Eight Ways To Instantly Become Your Most Professional Self At Work
This is how easy it is to become a better worker right now.
From always saying yes to business travel opportunities to being honest about your workload, here are eight great ways to become a better professional – right here, right now.
1. Say yes
When new opportunities present themselves in the office, be ready to say yes. Whether it’s work-related training, an offer to lead up a new project, or maybe the chance of some business travel, a good professional should show they’re willing to take on a challenge and try something new.
Take the last of these for example – according to a recent Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts survey, 25% of employees would opt for more travel as part of their job, and with good reason.
It’s not only a chance to open new doors and advance your professional life (over one in three people in the survey believe business trips help them get ahead in their career), but there’s the potential to learn about a new culture – a key skill in an increasingly globalised market place. Finally, business travel creates the chance to enjoy some downtime in a new and exciting environment.
2. Strike the right balance
We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘work/life balance’. Indeed for many of us it’s accompanied by a jaded laugh. After all, on the one hand we’re told that success means being prepared to work all hours, while on the other we know if we don’t meet the needs and obligations of family and friends, we’re likely to damage those relationships.
So think about how you spend downtime when you’re travelling and how to maximise it. Why not explore your new environment (88% of business travellers surveyed do just that), and then continue this trend back home.
Kathy Chalmers, Chief Human Resources Officer for major corporations, has some more suggestions: “There are great things you can do with your family, like exercise or making a healthy meal together, that will also have knock-on benefits for your professional life,” she says. “Also think about hobbies and pastimes that bring you into contact with new people outside your work environment, and that can provide you with a way to step away from the pressures of work.”
3. Make use of business apps
There are some useful apps out there aimed at professional development. One great example, especially for people who travel for work, is The Business Culture and Etiquette app. It gives you a comprehensive introduction to the dos and don’ts of the culture you’re visiting, whether it’s how to greet someone or what to expect when it comes to negotiating strategy. If you are staying in the right place with free Wi-Fi, it’s easy to download this free app and get started. And in the long-term, it provides an ideal springboard to learning a new language, which will enhance both your professional and personal life.
4. Be pro-active
Don’t treat what happens at work as if you’re nothing but a passive spectator. True, your boss or line-manager might have a greater impact on the work environment, but you still have the power to influence and shape things too. Be ready to take the initiative when it comes to ideas and projects, or if you think something can be done more effectively or efficiently. For example, if meetings are feeling stale and unproductive, why not suggest holding one out of the office – or, if the budget allows, get everyone together at a hotel for a few days.
5. Be honest and open
It can be tricky to broach a situation at work where you’re struggling with a certain task or project, or where your workload feels too much.
“Find a trusted colleague at work, or someone with the appropriate skill-set outside of work to help,” says Kathy. “Or else talk to HR. It is their job to offer advice and help you in situations like this. Most importantly, don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.”
Feel empowered to delegate, if you have the opportunity to do so, and be ready to take a few risks when it comes to new challenges or being outside your comfort zone. At the same time, if you do get it wrong, be upfront about it. This shows courage, honesty and true professionalism, and it will earn you respect among your superiors.
6. Always arrive early
Incredibly simple one, this, but no less important for that. Whether it’s arriving at the office in the morning, or a meeting/conference at home or abroad, arrive a little early (it can be as little as five or ten minutes) in order to make sure you’re properly prepared and ‘in the zone’. This will give you time to go over notes, make some introductions with colleagues or clients who might also be arriving, or just a chance to relax and centre yourself. If you’re staying somewhere away from the office, make the most of the service on offer, whether its getting your devices fully charged, or simply grabbing some downtime over a coffee.
7. Look to where you can improve
We all have aspects of our job we can improve. Take stock of what they might be by writing a list, and think of ways you can immediately do something about them. It might mean doing a bit of extra research or training, or asking for some advice from a colleague, but plugging those knowledge gaps is essential if you want to be professional. And remember, this isn’t a one-time thing; given the dynamic nature of business and technology, it’s important to keep learning and picking up new skills. If you do, you’ll not only feel more confident, but will have a more valuable skill set.
8. Be supportive of colleagues
“Recognise what your colleagues do well and congratulate them for it,” says Kathy. “Not only does it feel good to make other people feel good, it also means those colleagues are more likely to be there for you when you need them.”
Companies want their employees to be competitive, but not to the detriment of the company itself, so while you should pursue your own individual ambitions, remember you’re all on the same team. Having an awards system within the office – one that acknowledges such team contributions – can build up a sense of camaraderie.