Being a true professional is a valuable and rewarding attribute. Use the keys in this lesson to learn how to increase your professionalism, maintain your dignity, and demonstrate your commitment.
What is Professionalism in the Workplace?
Professionalism has to do with the way a person conducts himself or herself in the workplace. An individual who shows consideration and respect for others demonstrates a commitment to professionalism. Likewise, a person who keeps his or her word, demonstrates loyalty, and exceeds expectations is demonstrating professionalism.
There are four key elements that demonstrate a professional attitude. These are:
- Treat other with respect
- Keep your word
- Be loyal
- Exceed expectations
Let's take a closer look at each one.
Treat Others with Respect
Your company has two vice-presidents that interact with employees on a regular basis. One VP, Cathy, is known for being approachable and friendly to employees. She speaks to everyone she comes in contact with and makes it a point to know the staff members' names. Cathy is never angry or upset, even when she has to handle problems. She remains calm and speaks respectfully to everyone she communicates with. As a result, employees respect her and are anxious to help her in any way they possibly can.
Ken, the other VP, has a reputation for being rude and demanding to employees. He rarely speaks to people he passes in the hallway, won't look up from his phone when he talks to someone, and frequently is heard yelling when he is upset. He makes inappropriate comments to his team members, calling them names and telling them they are terrible at their jobs. He's even been heard yelling at customers and vendors on the phone. As a result, his employees avoid communicating with him and do the bare minimum to keep their jobs.
Treating co-workers, employees, customers, vendors, and managers with respect is a vital aspect of demonstrating professionalism. Some ways to show respect are using the appropriate tone and words while communicating, focusing on the other person while speaking, and maintaining a calm demeanor even if the other person becomes angry.
Keep Your Word
Professionalism is based on trust. Whether a company makes a commitment, a team promises something, or an individual says they will do something, keeping that commitment is fundamental to exhibiting professionalism. Is there a valid reason why you couldn't keep your word? Likely, but being professional means eliminating excuses and following through on what you said you would do. Nothing leaves a worse taste in a person's mouth than to feel that they were lied to or to feel that a person didn't follow through on their word.
As an example, you have been very busy and decided this year you would hire a lawn service to take care of cutting your lawn and manicuring your yard. After speaking with the owner, you feel very confident they can provide the services you need at a fair price. However, after the first visit, you notice your lawn is very uneven and none of the bushes were trimmed. On top of that, the bill they left was almost double what you were told. You contact the owner only to be brushed off. As a result, the company loses your business, as well as several other potential clients who are close friends of yours.
There will always be someone willing to undermine colleagues and step on others to get ahead. These people are not professional. They lose trust and respect and often stifle their own career progression. On the other hand, if you help, recognize, and support others, you will be regarded as a loyal, professional person.
For example, say you've recently been hired to work at an advertising agency. The firm thrives on creative ideas, and it can feel very competitive at times. You see signs that a coworker may not be loyal to his manager. As you watch his interactions with your colleagues, you notice how much time he spends gossiping and undermining your boss. It appears that he's trying to get her fired. He blames her for his mistakes and complains about her to the president of the company. What he doesn't realize is everyone is aware of his behavior, and the president of the company doesn't believe his stories. This man thinks he's furthering his career. His lack of loyalty is actually destroying trust and ruining any opportunities for personal advancement.
A true professional understands what they are responsible for and then exceeds expectations. He or she understands that doing the bare minimum will limit opportunities for self-improvement and advancement in the company. Regardless of whether you are the janitor or the CEO, make the commitment to excel in your work. This is a sign of a person who is professional and serious about work.
Professionalism is used to describe the acceptable behavior that employees exhibit in the workplace. If you are wanting to improve your professionalism, four areas you can focus on include respecting others, keeping your word, being loyal, and exceeding expectations. By focusing on these key areas, you can build solid relationships, demonstrate your commitment to your work, and help advance your career.
The Four Key Areas of Professionalism
- Treat Others With Respect: Treat co-workers, employees, customers, vendors, and managers with respect by using appropriate language and tones, and remaining calm.
- Keep Your Word: If you say you are going to do something, make sure you do it. No excuses.
- Be Loyal: Don't try to get others in trouble to make yourself look good.
- Exceed Expectations: Understand what you are responsible for and expected to do, and go beyond it.
As you strengthen your knowledge of workplace professionalism, you might discover an increased capacity to:
- Remember the formal definition of 'professionalism'
- Identify and describe the four elements of a professional attitude