How To Be Professional In The Workplace

Professionalism is defined as your work conduct in a work setting. How do you want to be portrayed when it boils down to business? Me personally, I wouldn't want for anyone to misconstrue who I am when I am not in the office for who I am when I am working. Because believe me, those are two very different people. 

I have worked in a variety of different work settings, and for each I have had to maintain a level of professionalism. In each setting I have worked with some people that understood what is considered the "proper" work conduct and some that were just beyond unprofessional. I've always ensured that regardless of the profession, I carried a high level of professionalism in each place.

Here are some tips on how be professional in the workplace:

Get To Work On Time
I am really big about time etiquette. If I am to be at work at 8:00 AM, I am getting to the office at 7:45 AM. Why 15 minutes earlier? Well, I like to get myself settled in. I like to fix my cup of tea and put my lunch into the fridge. I like to check my emails and my voice mails. I like to examine what my workload will consist of for the day so that I can prioritize. I am always on top of what I need to handle for that day because I allowed myself a bit of wiggle room. 15 minutes may be a bit too early for some, but I think arriving exactly at 8:00 AM is cutting it too close.

Don't Gossip
Just about every work environment has that one employee that will talk about anyone. Avoid it. Don't get caught up in the juicy details of what your co-worker Shannon was doing during her lunch break. I like to eavesdrop, but you will never hear me say anything about my co-workers. The last thing I want is for my name to come up in conversation as having had something to add. "Well, you know Rhonda said this." Nope!

Watch What You Say
I know it's hard sometimes to mind your words. It seems people nowadays will become offended from the simplest things. But, you have to be careful about what you say in the work setting. You'd be amazed with how a colleague may have interpreted your words. I never discuss politics, religion, or even just my basic opinion on a matter if it doesn't involve work. I've had a few colleagues that will curse like a sailor. It was a bit shocking to see at first, but you won't hear me dropping any F bombs in the workplace.

Dress Appropriately
OK...there are some laid back work environments that aren't as uptight about the way you dress. I actually miss the days where I could get away with wearing a pair of jeans and flip flops to work. But, make sure your attire is still a representation of who you are. Iron your clothes. Avoid rips and tears in your jeans. Don't wear anything that is too revealing. You want to present yourself in a way that says, "I actually washed my ass today."

Respect The Chain
When I was a supervisor, I worked with a young lady that NEVER respected the chain of command. She would communicate issues and problems with my direct supervisor instead of coming to me for them. My supervisor would ask me about a problem that was presented and I'm looking at him like, "Huh!" I totally get it if you've presented a matter to your supervisor and nothing has improved, the next step is to take it to their direct supervisor. But skipping over someone's head just because it's Wednesday is a big no.

Keep a Cool Head
I'll admit that when I was younger I struggled with this. Naturally, you may bump heads with a coworker. Try to handle the dispute as maturely as you can. Back then, I would tell it like it is and didn't think twice about it. But I've learned that there's always a better way to communicate problems more effectively in the work setting besides being the one to "pop-off".

Keep Your Word
If you told Billy in the cubicle beside you that you'll help out with a project, keep your word. Don't back out of commitments that you've made if your only reason is because you don't want to do it anymore. I learned this lesson the hard way. Don't sign up if you aren't committed to the task. I've said yes to some additional tasks and immediately regretted it.

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