The workplace has changed. The workforce has changed. Opportunities have changed. The employment landscape has changed. Many companies now hire foreign employment specialists to grow their business, something that wouldn’t have been possible a few decades ago. But what has remained the same? From my experience what has stood the test of time is the notion of professionalism and the elements that comprise the term “professionalism” and what it means to be a professional. The internet defines professionalism as, “the competence of skill expected of a professional.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”managing people for the first timeIn addition to the clinical definition of professionalism is also an attitude. Professionalism has as much to do with the way a person conducts themselves in the workplace as the skill or competence they have in the job. A person who shows consideration and respect for colleagues, subordinates and supervisors alike demonstrates commitment to professionalism. An individual who keeps their word, shows loyalty, exceeds expectations and never compromises their integrity also demonstrates professionalism.I believe professionalism, in addition to individual skills and abilities, is and always has been an attitude. Professionalism is a state of mind. Here are seven characteristics from careerbuilder.com I totally agree with and that define a professional state of mind:

1. Accountability: When something goes wrong, do you immediately look for ways to avoid blame or for ways to correct the problem? Taking responsibility for a mistake – and then learning from it – might be the most reliable mark of a true professional.

2. Consideration: True professionals tend to be aware of how their work and behavior affects everyone around them. Small courtesies such as letting colleagues know in advance when you’ll be unavailable can make a big difference in the team’s overall performance.

3. Humility: If you’re unsure how to best perform a task, do you ask for help or plow forward? If you’re too proud to take direction or criticism, you’re putting pride ahead of the good of the team and the health of your career.

4. Communication: Avoiding comments that make others uncomfortable or undervalued is a prerequisite, of course, but true professionals also grasp many subtler aspects of communication. For example, when you provide feedback, are you careful to do it in a way that will be helpful rather than belittling? Do you listen to input from others even when you think you know best? How do you communicate? Are you doing it with real-time communication tools (learn more over at agora.io) so you can connect with them faster? All of this shows your willingness to discuss important issues without leaving them hanging.

5. Tidiness: The effect of your personal choices on others extends to the clothes you wear. A suit and tie don’t make you a professional. But taking care to dress appropriately for your workplace conveys that you’re attuned to your environment and that you respect the job and the people around you. It’s also a matter of self-interest, since employers say that clothing choices affect promotion prospects.

6. Kindness: Approaching others with patience and respect for their perspective enables constructive criticism and stronger collaboration. When in doubt, fall back on the old standby: Treat others as you’d like to be treated.

7. Consistency: Professionalism is easiest to measure when things aren’t going well – when you’ve done subpar work, miscommunicated with a co-worker or when clients or colleagues are behaving unprofessionally. Under duress, do you treat people with the same respect as you do when everything’s clicking? True professionals aren’t necessarily less emotional than other workers, but they are less likely to let those emotions lead to outbursts and other knee-jerk reactions.

In addition to the seven characteristics from careerbuilder, I would add:

8. Treat Others with Respect. Treating others with respect in general, and especially when the other party is not giving you the same courtesy, is a vital aspect of demonstrating professionalism. Some ways to show respect are using the appropriate tone and words while communicating (the non-verbals are equally if not more important than the verbal forms of communication), focusing on the other person while speaking and maintaining a calm demeanor even when the other person doesn’t.

9. Keep Your Word. Professionalism is based on trust and upholding the commitments you make. Being professional means eliminating excuses and following through on what you said you would do. There is almost nothing worse than the feeling of being let down or disappointed by someone who didn’t follow through on what they said they were going to do. Don’t be that person. Your word at work and in life is all you have: it must be unbreakable. Bottom Line: If you can’t follow through, for any reason, don’t make the commitment.

Like anything worth having in life, professionalism is something you must work at if you want to make it to the rank of the “consummate” professional. In this case, practice truly does make perfect and with time and dedication your professionalism will become a critical element in achieving your career goals. If you own a business and you’re looking to improve how your workforce operates, how they perceive the work they do for you, their satisfaction and more, have a look into various Learning Management System software solutions that your workforce can use to improve engagement, collaboration, communication, and their overall behavior when it comes to working and being a professional.