Demonstrating Professional Behavior

Lesson Progress:

Announcing a New Lunch and Learn Series

From: Vincent Lopez, Director Human Resources
To: Oklahoma City Learning Lot Employees

Greetings Everyone,

I wanted to let you know about an exciting new “Lunch and Learn” training series we’re launching at the Oklahoma City office next week (Wednesday in the Library).

The series is on “Ethics in the Workplace” and is being led by Dr. Joanna Riley from City University. I have had the pleasure of participating in training led by Dr. Riley and can promise that participants are in for a big treat. She will be leading us through a series of simulated events and follow-up discussions related to ethical behavior and how to handle difficult situations and decisions.

This series will last for four consecutive Wednesdays and, at its conclusion, participants attending all four sessions will receive a certificate of completion. This training series also qualifies as continuing learning credit for employees looking to satisfy their annual professional development requirements.

There is limited space so please sign up as soon as possible with Human Resources.


Learn More About It


Read: What Is Professional Behavior?


Everyone likes to be recognized for doing good work. To be recognized, however, it’s important to “stand out” in the right ways. At work, that means presenting yourself in the most professional manner possible.

When we say “professional,” we mean the actions, appearance, and communication expected from a someone who is trained to do a job well.

The fact is that your boss, co-workers, and customers are always watching how you act and present yourself. They will notice if you act or speak in ways that are not professional. Unprofessional behavior can affect your chances for advancement or even the ability to keep your job.

Professional Appearance

Whether you are going out on job interviews or have been working at the same company for a couple of years, it’s always a good idea to think about how you are presenting yourself through what you wear. You never want people to think less of your intelligence or work ethic because you dress unprofessionally.

While the “uniform” for different jobs and companies will vary, your path to success is to always look as professional as possible. With that in mind, here are three tips for dressing professionally at work.

  1. Dress to feel good about yourself — How you feel about yourself can have a huge effect on your attitude and performance at Decorativework. Simply put, by dressing neatly or “looking good,” at work, you’ll feel better about yourself. This can translate to improved performance and success.
  2. Dress to send the right message — When you are dressed professionally, people will respect you. What you wear at work says much more to people than you may think.
  3. When in doubt, overdress — When starting a new job or taking on a new position at a company you’ve worked at for several years, it’s always best to go for a polished look. You may find out, after several days or weeks, that looking professional in your new position allows you to dress more informally. However, when you’re starting out and unsure of expectations, the best choice is always to look as professional as possible.

Professional Habits

In addition to looking your best, becoming a highly effective employee also means that you practice certain professional habits. Here are six tips for being a professional and successful employee.

  1. Arrive early to work and to meetings — The time you arrive at work or to meetings shows your level of commitment and enthusiasm. If you arrive early, you are sending a message that you are passionate and interested.
  2. Work harder and smarter every day –Great employees work to be as productive as possible every day. This means having the self-discipline to get your workday started as quickly as possible. It means challenging yourself to do more today than you did yesterday and to increase your competency.
  3. Take pride in doing high-quality work — For great employees, “good enough” is never good enough. As a great employee, you recognize that it is your personal responsibility to make things great at work. You refuse to be satisfied with mediocre work. A great employee always knows that “quality begins with me.” As a great employee, you aren’t sitting around waiting for someone else to make things better!
  4. Have a great attitude — You are 100% responsible for the attitude you have at work each day. You choose your attitude when you wake up in the morning. You keep choosing it on your way to work. You reinforce your attitude when you walk through the door at work and get ready for a new day. Your attitude is contagious to the people around you.
  5. Take ownership of your actions and get things done on time — Great employees finish things, and they finish them on time. Being a “finisher” means you’re persistent. You make a commitment, from the beginning, to see things through to the finish. You pride yourself on never giving up.
  6. Stay work-focused — Great employees don’t allow their private life to have a negative impact on their work performance. While at work, they devote their time and effort to their employer and do not waste company time attending to personal matters.

Professional Communication

Communicating professionally with your boss, your co-workers, and customers is essential in any job. Good communication skills will help you get hired, land promotions, and be a success throughout your career. Here are six tips for professional communication.

  1. DecorativeListen carefully — Good communication means active and engaged listening. Listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying and asking clarifying questions. By being a good listener you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond appropriately.
  2. Use effective body language — Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice add color and texture to what you are trying to say. A relaxed, open stance (arms open, legs relaxed), and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable and will encourage others to speak openly with you. Eye contact is also important as it demonstrates that you are focused on the person and the conversation.
  3. Be as clear and concise as possible — Good verbal communication means saying just enough – don’t talk too much or too little. Try to communicate your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email.
  4. Be friendly — It’s important to be nice and polite in all your workplace communications. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to coworkers and/or employees – a quick “I hope you all had a good weekend” at the start of an email can personalize a message and make people feel more appreciated.
  5. Be open-minded — Be open to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. By being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with people with whom you disagree, you will be able to have more honest, productive conversations.
  6. Show respect — Simple actions like using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.Convey respect through email by taking the time to edit your message.

Reflect: Taking Responsibility


Expand: The Importance of Ethical Behavior in the Workplace

What Is Ethical Behavior?

Ethical behavior refers to right, good, or moral actions by employees. This means doing the right thing when you’re being watched, as well as when no one can see you.

All companies have rules and regulations that outline what they consider to be acceptable behavior. These generally include guidelines on topics such as appropriate language and treatment of co-workers. Most companies also have a stated expectation that employees will behave ethically. But what does that mean?

Here are four common expectations that companies have for ethical behavior by employees.

  1. DecorativeUphold Company Values — Companies expect employees to follow the company’s code of conduct. This code is a reflection of the company’ values and may include general guidelines about honesty and integrity, as well as specific rules about discrimination or harassment.
  2. Respect company property and assets — Ethical employees avoid taking office supplies home, using excessive sick time, misusing expense account funds, and using office machines for personal use. These are all forms of “stealing” from the company. Ethical employees treat other people and company property with respect to ensure the reputation of their company remains intact.
  3. Be honest, open and transparent — Ethical employees are truthful, loyal, and open in their communication both with co-workers and with customers. They deal honestly with others and go out of their way to avoid misrepresenting the truth. They do not embellish details about company products or knowingly mislead people regarding company information or activities.
  4. Act with integrity — A key component of workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, or being honest and doing the right thing at all times. Ethical employees understand that their appearance and actions are a direct reflection of the company they work for. They act in a way that lets others know the company has a clear set of moral standards and operates its business in a quality, first-class manner.

Examples of Ethical Behavior

Example #1

Barbara goes to the women’s restroom and uses the last bit of toilet paper in her stall. Rather than leave the dispenser empty for the next employee, she tracks down the location of the toilet paper and replaces the empty roll.

This action requires five minutes of her time, and no one would have know that Barbara left the dispenser empty for the next person, but she did what was best for others at her workplace.

Example #2

Larry is in charge of a team that just missed a deadline for an important project. It would be easy for Larry to blame his team for, missing the deadline, he takes ownership as the team leader and assumes responsibility. Larry works with his team to address problems and to make sure they do not underperform in the future.

Larry’s actions earn him the respect of his team members and allow them to recognize their contribution to the project failure without having to worry about repercussions. They also understand that similar failure will not be acceptable in the future.

Example #3

A customer asks Susan, a customer service representative, whether a company product can perform certain functions they need. The customer explains that having this functionality will determine whether or not they purchase the product. Susan explains that she thinks the product can do what the customer needs but isn’t 100% positive. Susan offers to talk with her supervisor and get back to the customer that same day with an answer. After talking with her supervisor, Susan discovers the functionality the customer is looking for is missing from the company’s product. She calls the customer who decides to purchase the product anyway since they are having trouble finding another product that does a better job.

Activity:  Own It


What Would You Do?

There are many examples of great employees who show their professionalism is different ways. For this activity, please read this story about a man who faces adversity yet still managed to make it to work every day.

Heart and sole: Detroiter walks 21 miles in work commute.

After reading this story, please answer the following questions in the space provided below.

Lesson Resources

License and Citations

Content License

Lesson Content:

Authored and curated by Rob Reynolds, Ph.D. for The TEL Library. CC BY NC SA

Media Sources

DecorativeHandsome boyCourtanyPixabayCC 0
DecorativeInformal MeetingjamesoladujoyePixabayCC 0
DecorativeMorals905513PixabayCC 0