Developing and maintaining professional behavior is essential for success in the workplace. Employers expect both candidates and hired employees to show professionalism when interacting with others. Those who show personal professionalism are usually given better opportunities, such as career advancement and increased compensation.
This guide will help you better understand professionalism so you can ensure that you behave most professionally during your job search and career.
What is professionalism?
Professionalism is a set of characteristics that demonstrate your ability to be a hardworking, reliable and respectable individual in a professional environment. The way you behave, relate to other people, and approach tasks all factor into your level of professionalism. This includes dressing appropriately, treating others with respect and maintaining a positive attitude.
Although professionalism may mean different things between work and industry, several important characteristics are standard in almost all workplace environments. Professionalism
10 characteristics of professionalism
Here are some characteristics and habits related to professionalism:
Let’s explore it in detail with suggestions on how you can demonstrate this behavior.
Reliability is critical to workplace success. Departments become more efficient and effective when individuals can rely on one another to do their part. When you and your teammates can trust each other to meet deadlines, produce quality work, and respond to requests promptly, it becomes easier to meet organizational goals and overcome challenges.
To be reliable, you also need to be flexible and stay focused on your job duties even in the face of unexpected obstacles. Consider the difference between an IT professional who becomes anxious and worried about a bug and one who admits a problem and calmly moves forward to fix it. Employers prefer to hire professionals who can maintain an attitude because they are more reliable and thus more professional.
You can demonstration reliability by:
- Always follow up on requests or questions
- Arrive on time or early for work, meetings and events
- Resulting in consistent quality work
- Respond to problems consistently
- Follow established processes and procedures
- Give your full attention to the task at hand
Another important aspect of professionalism is humility, or the ability to be humble. Those who show humility are confident without being overbearing and aware of the value that other people bring to the team. Humility helps people work together and work together as a team without one individual considering themselves more important than the other.
Entrepreneurs generally define someone as having humility when they respect their peers, acknowledge the hard work of others and avoid bragging about their personal accomplishments. These professionals often place more emphasis on how results affect the entire team than on just themselves.
You can show your humility by:
- Actively look for ways to develop others beside you
- Admit your mistakes
- Ask for help when necessary
- Receive constructive criticism
- Ask for and use advice from more experienced or knowledgeable professionals
- Doing what it takes to meet team goals, even if it means accepting assignments below your skill level
- Encourage others to share their constructive thoughts, ideas, and criticisms
Etiquette is an unwritten code of conduct, or the “right” or “right” way of acting in a workplace situation. Using proper etiquette often means displaying good behavior, being courteous, and treating others with courtesy and respect. While business etiquette can vary between companies and industries, it’s always better to be too formal than to risk offending someone.
You can demonstrate proper business etiquette by:
- Greet new people with a handshake
- Dress appropriately
- Use professional language and complete sentences in written communication
- Keep your cell phone during meetings and when you are engaged in face-to-face conversations
- Greet the individual by name
- Make eye contact when talking to other people
- Keep the conversation focused on work and avoid personal topics
One of the key aspects of professionalism is maintaining a professional appearance with good hygiene and hygiene. This applies to both your workspace and yourself. It’s important that you wear clean clothes that meet your organization’s dress code and keep your workplace clutter-free. Neatness shows people that you are organized, aware of how you present yourself and are ready to tackle your work assignments.
You can demonstrate neatness by:
- Make sure your clothes are clean and free of wrinkles and holes
- Choose clothes suitable for your job
- Maintain proper personal hygiene
- Keeps your work area neat and orderly
Employees who show concern for those around them pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and needs of others. They are good to colleagues and customers, even in challenging situations. While you may have to break bad news or express criticism of a project or its results, do so with more constructive and effective considerations.
Those who are caring show concern and empathy, which can include everything from asking co-workers about their weekend to helping overwhelmed coworkers complete challenging projects.
Here are some ways you can pay more attention to your work:
- Be courteous and kind to your colleagues, managers and customers
- Trying to help others in need
- Stay tolerant and respect others and their feelings
- Listen carefully to the thoughts and opinions of others before responding
Employers prefer to hire professionals who are devoted to their jobs, and are more likely to offer additional responsibilities and opportunities to those involved in the workplace. Demonstrating a work ethic shows your boss that you are loyal to the company and committed to delivering positive results through your work. Proving that you are reliable and willing to go the extra mile to meet your employer’s needs will help you advance your career.
You can show your dedication by:
- Take initiatives and volunteer for new projects
- Demonstrates a positive work ethic
- Provide high quality work
- On time
- Meet all deadlines
- Maintain a positive attitude about your job assignments
Although arrangement is similar to tidiness, you can keep your table tidy but still have trouble finding items at the right time. However, if your space is neat and tidy, you’ll know where everything is, find important items quickly, and work more efficiently.
Organization also goes beyond your physical workspace. The professionally organized can also set the time and duties they are better. They have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do at any given time and set personal deadlines to keep them on track. This way, they don’t miss important details and can make the most of their work day.
You can stay organized at work by:
- Maintain a clear agenda
- Create and update task lists
- Always return items to the correct location
- Prepare for assignments by gathering the right tools and information in advance
While employers often hold workers accountable, most effective professionals do this for themselves. Showing accountability shows others that you are responsible for your actions and their results.
Accountability requires that you accept your role in mistakes or failures, which can be challenging. However, it also proves your self-awareness and commitment to honesty and integrity.
You can demonstrate accountability by:
- Complete all tasks assigned to you on time
- Accept responsibility for the results of each project you participate in
- triving to achieve your goals and doing your part to help your team meet business goals
Integrity is an important part of professionalism because it convinces others that you uphold a high standard of morality. Those with high integrity are always honest and ethical. Although most businesses establish behavioral policies to help guide employee behavior, it is important that you keep yourself to a high standard of morality even when your company has explicit rules on how to behave.
Employees demonstrate integrity by fulfilling their promises and taking responsibility for their actions. They take a proactive approach to challenges in the workplace rather than waiting for problems to be discovered. Acting with integrity also means respecting everyone around you, including coworkers, supervisors, employees and customers.
You can demonstrate your integrity at work by:
- Guard your word at all times
- Avoiding gossip at work
- Be honest in all your business dealings
- Maintain confidentiality when needed
- Avoid discussing sensitive topics that are not relevant to your job
- Comply with all company policies and procedures, even when no one is watching
- Reward others for their achievements
While you don’t need to be an expert at everything, it is important to be competent in the area for which you are responsible. For example, an HVAC technician who is knowledgeable about the latest technology for energy-efficient cooling will appear more professional to customers and colleagues than professionals who do not follow the latest industry best practices.
In most cases, it will take ongoing efforts to maintain a high level of industry expertise. To continue developing your knowledge and skills, it is a good idea to read industry journals, attend conferences, enroll in relevant courses, practice with new technologies, and seek out mentors in your field. The more skills you have in your field, the more professional you will appear to others.
You can demonstrate your skills at work by:
- Recommend new products, tools, and processes to improve yields
- Ask your manager for input on performance to determine where you could improve
- Keep up with new industry developments
- Pursuing continuing education in your field
- Practice important skills often
- Volunteer for training opportunities, both as students and educators
Understand professionalism in different workplace situations
Committing to professionalism will help employers understand your ability to be reliable and capable. However, different scenarios require different behaviors. Here are some tips for using professionalism in a variety of workplace situations.
Professionalism in an interview
The interview is your first chance to make a positive impression on your boss, so you need to appear as professional as possible. Without knowing the details of the company culture, policies and procedures, you have to be formal and adopt your best behavior. You can show professionalism in an interview by:
- Dress more formally than when you were an employee
- Greet everyone with a handshake
- Make eye contact when you speak
- Speak clearly and respectfully without using unnecessary slang or jargon
- Share your achievements with confidence
- Avoid saying negative things about previous bosses or colleagues
Professionalism with customers
If you have direct contact with customers, clients, patients, or others your organization serves, it is important that you display the right professionalism at all times. However, you also have to adapt your behavior and language to your audience. For example, the professional attitude of working with children will be very different from the professional attitude of working with busy stakeholders.
Several aspects of professionalism are universal, such as:
- Arrive early for the meeting
- Promptly respond to inquiries and requests
- Treat others with courtesy and respect
- Shows tolerance for other beliefs and opinions
- Act with honesty and integrity
Professionalism with colleagues
Exploring professionalism can become more complex as you interact with your co-workers. While you should always treat them with respect and tolerance, you can also develop friendships and certain formalities may feel unnatural. However, you still have to be aware of acts that are unprofessional or commit violations. Avoid jokes or stories that might be considered offensive or insensitive.
When you are in a work environment, you must maintain a clear sense of professionalism that is different from how you would act in a casual environment. This includes:
- Avoid unprofessional language
- Show respect and affection for those around you
- Practice punctuality
Developing your professionalism is essential to launching and advancing a successful career. While your industry and workplace environment has a significant impact on which aspects of professionalism are most important, adopting the characteristics and habits listed above can help ensure you are ready wherever you work.