10 Characteristics of Professionalism in the Workplace
Make this the year you shine.
Being a professional in your chosen field means much more than just holding a college degree and donning a business suit. The way in which you conduct yourself is also a key component of your success. Here are 10 characteristics true professionals possess in the workplace (not in any order of importance).
1. A Neat Appearance
A professional is neat in appearance. Pay attention to detail to help you meet or exceed the requirements of your company’s dress code. Pay extra attention to your appearance when you meet with potential clients. Look sharp and organized: Iron your clothes, polish your shoes, and practice good hygiene and grooming.
2. Proper Demeanor
Your demeanor should express confidence, but not attitude. Be polite and well-spoken 100 percent of the time. Whether you’re speaking with customers, superiors, or co-workers keep calm and be tactful, even in tense situations. The next potential customer or superior could be standing around the corner.
Now that social media is mainstream, it’s essential to have a professional demeanor always. Before you act, remember: A potential employer, client, or customer could be watching you online without your knowledge.
As a professional, you are expected to get work done on time. Respond to requests promptly and follow-through with promises in timely fashion. Set benchmarks and meet them to demonstrate reliability.
Become an expert in your field: Continue your education, attend seminars, and attain relevant professional designations. Remain teachable. Knowledge is power!
Your letters and emails should be brief and to the point. Keep your tone polite and formal. Make sure you have a professional signature and email address.
6. Good Phone Etiquette
Identify yourself with your full name, company, and title when placing and/or answering a call. Do not dominate the conversation; listen intently and process what the other person is saying. Do not use slang terms and mind your tone of voice. Smile while you talk: The caller can’t see it, but they can hear it in your voice.
Maintain your composure, even when facing a difficult situation. If a customer or superior is being belligerent, do not demonstrate the same type of behavior. Diffuse the situation with your professional demeanor and move on.
Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals must adhere to a strict code of ethics. Certified members of the AAPC also have a code of ethics to follow. It is imperative to display ethical behavior at all times, on the clock, or off.
A professional can find what is needed with little or no effort. Keep your area neat and organized for easy execution of tasks. Keep an updated appointment book. Carry only the necessary contents for the day in your briefcase. Clutter in your workspace creates clutter in your mind.
Take responsibility for your actions. Own your mistake, work to resolve it, and fix it as soon as possible. Even better: Learn from your mistakes. Lead by this example to create trust.
Be All that You Can Be
If you’re lacking any of these professional characteristics, or have let some slide, take the initiative to improve yourself. Put your best foot forward and you’ll go far.
Gina Piccirilli, CPC, CPMA, is director of HIM at Ellenville Regional Hospital. She began her career in healthcare almost 20 years ago in data entry and went on to code and audit multiple specialties. She is also a consultant, specializing in documentation improvement and E/M auditing. Before founding the Ellenville, N.Y., local chapter, Piccirilli was vice president of the New Windsor, N.Y., local chapter. Piccirilli is a Region 2 – Atlantic AAPCCA representative and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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