Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 20, 2020

How to Be More Professional at Work and Make a Good Impression

How to Be More Professional at Work and Make a Good Impression

Any job you do, even those where you are able to work from a home office, requires being professional, whether it’s through how you dress, how you speak, or how you act. The best way to work is by paying attention to your level of professionalism. It will earn you a great deal of positive interactions with your boss and coworkers. 

Being more professional day to day in the office can help you in many ways. You can gain respect from others, and it can help with being promoted. Here are nine tips you can apply to help you be more professional in the office.

1. Consider the Dress Code

There’s usually a dress code set for a workplace. This is different for men and women, and it can be different for each company. To remain a professional person 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.

If you are a woman and the company you work for suggest a dress or skirt, you can always discuss this with your boss if you prefer to wear dress pants. Most companies will be flexible with this, so don’t be afraid to ask!

2. 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.

Advertising

The ability to do this will depend on your commitments outside of work. I’m not suggesting you need to work ten or twelve hour days. Even adding an extra ten or twenty minutes to your day will help 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. When you do arrive early or leave late, don’t spend a lot of time sitting idly. Stay productive and focus on important tasks to create an even better impression.

If you’re still not convinced, this article talks about why it makes sense to arrive early when you have the opportunity to do so: 6 Reasons Why it Makes Sense to Arrive Early.

3. 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[1].

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.

Also, do your best to avoid talking down to your coworkers. If you feel they could improve or be more professional, try to suggest this in a respectful way or even through a professionally written email.

4. Arrive on Time to Meetings

Meetings at work are common. While they are often boring or seem to be useless, 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.

Advertising

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.

To go the extra mile, arrive four or five minutes early[2]. It will show your enthusiasm and your level of respect for your coworkers and your boss. It will also give you a moment to get yourself set up for the meeting without disturbing others.

This also applies to online meetings. If an online call is set for 3:00, enter the platform at 2:55. When the boss sees you’re early to arrive, you’ll make a great impression.

5. 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 in order to be professional.

Whether this is organizing 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. Try not to get on social media during the day if possible. If you need to print documents for personal use, try to do it at home or somewhere else if possible.

It is more respectful if you’re not wasting company time to do your own things, even if it is only for a short time. Your work space is for work.

Advertising

6. 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 generalization 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.

More and more workplaces are relaxing standards on things such as hair length, tattoos, etc., but this doesn’t mean you should let your personal grooming go completely. Show your personal style, but do it in a way that recognizes that you know how to be professional at the office.

7. 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 make a good impression on 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 a good place to start.

8. 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.

Advertising

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 necessary, and you don’t need to put anything like that on your signature.

9. Put Your Mobile Phone on Silent

Our 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.

Final Thoughts

Paying attention to how professional you are at the office can go a long way in improving the level of respect your coworkers and boss have for you. Doing good work is a great start, and professionalism is the icing on the cake. Be conscientious and considerate; you’ll be amazed how far it gets you.

More on How to Be Professional

Featured photo credit: Hunters Race via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Career Trend: Displaying a Professional Attitude
[2] The Business Journals: 10 advantages to arriving early to meetings

More by this author

Ben Brumm

Ben is a business analyst and software developer. He shares career advice on Lifehack.

How to Be More Professional at Work and Make a Good Impression 5 Tips for Recovering After a Long Day at Work Burnt Out What To Do If You’re Feeling Burnt Out Already young IT intern 5 Tips For Your First IT Internship 5 Things To Do While Waiting For Your Computer

Trending in Work

1 Feel like Giving Up? 16 Way to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Motivated 2 How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details 3 Make Everyone At The Office Happy By Installing This 4 10 Tools to Start an Online Business without Breaking the Bank 5 How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

Advertising

  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

Advertising

Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

Advertising

3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

Advertising

If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next