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Elements of Professionalism

by Rick Suttle, studioD

The workforce would be inconsistent, unpredictable and chaotic without professionalism, and achieving objectives would be nearly impossible. Fortunately, there are certain standards by which companies operate, and the elements of professionalism are a large part of them. If you operate within these norms of professionalism, you have a better chance of excelling in your career.


Appearance is one element of professionalism. Businessmen are usually expected to dress in business casual attire or suits and ties. Dresses, pantsuits or suits are appropriate for businesswomen. In any field, you must also clip your nails, get your hair cut regularly and show up for work cleanly shaven -- or at least keep your beard neatly trimmed. Appearance helps companies project the right image with clients and the public. The air of confidence your appearance exudes makes people respect you more, according to Mind Tools.

Behavior and Attitude

Professionalism also means behaving appropriately on the job and maintaining a positive attitude. Appropriate behavior on the job includes showing up for work on time, respecting your coworkers, suppliers and boss, and abiding by the company's policies and procedures. You must also be empathetic to people's needs. For example, if a subordinate needs to leave early for a doctor appointment, give her that latitude. She can make up the time the next day or week. Stay positive even during the most stressful periods, and believe you can get a project completed on time.


Competence is being able to do your job effectively. You were hired to perform various tasks, such as supervising employees, training them, preparing budgets, writing reports or selling products. Your educational background and experience dictate your competence on the job. Competence also entails a certain degree of autonomy and self-direction. In other words, you know what needs to be done without close supervision. You are organized and keep track of completed and uncompleted tasks.


Professionalism also includes holding yourself accountable for your words and actions, especially when you have made a mistake, according to Mind Tools. If you are a manager, you delegate certain project tasks to subordinates, but you are the one who is ultimately responsible for completing the project on time. Your span of accountability increases as you get promoted and advance to higher level positions.


Integrity is a large part of professionalism. When a client pays you to complete a market research study, for example, you perform to the best of your ability. You don't take shortcuts or shortchange the client on what you promised them -- data table, a report and information on key competitors, for example. Similarly, integrity means being honest with your employer -- writing the exact amount on an expense report instead of over-reporting your tips and gas mileage.

About the Author

Rick Suttle has been writing professionally since 2009, covering health and business for various online and print publications. He has worked in corporate marketing research and as a copywriter. Suttle holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Miami University and a Master of Business Administration from California Coast University. He is author of the novels "Hell Year" and "Suicide Peak."

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