Being more professional in the office can help you in many ways. You can gain respect from others, and it can help with being promoted. Read nine of my biggest tips on being more professional at work.
Consider The Dress Code
There’s usually a dress code set for a workplace. This is different for men and women, and can be different for each company. To remain professional in the office, I would suggest dressing above the dress code. Let me explain what I mean by this.
If a company has a dress code that states employees must at least wear pants and a collared shirt in the office, then I would suggest wearing suit pants and a dress shirt. It meets the criteria, but it’s a little more professional. You could add to this by even wearing a suit jacket. If the standard is suit pants and a dress shirt, add a tie or a suit jacket. This will make you stand out in a good way, as someone who is professional and respects the company they work for.
Work More Than The Minimum Hours
Most offices usually have a minimum working time period. This is the time that you should arrive to work by, and leave work after, at the end of the day. One way to improve your professionalism is to work longer than those hours.
The ability to do this will depend on your commitments outside of work. I’m not suggesting we need to work ten or twelve hour days. Adding an extra thirty or sixty minutes to your day will make others perceive you as more professional and passionate about your job, which is a good thing. Arriving before the required start time, and leaving after the required end time, will make it seem like you’re not watching the clock and are actually trying to improve at your job.
Maintain a Professional Attitude
Being professional at work is not just about arriving on time and dressing appropriately. It’s also about how you act. The things you say and actions you take can define how professional you seem at the office. You can act however you like outside the office, but to remain professional at work, it’s a good idea to keep a professional attitude.
This means what you think about and what you say should be considerate of your work environment. Try to refrain from offensive jokes and stories about drinking and partying on the weekend. Keep your focus on work while you’re there, and you’ll be perceived as being more professional.
Arrive On Time to Meetings
Meetings at work are common. While they can sometimes not be very useful, they still exist and can be helpful for team discussions. Meetings are scheduled for a certain time, and depending on the subject, they can be quite important. Nobody likes to have their time wasted, and one of the biggest time wasters is not being able to start a meeting because people haven’t arrived yet.
When you go to meetings, make an effort to arrive by the scheduled start time. This is to show respect to people you’re meeting with, and not to waste time. Take into account any travel time you need, and any time you need to set up in the meeting such as with phone conferences.
Separate Personal Time and Work Time
We’ve all got things happening outside of work. It’s part of keeping a healthy work/life balance. However, we should try to limit the impact that they have on our workplace. Whether this is organising an event, speaking to friends, or dealing with problems, it’s good to try and keep it separate from your work. It’s not something that other people need to see or hear you doing.
Step away from your desk if you need to make or receive a personal call. Try to limit your personal Internet browsing to lunch times, or leave it until you get home if you can. If you need to print documents for home, try to do it at home or somewhere else if possible. It looks better if you’re not wasting company time to do your own things, even if it is only short. Sometimes it can’t be helped, which is fine, but try to minimise it.
Consider Your Personal Grooming
A good way to improve your professionalism at work is to be considerate of your personal grooming, and how it’s perceived at the office. Regardless of your feelings and thoughts towards grooming, other people may not feel the same way, and there is a generalisation or perception about some of these things.
Men should aim to be clean shaven or have a maintained beard. Messy stubble or an untrimmed beard can look unprofessional and lazy. Keeping short hair is a good suggestion as long hair can also look lazy to other people. For women, some basic make-up and neat hair is usually OK.
Have A Professional Phone Greeting
How you answer your phone says a lot about your attitude to work. Your greeting is the first thing that people hear when they call you, and you want to send a good impression to them. There are better ways to answer your phone than “Yeah?” or “Hello.” Try adding your name in there as well as a greeting. Something like “Hello, Rob speaking.” or “Good afternoon, this is Sally.” is appropriate, professional, and not too long.
Your outgoing phone greeting should also send a good image. When you call someone, they will greet you, and you should have some kind of greeting back to start the conversation. Starting with a “Hello” and adding a reason for the call is good.
Use An Appropriate Email Signature
We all use email as part of our jobs. It’s an effective form of communication if used correctly. At the bottom of any email you send is your email signature. Setting one up that is effective and professional is a good suggestion.
You should have your name, position, company, and contact details such as email and phone numbers. This is quite common and standard for a signature. There are other things you might see on signatures that don’t really belong there, and you shouldn’t use them either. Memorable or funny quotes, images, links to other sites or advice aren’t really necessary, and you don’t need to put anything like that on your signature.
Put Your Mobile Phone On Silent
Our mobile phones are with us for most of the day, either in our pockets or on our desk. A good way to be seen as more professional is to have your phone on silent or vibrate mode at work. You might have what you think is the greatest ringtone in the world, but others may disagree. Ringtones, especially loud ones, can be distracting and even annoying to others. Keeping it on silent or vibrate can make you look more considerate and professional at the office.
If the phone is next to you, or in your pocket, turning off the ringtone will still mean you know when the phone is ringing. You can see the screen light up, or hear the vibration on the desk. Having a ringtone go off in the office is just another distraction people don’t really need.
I hope these tips have helped. If you’re interested in being more professional at work, try a couple of these tips and see what your results are!
If you are working as a consultant, speaker, trainer, business leader or expert in a field then I recommend that you write a book and get it published: Improve Your Professional Credibility – Write a BookFeatured photo credit: Business of Software - Seth Godin via Flickr