The Professionalism Guide Part 4: Behavior at Work

April 4, 2017

The Professionalism Guide Part 4: Behavior at Work

This is the fourth part in a multi-part series on Professionalism. If you haven’t already, read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 here. 

You’ve probably heard the horror stories about employees being fired or called into HR for behaving unprofessionally at work. The right attitude and behaviors can help you advance your career—but the wrong behaviors can put you in jeopardy of losing your job.

Are you wondering what’s considered professional in the eyes of your employer? The best thing to do is to check the Employee Handbook for your company—most employers lay out their policies plainly for every employee to see. But if you don’t have a job yet or you’re just looking for some general tips, here are professional behaviors you can adapt at work.

Be punctual—or even early!

Your attendance is a reflection of yourself–just like your skills and attitude. Arriving early gives you a few minutes to prepare for your day before you clock-in, and it shows your interest and dedication to your job.

Even if you can’t always get to work early, you definitely don’t want to arrive late. Traffic or an urgent coffee pickup is not an excuse. If you live in an area with heavy traffic, you should expect delays and plan your route accordingly. If you need coffee, work a 15-minute stop into your schedule so you can still arrive on time.

Never be absent from work without calling your supervisor.

You should never just fail to show up at all. In many organizations, that’s grounds for immediate termination.

If you have to miss work because of an illness or family emergency, make sure you call your supervisor immediately to keep him or her updated. Emergencies happen, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your employer in the loop.

Remember your employer’s big picture.

Whether it’s seeing a certain number of patients or developing a new healthcare technology, your employer has goals. You were hired to assist the company in achieving those goals.

While going about your day, make sure you keep in mind the bigger picture so that you can meet deadlines and show your worth in a tangible way. This will also help keep you focused, because failing to do a task has much more weight when you’re paying attention to the end result.

Be prepared for meetings.

Meetings are rarely anyone’s idea of a good time—but they’re necessary to collaborate. When you go to a meeting, make sure to arrive on time, take notes and be attentive. When you host a meeting, make sure to have your meeting planned out, know your agenda and be ready to answer any questions that your team may have.

Speak and write professionally.

As a healthcare provider, you must speak professionally at all times. That means using medical terms and proper English and avoiding slang. There is nothing worse than sending an email to a coworker or patient with bad grammar or a misspelled word. You are representing your company when you communicate with others, so you need to keep professionalism in mind.

Treat everyone respectfully.

Be polite when interacting with coworkers and supervisors, even if you don’t get along. Say “please” and “thank you” and refrain from making any inflammatory or combative remarks. Always approach situations with a level head and don’t let your emotions win over and make you act disrespectfully.

Don’t criticize other people.

It’s easy to point out things you don’t like or mistakes other people make. However, if you want to be a successful professional, then you should avoid criticizing others. Instead, look for something positive to compliment or create a solution to the problem at hand, rather than handing out blame.

Listen well, take notes and apply what you learn.

Just like in school, work is a learning experience. There are new processes, systems and procedures in every office. Take notes so you can ask fewer questions. Master the tasks you’ve been given to show that you learn quickly. Always be looking for new ways to contribute and expand your skills and capabilities.

If you do that, you’ll likely receive additional responsibility and recognition. The more you know how to do, the more you can increase your value—and your pay.

Do more than expected.

If you finish your work, ask for more. If someone needs assistance, offer help. Showing this kind of initiative demonstrates that you’re flexible and a team player, especially when the task isn’t a part of your job description.

Remember, your company is paying you to work. When you become a supervisor, do you want employees who are there to work, or employees who are there to do as little as possible? Who would you promote?

Showing professionalism at your job could lead to promotions, raises and more respect and success in your industry.  That’s why it’s important to adapt these professional behaviors at work.

Now that you’ve read our Professionalism Guide, you should understand the basics of presenting yourself professionally in interviews, on the job and through social media. For more tips on the job search, careers and more, read our posts at


About the Author

is an award-winning writer and journalist with years of experience within the healthcare and education space. She has contributed to dozens of periodicals, publications and blogs, and she specializes in providing well-researched and thought-provoking content.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ultimate Medical Academy.

The UMA Blog covers information and advice for employers and workers at the intersection of healthcare, education and employment. Our contributors are intimately familiar with a wide range of subjects covering professional development, career advancement, workplace politics, healthcare industry specific topics, personal finance, education and so much more. Learn what you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

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