It is important to be professional if you want to have a successful business, but what does actually it mean? Professionalism doesn’t have one definition that you can follow in many cases you're supposed to pick it up on your own through a combination of observation and osmosis, but that's not always easy to do. Learning on the job can be tough and with a lot of land mines, you cannot always see your mistakes coming.
Here are 10 key elements of professionalism that you should implement early in your career:
1. Cultural Behavior & norms in your place of business/organization, and follow them. Watch how others operate, you'll learn important things about how’s things done here." For instance, you might observe that everyone shows up precisely on time for meetings, that they modulate their voices when others are on the phone, and that people rely on email for non urgent questions. These are important signals for what will be expected of your own behavior and you'llcome across as tone deaf if you ignore them.
2. Be pleasant and polite to people. You will have to work with strangers and not always you will know everybody personally, and even with people who aren't very nice. You'll look far more professional if you don't let them get under your skin and instead remain calm and easy to work with.
3. Be serious at preforming your job. If you make a mistake or something doesn't go well, don't brush it off. Accept responsibility for your part in what went wrong.
4. Speak up when work isn't getting done on time. Part of taking real ownership for your work means that you're responsible for alerting your boss when things are going off course.
5. Realize that getting feedback on your work is part of the job - it's not personal. There is no reason getting angry or defensive or otherwise taking it personally when your manager gives you feedback can be an easy trap to fall into, but it will make you look not professional. And after all, if you care about doing your job well and advancing, don't you want to know where you need to do better?
6. Write clearly and professionally. That means no text speak, and correct punctuation and capitalization. This doesn't mean that youneed to write as if you were addressing the Queen of England, but you do need to take care that you don't sound like you're texting a friend from a nightclub either.
7. Be flexible. Yes, your workday might formally end at 5 p.m. but if staying an 1HR late will ensure the newsletter goes to the printer on time, you should do it unless that's truly impossible. That doesn't mean to ignore important commitments in your own life, but you shouldn't let important work go undone just because of your quitting time. Similarly, take it easy when it comes to changes in work plans, goals or other things that might evolve as work moves forward.
8. Show up reliably.Unless you have pre scheduled vacation time or you're truly ill, you should be at work when they're expecting you to be there. It's not OK to call in sick because you're hung over, or because you stayed up late last night watching soccer.
9. Be helpful, and do more than solely what's in your job description. The way that you gain a great professional reputation which will give you options that you can use to earn more money, get out of bad situations and not have to take the first job that comes along is by doing more than the bare minimum required. That means always looking for ways to do your job better.
10. Don't treat your manager as your adversary.
If you have even a decent manager, she wants to see you do well and is not your enemy. But if you instead see her as someone whose job is to enforce rules, it will show and it won't look good. Treat your manager as a team mate, one who has authority over you, yes, but one who' working toward the same goals as you are. (And if you're not sure whether this is true of yourmanager, that's a big red flag to pay attention to.