As a CIO, IT manager, MSP owner, or IT professional, you probably cringe when you read traditional articles about professionalism in the workplace. Sweeping guidelines for workplace attire, in-office conduct, and professional communication don’t always fit the environments you lead or where you work. What many articles overlook is that what’s appropriate varies based on the physical work environment, type of customer, and company culture. But three things apply no matter where you work or who you work for. Here are three ways to strengthen professionalism in the workplace – regardless of what the dress code says.
Workplace Professionalism for IT Professionals
1. Adopt a service-oriented attitude.
People enter the IT field because of their love for tech, but they quickly learn it’s a customer service field at its core. As an IT professional or an exec, you’re always serving someone whether by answering help desk calls for customers, installing hardware for a client, or keeping software systems running smoothly so your colleagues can conduct the organization’s day-to-day business. True professionals in any field, especially IT, adopt a service-oriented mindset, which will help you maintain a positive attitude about your work.
2. Be reliable.
Let’s face it – things happen. Hardware shipments get delayed, scope creep means jobs take longer than expected, and some problems don’t have a quick fix. But IT pros need to be reliable no matter the circumstance. This means showing up on time, communicating with your customer or coworker about a job’s status if there’s a delay, and promptly responding to texts, emails, and phone calls. Communication lets your customers and coworkers know they are a priority and reassures them that their need is still on your radar.
3. Practice situational awareness.
There’s no one-size-fits-all communication standard for professionalism in the workplace. An IT professional will communicate differently with a colleague than a supervisor. They’ll carry themselves differently when serving a small start-up versus a buttoned-up corporate workplace or a long-term customer compared to a brand-new client. The key to acting professionally in any situation is awareness. IT pros must “read the room” and conduct themselves accordingly to meet expectations. Word choice, verbal tone, attire, and proper etiquette will change based on where you’re working. Be aware of your surroundings.
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