5 Qualities of Professional People – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on October 28, 2012

Unfortunately, there are business qualities we don’t spend enough time on in school – like professionalism or gaining respect. That’s the challenge in today’s reader question:

Hi. I’m a manager at my organization. I don’t feel that I’m professional enough. I don’t always word or say things in the proper manner. There’s very little respect from my staff. Can you help me? 

This is a tough question. Often we want to associate professionalism with leadership or management. In the world of business, everyone needs to be professional. And I agree with the reader – communication skills are important. Occasionally, we can put our foot in our mouths but if that happens too often…well, people figure it’s not a mistake, it’s who we are.

professional, professionalism, respect, business, workplace, leadership, manager, Robert Smith

But there are other qualities that factor into whether others think we are professional (and therefore, worthy of their respect). Here are a few that immediately came to mind:

Knowing your stuff. Please notice I didn’t say “know everything”. Part of gaining respect is being able to say “I don’t know.” Be the best you can at what you do and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.

Standing for something. This is about ethics and having a moral compass. You don’t have to agree with someone to respect their ethics. I’ve known people who threw their moral compass out the window to avoid confrontation. People notice that stuff and their credibility is lost.

Keeping your word. This is a big one. If you commit to something, then do it. If something happens and you can’t deliver – tell someone. Or renegotiate the deadline. Laying low and hoping people won’t notice doesn’t work.

Being honest. I know this should go without saying but we all know that there are people who struggle with honesty. And I’m not even talking about those times when it’s all-out, mean-spirited lying. Think about when a person doesn’t tell someone about a mistake because they don’t want to get involved or confront the issue. Eventually the lies catch up.

Supporting others. In my career, one of the quickest ways I’ve seen people lose the respect of their co-workers is when they to stop supporting them. In this case, being a manager is a tough job with many responsibilities. One of them is developing their team. When team members feel they’ve been abandoned, there’s a huge disconnect and respect is lost.

I’m sure there are other qualities out there. What would you say is the number one quality in professionalism?

Image courtesy of Robert Smith

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