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How to be "professional"

By daappley ·
I just had my first performance review. All in all they are happy, good for me. They did mention however that I need to be "more professional." How does one act more professional? Is it an attitude? Do I have to walk differently? Talk differently? Not knowing me I am sure these questions would be hard to answer, so the question should be:

What do you do so that people see you as a professional?

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On being professional

by Info-Safety, LLC In reply to How to be "professional"

When managers talk about being professional, they are usually talking about conducting yourself in a businesslike manner, as opposed to the way you would when you're hanging out with your friends. I have observed people at work trying to "pick up" people coming into their place of work. While this type of behavior may be appropriate at a party, it is not appropriate at work.

It sounds like your work itself is not at issue, but, to some extent, the way you conduct yourself is. If you keep in mind that work environments are usually much less casual than social environments, you should be ok.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Craig Herberg

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by Cactus Pete In reply to How to be "professional"

I think the "professional" thing to do would be to, very politely and matter-of-fact-ly as those who reviewed you for a definition of "professionalism" and and honest explanation of what might be changed about your perceived mannerisms.

It would be important to not become confrontational in any way, and to actively promote that you will not be confrontational to the person(s) you ask. It should be an honest question.

Then again, was this the only negative issue in your review? Some managers feel it necessary to say SOMETHING negative about you just so you don't become too lazy, etc...

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Why didn't they define what was wrong?

by sjohnson175 In reply to Professionalism

It does no good to complain an employee isn't meeting some standard without explaining the standard.

Flawed review.

But most are, IMO.

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It depends on your position

by Oz_Media In reply to How to be "professional"

Being profesional relates to how you act as a person representing YOUR profession.

Now if you were a cloen, being professional would be a HOOT, unless of course you had the mind of an accountant and couldn't laugh, then you would be unprofessional.

It MAY relate to causla jokes with peers, it MAY relate to hwo you act in a board roommetting, perhaps a little too casual. It MAY relate to not spenign all day quietly sittin gat a monitor and clicking keys.

For the most part, it refers to being too casual around people that you deem friends in the office. They may giggle or laugh with you but MAY think it is not neccessary. YOu may crack a joke, even unoffensive, when the boss is around. PErhaps they just don't want to see you smile and actually enjoy your work.

Either way, it usually relates to having too much fun doing what you love to do. Try being the opposite, 'yes sir, no sir,three bags full sir'

MAYBE they don't want to see people enjoy their work.

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It doesn't depend on your position

by archie_t In reply to It depends on your positi ...

Being professional also relates to how you convey yourself in written communications, such as the post from Oz Media. Spell-check and grammar-check all of your communications. No matter your position or department in the company, the appearance of your memos, letters, posts, emails, etc. reflects on you just as strongly as content.

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Attitude adjustment

by amcol In reply to How to be "professional"

You're a department manager, so that means you probably have people reporting to you. How do you judge their professionalism? Apply those same standards to yourself.

Most of what's commonly thought of as being professional is absolutely attitude. It's how you conduct yourself, how you act toward others. No disrespect intended, but even in the few words you wrote I can tell you may not be taking yourself, and therefore your job, as seriously as you need to.

Is your management style business-like, or do you try to be buddies with your direct reports? Can't do both, and while there's nothing wrong with setting a light tone in the office you have to be in a position to crack the whip when necessary. Too many people go to extremes...they act like they're your best friend one minute, and they're screaming in your face the next. That's inconsistent, and it's unprofessional. Neither is it right to do only one or the other. Balance is the key.

Do you make jokes in meetings, especially those attended by higher ups? Do you show you take the agenda seriously, or are you the class clown? It may make you popular, but it's not professional.

Are you a backslapper? Do you do that at appropriate times, with appropriate people? You may be trying too hard to fit in with the "A" crowd...not professional.

Do you get your work done? Are you known as a nice guy, or as a go to guy? Hard to be both. Possible, but hard. You're not at work to be liked, you're there to be respected.

You're also asking the wrong question. Yes, it's important to be SEEN as a professional. It's far more important to simply BE a professional. If you are professional you'll be perceived that way.

If your professionalism is being called into question, you may be suffering from nice guy syndrome...everyone likes you, but no one trusts you with important assignments. That's a bad place to be...a surefire presciption for either getting stuck in one position or even fired.

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by daappley In reply to Attitude adjustment

Great answer amcol. While I don't have people under me..yet (small office) I do suffer from nice guy syndrome. I do try to be friendly and chatty...I have only been here for 3 going on 4 months and this is my first "management" position. I am not used to the feeling that I am in someway above anyone else. That is something they mentioned that I need to distance myself from the other employees as I am in a position of extreme trust, he even used the phrase "you have been given the keys to the farm.." I look back now and I have not acted in a way the would reflect that. It will a difficult path to follow, and a hard change to make.

Thanks for the candid responses.

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No extra charge

by amcol In reply to WOW

Always happy to be helpful.

The good news is it's a lot easier for a nice guy to make the necessary adjustments than someone who harbors a bad attitude, for whatever reason. Attitudes are baggage, and work is hard enough.

You can equate professionalism with maturity, to a certain extent. Experience is, in fact, a wonderful teacher.

Understand what's meant by "distance yourself". It doesn't mean that you need to become a recluse and have nothing to do with anyone unless it's business related. It means keeping your priorities're at work to work, to get a job done, to further the goals of the company. You can do that and be a nice guy at the same time, but there are those times when you simply have to have the courage of your convictions and take a stand. Or, when you have to deliver a hard but necessary message. Or, when you have to mete out some discipline, and not necessarily to an underling but to a colleague and, yes, even a higher up. Do what you have to do. Don Corleone and Donald Trump had it isn't personal, it's only business. You can be professional and still go out for a beer with people.

It's all about balance.

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Cover Up?

by jdmercha In reply to How to be "professional"

As you may have noticed from the replies thus far, different people have different ideas of what professionalism means. In most cases though I'd be willing to bet that it is used in a review as a catch-all for items that cannot be legally demanded.

But based on your descriptions It sounds like AMCOL may have hit your situation correctly.

One other factor that has yet to be mentioned is appearance. Some things that can seem unprofessional are: (depending on your work environment.)
old/dirty/wrinkled clothing
long unkempt hair
odd haircuts
visible tatoos and body piercings
facial hair
Coming in late or leaving early
Forgetting to shave

Good impressions are fleeting. Bad impressions can last a long time. Even coming into work one day when you are sick will leave a long lasting bad impressoin if you cannot perform up to your usual standards. (I got hit with this one once.)

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It also varies by region

by DC_GUY In reply to How to be "professional"

What's "professional" on the West Coast (my home) and on the East Coast (my -ugh- place of work) are light years apart. In the West you can raise your voice, either in laughter or in anger. If you do that in the East they think you're "acting like a teenager." That difference in attitude permeates everything in personal and public life. The Rocky Mountains may as well be a border between two different countries -- or planets.

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