Professionalism in the workplace is based on many factors, including how you dress, carry yourself, your attitude and how you interact with others. The definition of professionalism indicates that each person perform their tasks with genuine earnest and honesty.  It refers to a person doing his / her job with sincerity, and maintaining professional etiquette and ethics in the workplace.

How to Show Professionalism in the Workplace:

How to Show Professionalism in the Workplace

  1. Adhere to your commitments - Live up to your commitments every time.
  2. Realize the sensitivity of the work that you represent - Make sure not to jeopardize the confidentiality of your organization or misuse it any way. This will help make you trustworthy.
  3. Treat everyone with respect. That means everyone - from upper management, peers, and administrative staff to vendors, clients and competitors, to the person on the phone and the stranger in the elevator.  Respect and communication in a business environment gives all employees the feeling of safety and collaboration.
  4. Value the time and effort spent by others - Do not take other members of the organization for granted.
  5. Always maintain ethical conduct - Be honest and refrain from deceitful practices.
  6. Smile and put your best face forward - Friendliness and understanding go a long way to creating an atmosphere of teamwork.  Maintain a positive can-do attitude even during stressful situations.
  7. Admit your mistakes - We all make mistakes. Admitting your mistake shows that you are not only human, but also a professional. Don’t be surprised at how understanding people will be when you admit that you have made an error.
  8. Display competence - Competence is the culmination of what you say that you can do and what you actually can do. Competent employees know their job and which skills they are capable of.  It is not arrogance. It is an honest display of competencies.
  9. Take a leadership role whenever possible - Show that you are willing to accept responsibility and produce results.
  10. Keep personal issues at home - Refrain from using the company’s time for personal issues.  While personal issues will be considered by management when required, employees need to refrain from discussing it during office hours.  This keeps the office environment free from empathy-related biases about productivity.
  11. Demonstrate the core values of professionalism - appropriate attire, etiquette, punctuality, organization and dedication to your job, just to name a few.
  12. Project a positive business appearance - It has long been recognized that those who dress professionally will behave in the same manner.
  13. Be polite in speech and body language - “Please” and “Thank-you” go a long way in establishing a good working relationship.
  14. Turn off or silence mobile devices - This will minimize distractions for you and others. It shows that you value the time spent by others (see rule #4).

Characteristics that Undermine Professionalism:

  • Gossip: Do not gossip. It is not only detrimental to the work ethic between employees; it can also place one’s job in danger. A person can quickly lose their aura of professionalism by being a target of or a participant in office gossip.
  • Negative attitude: Your attitude colors everything you do.
  • Poor attendance and frequent tardiness:
  • Unprofessional body language:  Yawning without covering your mouth and chewing gum in the presence of others are just a couple of examples.
  • Excessive fragrance or not-so-fresh body odors: Be clean and fresh, but keep fragrance to a minimum.
  • Unkempt fingernails:  Women with inch-long nails or unusual polish colors are not taken seriously. Clear polish or a French manicure is the most professional looking. Ragged or unclean nails make a poor impression.  Remember that people notice hands just after their faces

While the basic principles of individual professionalism are universal, it is also defined by a set of responsibilities set forth by an organization for its members to follow. Incorporating professionalism in the workplace is a critical element for any company desiring to achieve success. Professionalism is a concerted effort by all within the workplace to provide the utmost of their ability each and every day and a concentration on quality of service and work. It is imperative that management set certain criteria that all within the organization easily understand and should follow.

Why Professionalism is Imperative for the Workplace:

Why Professionalism is Imperative for the Workplace

  • Ensures good performance by all - It is important that professionalism is demonstrated at the top and flows down.  If professionalism is modeled and held in high regard, everyone will do their personal best.
  • Keeps employees motivated - Keeping employees motivated helps to maintain a good reputation. Happy employees are positive brand ambassadors for the company.
  • Ensures a good team spirit - It helps to create synergy and minimizes divisiveness.  It also adds value to the overall goals of the company.
  • It is critical to ensure justice and fairness for everyone’s efforts - The quality of a person’s work is taken into consideration, not just the quantity.  It should appreciate the efforts and contributions made by all without personal biases.
  • Helps to maintain the right amount of communication in the workplace - It ensures that those who need to be heard are given the opportunity to be heard, when appropriate. Whether, formal or informal, there should be clear and precise methods of communication between employees as well as with management.

Professionalism is the axis around which any organization should revolve. A company that chooses not to develop or enforce policies may end up with a workplace that suffers from low productivity, low employee morale and poor customer service.

Whether you are a corporate executive responsible for instilling professionalism within your organization or an employee looking for that next promotion, conducting yourself well in the office and following a specific set of work principles will make you a good role model.

Sources:  professionalismintheworkplace.net; Buzzle: “Conducting Professionalism at Workplace”; eHOW: “How to Show Professionalism at Work” and “Responsibilities of Professionalism”.