Professionalism is defined as the conduct, behavior, and attitude of someone in a work or business environment. The standards of professionalism are constantly changing with today’s time. As women of color, studies have proven that we are constantly held to higher expectations in the workforce due to inequality and the ‘standards’ society has set. A solid, show no mercy approach may function admirably for a couple of executives. However, if you’re not one of them, unprofessional conduct can negatively impact your associations with coworkers, and limit your progress in your career.
Here are some key elements of professionalism…
The first element I will be discussing is appearance. Many people assume appearance is just what you have on but it also includes how your hair and nails look, your posture, and your overall demeanor. While how you dress is the biggest factor in your appearance, I have been in professional settings with the sharpest outfit on and a brain full of knowledge but unfortunately, my broken nail was the star of the show. I have also been in professional settings where my outfit, hair, and nails were perfectly fine but my posture was lazy and my demeanor was off causing me to not be taken seriously. One thing that has always helped me throughout my professional career is always checking the attire for any meeting, event, etc. Just to assure my appearance is in unison with the expectations. Appearance helps companies project the right image with clients and the public. The air of confidence your appearance exudes makes people respect you more, according to CareerTrends.com.
The next element I will be discussing is accountability. What is your first move when things go wrong in your workplace? A sector of professionalism includes holding yourself accountable for your words and actions, especially when you have made a mistake, according to Mind Tools. If you are a manager, you delegate certain project tasks to colleagues, but you are the one who is ultimately responsible for completing the project on time. Your scale of accountability only gets bigger as you get advanced to higher-level positions.
Competence is being able to do your job in the most effective way. In any profession, you were hired to perform a plethora of tasks, such as supervising employees, training them, preparing budgets, writing reports, or selling products. Your skills and past experience play a huge role in your competence on any job. Competence also includes independence and self-direction. In other words, you know what needs to be done without close supervision. Organization is also another part of competence according to Career Builder.
Last but not least, I will be discussing what I feel is the most important element of professionalism and that is integrity. Bob Marley once said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Although many people have different approaches to how they feel they should act in a workplace, everyone can agree your integrity is really the most important. When a client pays you to complete a market research study, for example, you perform to the best of your ability. You don’t take shortcuts or shortchange the client on what you promised them — data table, a report, and information on key competitors, for example. Similarly, integrity means being honest with your employer; writing the exact amount on an expense report instead of over-reporting your tips and gas mileage.