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Professionalism in the workplace is a combination of an individual's standards of behavior, the character he exhibits, the attitude he brings to work, and how he goes about performing his job. These qualities together add up to an employee who maximizes his contribution to the company's success while working in harmony with the other members of the organization.
One measure of professionalism is extending courtesy to those above and below you in an organization. Some people in a business setting go out of their way to act respectful to their boss in the hopes it will lead to advancement but treat those who rank below them with less courtesy. The true professional sees each individual as a contributor to the company's success, from entry-level people on up.
The relatively simple concept of being where you are supposed to be when you are expected to be there can be difficult for some individuals to master. Being chronically late for meetings with subordinates or colleagues shows lack of respect for the value of their time. Arriving late at work even if a supervisor doesn't notice is a sign to co-workers in an organization that the individual thinks the rules are for everyone else but him.
Attention to Dress and Grooming
Over the last few decades, dress codes in the workplace have relaxed, giving the individual more choice. This can mean a business casual standard -- where men are no longer required to wear ties -- all the way to having no dress code at all. Professionalism demands that employees remember they are in a work setting, not at home on a Saturday afternoon. Many employees interact with customers and vendors as well as with co-workers. Their appearance reflects on the opinion those outside the organization form about the company. Sloppy, careless choices in dress are not the way to exhibit professionalism.
Separate Work and Home Life
Members of an organization are expected to focus on their job responsibilities while at work. They should not allow problems in their personal lives to affect how they behave in the workplace, such as being short tempered with subordinates, taking too many personal phone calls or being distracted. Professionalism means understanding that when you arrive at work in the morning, you give the company your full attention.
True professionals know that some days are better than others at work. They know that unexpected negative events can occur in business, resulting in the company missing an important sales goal, for example. Exhibiting professionalism means remaining calm under crisis situations and being a role model of mature behavior for others in the organization. When the natural inclination is to express anger, a professional remains calm. Professional behavior means being mature enough to accept blame for mistakes that were your responsibility and not blaming others. A professional has enough self-confidence to share credit with others rather than always trying to be the center of attention.
An individual's attitude at work affects those around her. A perpetually negative person can create a negative environment for an entire department. Conversely, a person who understands that positive attitude contributes to group harmony, cooperation and ultimately success is able to make those around her positive as well. This lessens the chance of conflict and improves morale. A professional understands she is partially responsible for whether those she works with have a positive, rewarding workplace experience.
Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."