Professionalism in Today’s Workplace
Professionalism. It’s a powerful word with a powerful meaning to those who care about it and set standards for it in their lives. To others, it may be a buzzword, something that doesn’t mean much because they don’t know how to apply the idea to their lives.
What does Professionalism mean to you?
I think there are many ways to define the practice of professionalism, and I won’t bore you with the standard dictionary definition. Professionalism is an idea, and to different people it can mean different things. I’ll tell you what it means to me.
Professionalism starts with appearance. Putting your best foot forward, and dressing and presenting yourself in the right way, for the right situation. That doesn’t mean dressing in a 3 piece suit to work in a warehouse, but it does mean dressing with pride and dressing appropriately for your job role. But it doesn’t stop there.
After you’ve dressed the part, you need to act the part. This involves everything from arriving early/on-time each day, being a reliable member of a team, holding yourself accountable for your work, not making excuses when your work isn’t at its best, being honest, polite, and respectful. Communicating well and being proactive. I could go on and on with adjectives to describe the kind of person we all want to work for and with. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Surprisingly it isn’t.
Professionalism may come easy to some, and for others it may be a challenge to strive for this level of behavior – but anyone can be professional by just following the key elements of this idea.
“Get up, dress up, show up, and don’t give up”
Let me tell you what professionalism isn’t.
Making excuses, making false promises, not showing up, not meeting deadlines, not being a contributing member to your team, gossiping, not meeting the expectations of your job – whether it is quotas, metrics, or some non-quantifiable aspect. None of these behaviors help you in the long run, they make your life harder than it has to be, and you will not be successful with this kind of negative baggage.
What can you do about it?
The willingness to learn and the willingness to change can only come from you. Make professionalism a priority. Exceed customer (and your boss’s) expectations. Be proactive instead of reactive. Learn what it takes to be successful in your company, and really learn how to work with the members of your team. Hold yourself accountable for mistakes. Admit them. Learn from them. If you find yourself making an excuse, think hard if it is truly a valid reason, or if you are just covering up poor work. Dress for the job you hope to have one day (within reason of your current profession). Find a mentor who invests in your success. Become a leader. Set goals and strive for success. Learn your company culture, values, and mission. Live by them. If you aren’t a good fit for your company’s values – then move on to somewhere that fits more with your ideals. Maintain your boundaries and leave your personal stuff at the door. Exercise good time management. Make yourself so valuable that you can’t be ignored. Watch what can happen, professionally, when you embrace this ideal.
What does professionalism mean to you?