Professionalism is defined as a person’s conduct at work. It refers to the level of competence or excellence that is expected of a professional. One should never apologise for having high standards and rather provide the level of expectation.

It is the employer’s duty to ensure good performance by all his/her employees, so their company will be viewed as professional. Employees should be made aware of the type of environment and conduct the employer desires and they should follow the rules set by the employer.

Professionalism is not industry-specific

Regardless of the industry in which you work, all jobs have one thing in common: in order to be respected and to advance in your career, you need to display professionalism. On a construction site, a professional worker will work hard and manage their time effectively, while a professional employee in a customer service setting will be polite in their interactions with clients and have a neat appearance. In an office setting, a professional employee will work productively with others and strive for a high standard and constant improvement.

Professionalism may look slightly different in different work environments, but the key elements are more or less the same. Businesses should allocate the appropriate amount of funds to ensure professionalism in their company; policies and procedures should clearly outline what is expected of employees when it comes to professionalism, and training sessions should be offered to those entering the company or to those struggling to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

Developing professionalism in the workplace

Business professionals should actively develop their problem-solving skills, adopting analytic tools that, coupled with intuition, will help them to make sound and effective decisions. Business professionals must be realistic problem solvers. To solve problems is a skill, and like any skill, your abilities will improve with practice. As one develops decision-making abilities in less important situations, it will become easier to handle more complex ones because you have learned from your previous experiences.

As business professionals develop and mature in their experience and ability, they should develop a sense of confidence and competence. Like every other part of professionalism, confidence should be an intentional part of the professional core, requiring both practise and reflection. Opportunities to practise and reflect on professionalism should be created by employers in order to ensure that their staff’s conduct is of the desired standard.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)