No matter where you work, it’s crucial that you always carry yourself with professionalism and grace in the workplace – especially considering how it can impact your chances of getting ahead in the company. Even if you work in a small startup with just two other employees. After all, you don’t want a reputation of being the office slacker now, do you?
Luckily, we’ve put together a list of 15 essential tips to help you maintain professionalism in the workplace at all times.
1. Be Respectful
Even if you think your supervisor is a complete idiot who doesn’t really deserve their position, you should avoid ever voicing your opinion in a professional environment. Badmouthing them will only make you look immature, unprofessional and maybe even a little jealous – which is definitely something you don’t want to be perceived as.
Remember to treat everyone equally, whether they’re the cleaner or the CEO. Likewise, respect all your company’s policies, even if you don’t agree with them – they’ve been put in place for a reason, so if you think that keeping your phone in your bag is completely ridiculous (especially in today’s digital age), make sure you follow the rules.
2. Dress for Success
Looking the part is half the battle when it comes to maintaining a professional image for yourself in the workplace. In fact, a good work outfit can make you feel more confident and ready for the day ahead – kind of like putting on your suit of armour and riding into battle.
In other words, make sure you’re always on top of your game by dress for success. This means closely following your company’s dress code to a T. You could even dress a little smarter if you want to – of course, that doesn’t mean going overboard and rocking up to the office in a 3-piece suit if you work in a casual startup, for example. That will definitely make you stand out – but for all the wrong reasons!
3. Be Punctual
Arriving on time is perhaps one of the best ways to demonstrate your workplace professionalism and get noticed by upper management in the process.
So, if you have an important meeting at 9am, aim to arrive 5 minutes earlier. The same applies to arriving to work each day – you might think that strolling a few minutes late into work isn’t going to damage your image, but your clock-watching boss will likely think otherwise.
4. Have a Positive Attitude
No matter how much you love your job, there will always be days when you simply want to give up and throw in the towel, whether that’s because you received negative feedback or a colleague said something to upset you. Whatever the case, it’s important to stay positive and behave as professionally as possible, so push any personal feelings aside and remind yourself of all the reasons why you love your job.
This also applies to when you’re given tasks to complete that fall outside your job description. Rather than complain about how ‘unfair’ it is and how it’s ‘not your job’, you’ll do good to shift your attitude and start accepting any additional duties with a positive outlook – after all, it will help you progress your career in the long run.
5. Be Truthful and Trustworthy
Having an open and honest line of communication with your manager is imperative, especially if you want to get anywhere during your time at the company or in your career in general. Your manager needs to know they can rely on you for anything, so make sure you deliver – whether that’s ensuring that last-minute booking is executed correctly or that you’re calling in sick when you are indeed sick (unlike that colleague of yours who keeps pulling a sickie instead of taking a personal day).
So, next time you’re running late, don’t make up a ridiculous excuse; just be honest and tell your boss that you didn’t hear your alarm go off. They’ll appreciate the honesty and, in return, reciprocate it.
6. Keep Your Working Area Tidy
A tidy workspace denotes that you’re organised, that all your tasks are in order and that you’re on top of everything (even if you’re not), as well as cut time down in half to find important documents you need ASAP. Not only that but it also suggests that you respect company property and that you take care of it just as you do your personal belongings.
7. Mind Your Telephone Manners
If you tend to answer the phone with a half-hearted ‘Hello… this is John’ or reply to an email in text-speak, you’re definitely setting yourself up for failure.
Your phone greeting should always be professional and upbeat, something along the lines of: ‘Good morning/afternoon. Company ABC, John speaking’. Likewise, when sending emails, you should adopt a professional tone, use correct English, include a signature (with your job title and contact information) and add an appropriate closing (such as ‘Best wishes’).
8. Be Organised
Organisation goes hand in hand with professionalism, and the more organised you are, the more likely you’ll be recognised for it. It demonstrates an innate ability to prioritise and delegate, and that you’re a master of time management. That’s not to say less organised people don’t have a great work ethic (in fact, many geniuses out there are known for their lack of organisation skills), but until you make it to the top of the ladder, it’s a good idea to get all your ducks lined in a row.
9. Always Have Tact
No matter who you’re talking to, even if it’s your work bestie, it’s important to be tactful in the workplace. If you need to approach a tricky situation, for example, be sure to not act with emotion and instead take a few minutes to gather your thoughts to avoid saying something you may later regret.
If you’re a manager, meanwhile, you need to be extremely careful when delivering both positive and constructive criticism. You don’t want your team to think you’re favouring or singling out another co-worker, after all!
10. Go Above and Beyond
Your job description requires you to perform a set list of duties, but if you want to demonstrate to upper management how capable you are and how you deserve that next promotion, then you’ll have to go above and beyond in everything you do. For example, if you find yourself with nothing to do, use your initiative and find something that you can improve. Not only will this show your keenness to work but it will also prove your readiness to take on new responsibilities.
11. Avoid Gossip
Getting sucked into the drama of office politics is easy – it just takes a simple nod of agreement and you’re instantly participating in workplace gossip or, worse, bullying. To remain professional, it’s best to not get involved in any kind of theatrics – if you really want to moan about Jane from Accounting, for example, leave it for your next get-together with a friend outside work.
12. Don’t Slack Off
It’s only natural that occasionally you will lack motivation and will want to slack off a little, scroll through Facebook or have a long chat with your work bestie – but just because everyone else seems to be doing just that, it doesn’t mean it’s right! Remember: your boss is likely keeping track of your performance and getting caught slacking off won’t bode well for your future in the company.
13. Set a Good Example
Following on from the previous point, your actions set an example for newer employees. So, if you’re talking on the phone all day (about personal issues) or shopping online, you’re silently telling your colleagues that it’s okay for them to do the same unprofessional things.
14. Mind Your Body Language
Have you ever noticed that all successful entrepreneurs have great body language? They sit up straight, stand tall and walk around with their heads held high. In other words, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to start acting the part, so watch out for how you carry yourself and how you’re presenting yourself to those around you: employers, colleagues and even clients.
15. Don’t Swear
Even if the rest of your colleagues are profound potty mouths, it’s best if you don’t join in. You never know who’s in earshot, and if your f*cks and sh*ts reach the wrong ears, rest assured their image of you will be affected. So, before you start swearing in the workplace, think about what your grandma would say.
Being professional in the workplace can only do you good – it will set you apart from all your unprofessionally acting colleagues and bring you one step closer to that promotion you’re after. And by following these tips, you’ll be able to accomplish just that, as well as make a good impression on your boss and those you work with.
Do you have any other tips on how to maintain professionalism in the workplace? Join in on the conversation below and let us know!