Upon searching the web about how to be professional at the workplace, I stumbled upon loads of articles just like you, including the dos and don’ts or how to’s on being a professional. Though such articles are helpful to a certain extent and offer guidance on the subject, such lists are often hard to implement in real time cuz either they are too long or listy to remember, or simply contradict with your personality. Therefore, I decided to give you the theme or the essence of it all based on what has worked well for me during my 11 years as a professional.
I was an employee for 8 long years before being promoted to a mid-level manager and now ply my trade as a C-level executive. Throughout my career, the meaning of professionalism has stayed the same and I would like to offer my two cents on the subject if it can benefit any individual who reads this article.
Professionalism to me has always been about “Doing the right thing at the right time” and this simple rule has done wonders for me at my work place.
Now certainly, you might say right is different for different individuals, but I would disagree with anyone who has such an opinion, because we are humans who are gifted with two things that set us apart from all other species or creations, the brain and the heart. The brain helps us think of ways to interact or ways to solve certain problems and the heart, or let’s replace it by conscience, always by default tells us if we are doing the right thing or the wrong, i.e. when you would shout on your direct reports or your colleagues or your boss, you will immediately know deep down that you didn’t do the right thing.
Having preached “right” I would like to make a clear distinction here, that your work place is not the place to be “Mother Teresa”. Surprising? Well what I am trying to say here is that don’t think of people at your work place as your buddies or families, wherein you start doing favors to them just to do the right thing.
The right time matters a lot. Somethings or actions are more effective at a certain moment. You need to be patient and witty about choosing that right moment. For example if you would want to talk about your increment, do so when your work has stood out time and again and you are highly talked of. Still choose a moment when your boss is in a splendid mood etc. You would usually have a single shot at such things, strike when the iron is hot. I guess you are getting what I am saying here.
When you enter the workplace, be it the first day at your job or any other day down the years, you must understand that this is a place where people come to make money and if they had a choice to choose either you or money, 99.9% of them would choose money over you 99.9% of the time. True friendship is very very rare at work place, don’t even think on those lines. However, this doesn’t mean start creating enemies. Always be kind, but when required show enough to let others know you are not a walk over.
The best approach to professionalism is to enter your work place without, or with as less feelings as possible. After all, you are there to make money as well, and you are better served working as a machine then working with feelings of love, anger, care and all that. Treat your work life as a separate life, which you would want to forget as soon as you exit the work place. Doing the aforementioned will help you keep your calm and sanity in the office and help you enjoy your personal life after work. In all these years this approach has worked well for me, I totally endorse it.
In professional life, you would often come across choices that would define your character in front of others or merely to yourself. Don’t get tangled in keeping everyone happy, and being political to a level that you are thinking about how to approach simple things like saying a Hi to your boss or direct reports etc. Be yourself, be natural and be respectful of the human being in front of you and not the titles. Doing the right thing saves you from over thinking and over complicating stuff and helps you focus on what’s important, which is achieving your objectives and perfection in work.
At some point in your career, you might be presented with a choice to go really low with a reward of improving your chances of an increment or a promotion by acts such as giving intel on your colleagues to your boss, or showing someone your foot to please your boss. DON’T. You might get what you wanted, but this will weigh high on your conscience and self-esteem unless you are a seasoned exploiter with no conscience. If you are good enough in what you do, trust me, I am telling this from my personal experience, your work will do the talking and I would highly advise you to let your work do the talking cuz whatever you would gain from going this route will be permanent. Political appointments and promotions are often short-lived cuz they have no substance to them.
Another very important attribute is knowing the value of time and acting accordingly. Don’t waste your time in activities that don’t add value to your objective, be it gossiping or spending 30 minutes in a meeting for something that can be done just through email communications. Time is money, actually time is more valuable than money cuz once gone, is gone for good.
A few attributes that will do wonders to your image at your work place are being well groomed, decent, polite, friendly, ethical and honest. Moreover, do read the code of conduct of your work place if there is one and abide to it.
In order to sum it up, the simple rule of thumb is just to do the right thing in order to achieve the right objective, avoid emotional attachment, be positive and rest will take care of itself.
I hope this article will give you clarity about professionalism and how to be at your workplace. If you did find any silver linings in this article, I am truly humbled and would appreciate if you would give it a Like using the Like button below. Feel free to follow me as well.
I would love to hear your voice on the subject as well. Your comments and feedback are highly appreciated.