Professionalism is a reflection of your character, your values, your effectiveness, and your competency. It is the image that others have of you and lies at the junction of your behavior, skills and knowledge. For most practitioners it is a skill that is continually honed.
It is said that there are four pillars of professionalism. They are: altruism, integrity, responsibility and respect. A lack of professionalism would be behavior that is contrary to these ideals. But what does that look like in today’s world?
Here are the most common behaviors that point to a lack of professionalism.
1. Not Being Timely and Punctual / Poor Time Management
Being on time is one of the most fundamental qualities of professionalism. If you struggle with this, shift your thinking and make it a priority to organize yourself and your time.
2. Not Being Honest / Lack of Integrity
People need to know that you are trustworthy, honest and possess integrity.
3. Not Being Competent
A core component of professionalism is competency. If you aren’t really sure what you are supposed be doing or what you are supposed to know, ask someone, then set about developing those skills. Make self-improvement a daily habit.
4. Not Taking Responsibility / Not Being Accountable
Being accountable for your actions and taking responsibility are key life skills. If an error occurs, be the person to accept the responsibility and take action to resolve the issue, even if the mistake was not directly your own. Step up and never pass the buck!
5. Not Being Reliable
People need to know that they can rely on you. Reliability sits evenly with trustworthiness.
6. Half Listening / Not Listening
The number one skill most important to people is the ability for you to listen to them and HEAR them. Listen, empathize and provide them with helpful information so they are able to make confident decisions. Failure to do so will mean a loss in their trust.
7. Being Unavailable
People expect to hear from you regularly. Slow communication sends a message that they are not important to you. Answer calls and emails in a timely manner.
8. Not Being Organized or Prepared
To work efficiently and effectively, you need to be well organized. Structure your day and your work environment; anticipate needs and requirements to be better prepared. Never leave anything to the last minute. Be an effective planner.
9. Not Paying Attention to Your Appearance
Failure to take care of your appearance will telegraph a poor work ethic and a low level of competency. Studies show that people have more trust in someone who is dressed professionally.
10. Not Being Diligent or Consistent
When you fail to demonstrate a consistently strong work ethic, you are also demonstrating a lack of due diligence. Both lead to errors and delays that cost money and create other problems.
11. Not Being a Problem Solver
Learn to identify problems before they occur, but when they do, help find resolutions.
12. Being Arrogant / Lacking Respect
No one likes arrogance. Be confident, but be a team player. Be humble, respectful and kind.
Professionalism is a code, a standard, for conducting business. If you are not seen as professional, finding long standing employment or building a business will be difficult.
Instead: Do the right thing. Go the extra mile. Have integrity when no one else is looking. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Be ethical. Respect others. Learn something new every day. Raise your own bar – be better!
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