines professionalism as ‘the combination of all the qualities that are connected with trained and skilled people.’
Professionalism is measured not only by your competency in your role but also by how you conduct yourself within the workplace. To build a professional reputation, you must hold yourself to a high standard, and meet the expectations of those around you.
That could look like sticking to your workplace’s dress code, avoiding office politics, and projecting confidence in your abilities.
What are the career advantages of being more professional?
Conveying a professional image and making a good impression with your colleagues can help you to make strong connections within your sector, fuelling you on to great career success.
Not only can it help you climb the corporate ladder within your current workplace, but professionalism is also a crucial component of a job interview when you’re applying for a new role. In a 2012 study, 96% of HR respondents stated that a person’s professionalism affects the likelihood of that person being hired, showing the importance of maintaining a professional tone.
What are the workplace advantages of being more professional?
Within the workplace, being more professional can help you earn the trust of your colleagues. By showing that you’re a professional person who can stay calm in tense situations, and deal with any conflict within your workplace, your team will know what to expect when they work alongside you.
A professional person brings a positive attitude to a workplace, and looks for solutions, rather than focusing on problems. It’s a skill to remain professional at work, especially when there are frustrations to be handled.
How can you be and act more professional at work?
There are a few things you can do to start being more professional at work straightaway. Here are our top 10 tips:
#1. Stick to your company’s rules and regulations
When you first start your job, you should be given a copy of the company policy, as well as an employee handbook. These will tell you what’s expected of you while you’re at work or representing the company when you’re at trade shows, for example. You’ll find details of dress codes, gift giving and receiving, and appropriate behaviour. Abiding by these can help you secure a professional image within your company.
#2. Show that you’re a hard-working employee
It’s down to you to show that you work hard, and get the job done to the best of your ability. Employers want to know that you’re dedicated and you take great pride in your work, so showing this level of professionalism is key. Show up to meetings prepared, and deliver work on time to show your colleagues that you’re a true professional.
#3. Stay out of office politics
When you want to fit in, it can be tempting to get involved in office gossip or take sides in an argument. Staying out of office politics can serve you better in the long run, as it shows that you have a level of professionalism that employers respect. Try to avoid it as much as you can, and stay neutral instead.
#4. Keep a calm composure
Although you can have your patience tested within any job, it’s important to keep a calm composure and show that you can remain professional. Losing your temper can result in arguments with colleagues, as well as repercussions such as formal warnings, and even dismissal. Staying calm is vital to maintaining a professional image.
#5. Don’t engage in inappropriate behaviour
No matter what job you’re working in, you’ll need to show the utmost respect for your colleagues or clients. Being aware of the topics you’re discussing, and the language you’re using is crucial, otherwise, you might find yourself in hot water.
#6. Be empathetic
It’s really important that you can relate to the people around you, and show a level of empathy within the workplace. It helps you to connect to your colleagues and let them know their concerns are heard. If you haven’t worked on your emotional intelligence before, it’s worth seeing how you can improve to build a more professional image
#7. Hold your hands up if you make mistakes
It’s okay to eat humble pie now and again. Everyone makes mistakes and being able to admit this can be a sign of strength among your team. It also shows that you take accountability and hold yourself responsible for any errors in your work. Having a professional attitude and seeing how you can improve will stand you in good stead.
#8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Part of being a professional is asking for help and seeking feedback on the work that you produce. Trying to do it all yourself can be difficult and shows others that you’re not willing to work with them for the greater good of the business.
#9. Focus on your professional development
Your professional development will be important for carrying you through your career, so continuing to build your skills and knowledge in your industry can be invaluable. Take the initiative to get booked on to training courses, read industry magazines, or attend events that can help you network and expand your knowledge.
#10. Carry professionalism into every communication
Remember that it’s not just in-person communication that needs to be professional – you should carry it through to your emails and messaging channels too. For instance, being over-friendly with someone you’ve only just met is considered unprofessional, as is discussing personal topics with clients.
What shouldn’t you do if you want to be more professional?
Acting inappropriately at work is a sure-fire way of being seen as unprofessional. Working within a team, you’ll need to collaborate in a professional manner, contributing to group discussions, as well as allowing everyone to have a voice.
For example, let’s imagine Winnie is participating in a group project that requires everyone to give feedback on design ideas for the company website.
If Winnie talks over other people in her group and is rude to the designer, that unprofessional behaviour will be noted by her colleagues, and she could be called into a meeting with HR. Offering constructive feedback, and taking the time to listen to other people’s opinions would help her to be seen as a more professional colleague.
How can being more professional make you a better leader?
In any industry, a leader needs to hold themselves to a certain level of professionalism in order to show they’re respected and trusted within the organisation.
It shows they treat everyone equally and don’t have favourites among the team, instead giving each person the time and space they need to do their job effectively. Promoting your team’s professional development can also help them to progress, bringing more skills and experience to your workforce.
Need to develop your Leadership and Management skills?
Here are just some of courses we offer at TSW:
- ILM Level 2 in Leadership and Team Skills
- ILM Level 3 in Leadership and Management
- ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management
- Core Skills for Management Training Course
- Core Skills for Team Leaders Course
- Management Training Courses
- ILM courses and qualifications
- Leadership and Management Apprenticeships
- and more