Professionalism is the sum total of appropriate behaviour in the work environment, and professional conduct is a key indicator of the success of an organisation. Employers and service users alike are constantly talking about professionalism and its lack thereof, but what does it really mean to “be professional” or to “act professionally”?
Here are a few helpful pointers to guide you into becoming a refined professional in your field as we enter in the New Year 2015.
1. Be Punctual.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many employees still think it is okay to be late. For employers however, employees who are perpetually late are financial liabilities, and may even be let go. Whether it is an urgent business meeting, or just regular resumption hours, the golden rule should be, “better on time than un-employed.”
2. Be Reachable.
The advent of innovative technologies – from mobile phones to quick, instant email – means that there’s no reason to be unreachable. No matter how bothersome your boss, client or customer may be, ignoring their calls or messages reflects negatively on you. Instead, respond promptly to their inquiries and be prepared to work extra hard to accommodate their requests.
3. Honour Commitments.
Whether it is a simple, “I’ll call you back,” or a more serious, “I’ll send it before the end of the day,” it is important to honour commitments made. Failure to do so paints both you and your organisation as irresponsible and unreliable. If you’re unable to respond within the given period, send a message apologising for the delay, and do your best to minimise fallout.
4. First Impressions Matter.
When meeting someone in an official setting, it is important to make the best impression in the shortest amount of time. A firm handshake, a warm smile and appropriate clothing – these little things can go a long way to creating a lasting first impression.
5. Be Present.
We live in a very interactive world, both virtually and in reality, and distractions abound. It is common to find employees nodding off, texting or playing games while in the middle of meetings – this is unprofessional. It is important to focus, be alert and be keenly attentive at all times. It may help to switch off all phones, or not to bring them into meetings at all.
6. Be Polite.
From customer services to speaking with co-workers, being polite at all times is vital to being professional. Some people are more difficult to relate with than others, but that is never an excuse to raise your voice or berate anyone in the work environment. Sometimes, people just need to feel like their complaints are being heard and acknowledged. Be firm, quiet and sympathetic, rather than making rude retorts.
Remember, professionalism is one essential factor that makes the difference between a highly valued individual and one that is a liability. It is safe to say that everything from appearance to attitude counts, however, there isn’t always a clear list of rules when it comes to the “P” word and we would love you to share some important rules that applies to being a “Pro”…