15 Steps on How To Be a Professional

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 21, 2022 | Published January 5, 2021

Updated June 21, 2022

Published January 5, 2021

Professionalism is a good quality to possess to succeed in the workplace. Professionals develop and practice several characteristics and qualities that help them make a positive impression. Learning how to be a professional can help you progress along your career path. In this article, we discuss practical tips that can help you become a professional.

What does it mean to be a professional?

Being a professional means you conduct yourself in a way that shows your work ethic and makes a positive impression on others. Professionals have a set of qualities and characteristics, like dependability and respect, that help them succeed in their roles and inspire others to do the same. Other characteristics that could contribute to being a professional include dressing appropriately for the workplace, helping teammates with tasks and being positive throughout the workday.

Why is being professional at work important?

Professionalism is a sign of responsibility, dependability and loyalty. It can help you better connect with coworkers, allowing you to achieve higher-quality results. Having a professional attitude means you're usually more empathetic toward team members, which can help tell when they might need assistance.

Practicing professionalism also helps you to be more proactive. You're more likely to keep certain habits that allow you to identify potential challenges well before they happen and find ways to overcome or avoid them.

Your manager will probably notice your strong work ethic and eagerness to accept new responsibilities, which can help you earn more promotions and raises.

How to be a professional

You can follow these 15 steps to help you be a professional:

1. Keep time

Keep track of your time to ensure you finish your work by the deadline and respect everyone else's schedule. Try to arrive early to work, attend meetings on time and complete time-sensitive tasks before coworkers or managers need them. It's helpful to keep your calendar updated and add notifications for meetings and deadlines.

2. Follow the dress code

The first impression matters, and it can shape how customers and colleagues think about you. Present yourself in a neat and professional manner based on your company's dress code. Ensure you wear any recommended safety gear if you're out in the field, and make sure your clothes are always neat and clean. Offering a professional appearance can help you positively influence coworkers and clients.

3. Maintain focus

As soon as you arrive in the workplace, begin your day. Check your emails, make a to-do list or finish any tasks you weren't able to complete the day before. To help stay focused, keep your cellphone on silent and out of view, and if you work on a computer, close any tabs that aren't related to the work you're doing.

Read more: 10 Ways to Improve Your Focus at Work

4. Demonstrate a positive attitude

The things you do and say define how professional you seem at the workplace. People thrive in positive environments, so it's helpful to keep a friendly and upbeat attitude. Keep your focus on work, and keep conversations during breaks positive.

Read more: 10 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

5. Be mindful

When faced with tight deadlines and difficult work, try to be mindful of how your actions affect others. If you're working on a project with multiple team members, make sure you finish your work if a coworker needs it to do their part. You can also ensure you keep your workspace and common spaces clean and tidy.

6. Be confident

Portraying confidence in work involves knowing your strengths and weaknesses. A confident professional knows the power of teamwork and acts in ways that convey to others their expertise and competence. Working professionally means acknowledging that some tasks need team efforts while valuing the individual contributions of everyone.

Read more: 11 Tips for Improving Confidence at Work

7. Demonstrate good communication skills

Communicating effectively is one of the important ways to be professional. Carefully listen to what people say, learn from their feedback and add your opinion.

Read more: 10 Communication Skills for Career Success

8. Show your organization skills

Keeping your working area neat and organized shows your ability to manage tasks, keep time and remain focused. Avoiding clutter gives you room to work in a tidy environment, which can improve your productivity. With an organized space, you can prioritize and delegate tasks with ease.

9. Engage in appropriate workplace conversations

Show your professional manner at work by starting and participating in work-appropriate conversations. Avoid gossip or negative conversations, or try to move the conversation toward something positive. Encouraging others to engage in appropriate conversations can help the workplace feel more positive and welcoming.

10. Be empathetic

At times, the people you work around encounter challenges. Being empathic when a coworker is experiencing a challenge can show you care about your team and want to help. Consider ways you can make work a little easier while they're moving past an obstacle.

11. Demonstrate self-awareness

Understand what drives you and how you can improve your work. Consider making a list of strengths and weaknesses so you can physically read your qualities and see where you develop professionally.

Read more: What is Self-Awareness: Tips on Being More Mindful at Work

12. Act as a role model

Learn how to be professional in the workplace by setting an example for others to emulate. Be diligent and show discretion when handling problems. Try to be a colleague who uplifts and supports others in the workplace.

13. Be honest and trustworthy

Professionals portray integrity in their daily undertakings by keeping their word and complying with workplace ethics. It is invaluable for colleagues to trust you, allowing you to build stronger relationships. To be a professional, try to be accountable for your words and actions, and be ready to apologize if you make a mistake.

14. Show competence

Being professional in the workplace involves demonstrating your expertise and reliability in what you do. You can make it easy for teammates to collaborate with you when you finish your work without errors. Competence translates to high productivity, better team engagement and progressive career growth.

15. Offer to help when you can

Recognize when team members may need your help and offer assistance. You could help them with something as big as finishing a project before the deadline or something as small as locating a file. Being helpful shows that you care about your coworkers and want to help them succeed.

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