Professionalism at work is essential, particularly if you want to be taken seriously, have your boss think you are an asset to the company and climb the corporate ladder.
However, what does the term 'professionalism' mean exactly? Is it enough to simply turn up for work on time, do the hours we are paid to do, and generally do a good enough job?
Or, is there a lot more expected of us if we are to be viewed as behaving professionally at work?
Top tips on how to be more professional at work
1. Follow company policies and rules
Beyond legal compliance rules, a range of documents covers professional conduct at work (e.g. a company handbook, an ethics code, induction pack, and disciplinary and grievance procedures). These clarify a company's expectations of its employees and even third parties (e.g. suppliers or customers), detailing what behaviour is and isn't acceptable and what will happen if rules are broken.
2. Appearance, words and deeds
Pay attention to how you look, what you say and what you do. Comply with your firm's dress code, code of conduct and code of ethics.
3. Become an asset to the team
Pay attention in your department meetings and stay on top of company information by reading company memos. Colleagues will start recognising you as an asset and respect your professional approach. Show you are engaged by responding appropriately - not by hitting 'reply all' on every message!
4. Treat others with courtesy & respect
Be aware that your language and behaviour reflect on your company as a whole, for good or bad. When interacting with colleagues and other stakeholders, listen to what they say, be supportive of colleagues and avoid using profanities, offensive, bullying or discriminatory language.
5. Avoid office politics & gossip
Unfortunately, office politics are all too common, especially when you start to climb the corporate ladder. By removing yourself from office gossip among your co-workers, you'll begin to establish the professional reputation you are looking for.
6. Understand & follow your company's culture
Your company will have fundamental principles and values enshrined in its corporate culture and underpin everything it does - for example, acting honestly, treating people fairly, and being open and transparent. Make sure you demonstrate these values in all your business dealings and act in your company's best interests.
7. Be a responsible employee
If you have concerns or evidence that colleagues are in breach of the law or your organisation's code of conduct, tell your manager or report it via the whistleblowing channels.
8. Demonstrate a professional attitude
There are several ways that employees can show that they are committed members of their team, including:
- Take your work seriously - be prompt and attentive, particularly in meetings!
- Stay fit for work - look after your health and wellbeing
- Be reliable - do what you say you will do when you say you will do it
- Embrace feedback - Ask for it if it is not given and make efforts to respond to it
- Show commitment to personal development - Actively learn new things
- Communicate professionally - Verbally, digitally and especially on social media.
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