Professionalism is a term you are pretty likely to see on most employers’ wish lists. But what does it actually mean?
- Is it about dressing the part?
- Speaking the part?
- Or behaving the part?
Well, whatever your role, sector or place in the hierarchy of work, being professional pretty much always ties to qualities such as respectfulness, reliability and competence.
So things like poor time-keeping, breaking promises or commitments, “borrowing” other people’s ideas without acknowledgement or generally being disrespectful to colleagues and superiors – all these things will quickly mark you out as unprofessional in the workplace.
It is important to be professional at all times in your career if you want to get on and leverage every opportunity for advancement.
So how professional are you?
Take a walk through our workplace checklist and see how you measure up in professionalism stakes. Where you excel… and those areas you might want to work on.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself
The five questions below will serve as a checklist. Do you answer yes or no to the below and how does that reflect upon your level of professionalism. Use this checklist as a way to determine where you can grow and improve. And it also will shed some light on your strengths.
Are you competent?
Seems basic, but do you really know what you are doing? Being competent in your job is the absolute bedrock of professionalism. So what about you? Do you have the skills and knowledge to get the job well? If you are pursuing a Cisco certification or already have one, the chances are that you do take yourself seriously as a competent professional. So keep up the momentum. Strive to be an expert in your field and ensure your understanding and capabilities are always up to date.
Are you reliable?
If you say you are going to do something, do you always do it? Professional people always deliver. Whether it is turning up on time, meeting a deadline, or holding to a promise. And if you feel or know that you cannot commit to something for a good and valid reason, speak up. It is better to be sincere and try hard to compensate than to over-promise and fail to deliver. In the workplace, just like in your personal life, when you let other people down, the person you are most letting down is yourself.
Do you share and share alike?
Is knowledge-sharing important to you? What happens when a job goes well? Do you hog the limelight, or are you quick to point out the contribution that others have made? Sharing is a function of team sportsmanship, and it is a key element of being professional in your demeanor. Being supportive of others is a cue that you take the collective goals of your organization seriously and that you are willing to collaborate and contribute fully to everyone’s success. It is also a really key part of leadership.
Do you go the extra mile?
Or do you down tools the second the clock hits five? Being professional – and ambitious in your career – is usually linked to a willingness to exceed expectations. It is a measure not only of your commitment, but also of your intelligence, your initiative, and the added value you can bring to an organization. Strive to deliver before time, under budget, and always think creatively about what a better solution or approach might be.
Are you positive?
Most of us will spend a significant proportion of our lives in the workplace. How do you feel about that? Does it fill you with pessimism? Or do you feel optimistic about opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and achieve?
As a techie, you are a natural problem-solver, so go with that. Seek out the challenges and find the means to overcome them. No job or career is ever problem-free, but keep your focus on the positive, learn to deal with issues that arise with confidence as well as assertiveness, and strive for personal excellence. Your attitude and approach will make a huge difference in your professional successes.
So How Professional are You?
No one is perfect, and being professional, like most other things, is a skill that you should work on and develop. Recognize any areas that you might need to improve and make them a focus – whether it is time management, managing expectations, investing in skills development, or re-thinking your essential attitudes to work.
Think big about the kind of success you want to achieve, and make that professional inside of you, your number one priority.