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The Professional You: How to Put Your Best Self Forward at Work

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 8:30 AM

Expert Advice

Written by: Kellie Wynne

Six Easy Ways to Enhance Your Professional Demeanor

Kellie Wynne
BSM Consulting senior director of cooperate services

The secrets to professionalism in the workplace are like the secrets to losing weight — most everyone knows them, but putting them into practice is often easier said than done. For some, it may be a matter of breaking a few old habits; but for others, the shift in presenting a more professional persona can represent a significant and difficult change. Similar to diet and exercise, success is achieved through small, consistent lifestyle adjustments that become easier over time.

Below are a few professional pointers to consider:

Dress appropriately. Professionalism in the workplace starts well before the workday begins. Those who are well-rested and dress well are perceived by coworkers, managers, and patients differently from those who are sloppy or unkempt. A professional appearance includes dressing appropriately for the office or clinic setting, keeping hair neat and tied back, covering possibly offensive tattoos, removing chipped fingernail polish, and minimizing makeup and accessories.

Be punctual. Employees who consistently show up on time (or even a few minutes early) demonstrate to managers and coworkers not only that they are reliable, but also that they appreciate their jobs and want to be there. This includes honoring return-times from breaks and lunch outings and not leaving for the day until the work shift has fully concluded.

Be personable, but reserved. Smiling and maintaining a positive attitude can go a long way with coworkers and patients alike, as can inquiring about more personal matters such as kids or sports team loyalties. With that said, keep conversations positive and avoid oversharing, complaining, gossiping, or discussing deeply personal or volatile subjects such as politics or religion.

Maintain professionalism during breaks. Employees should remove themselves from all areas visible to patients and quietly enjoy their break. Smoking in view of patients in the parking lot, laughing loudly in the break room, and talking on a cellphone in the hallway are just a few examples of activities that should be avoided.

Be organized (and clean). Part of being professional in the workplace involves proper management of personal belongings, office paperwork and equipment, break-room supplies, etc. It can be as simple as keeping files in a neat pile and washing and putting dishes away in the break room. Those who stay organized in all aspects of the practice environment are perceived as the most efficient and capable employees.

End at home. Many believe that their private life outside the workplace — including actions at work-related functions such as group happy hour or holiday parties — can be separated from their in-office professional reputation. This is simply not the case, especially given today’s advance technology. As such, potentially career-damaging behavior should be avoided no matter the setting. 

Employees who exemplify professionalism in the workplace make it a priority to exercise good judgment, err on the side of caution, and communicate respectfully at all levels within the practice. They actively work to present their best selves and do their best work at all times, both on and off the clock.

Your Turn: What other professional tips do you have to enhance career success? Please leave your response in the comment section below. Thank you.

If you have a specific question regarding this topic, contact Kellie Wynne at kwynne@bsmconsulting.com.

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