Attitude matters in the workplace

Your level of professionalism can affect your future career possibilities.

Cashier smiling at a customer

Your behavior at work, otherwise known as your level of professionalism, can make or break your current position or future career possibilities. Professionalism has to do with how you do your job, not just what you do. 

It is hard enough to get a job, so when you do get a job you want to be able to keep it and succeed in it. Michigan 4-H provides useful materials through the career preparation program on obtaining a job and succeeding in the workplace. One of the most important ways to do this is to think carefully about how professionally you behave when you are representing your place of employment. 

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following tips.

  • Attitude matters. If you make a fully functional widget but complain often, you can affect everyone you work with and possibly even develop a reputation for a bad attitude. Employers need employees who get along. Your attitude can affect whether you get promotions or raises. It can also determine what kind of reference you will receive later on from that employer. Work can be challenging, but having a positive attitude can not only help you enjoy what you do more, but can help you go further within your career. 
  • Customer service skills. Almost all jobs will need customer service skills at some point. Even if you only interact occasionally with members of the public, being able to do so with a smile and helpful attitude is important. Whether you treat members of the public with annoyance or an open mind can greatly impact how the public perceives your company and how your supervisor perceives your performance.
  • Outside of work. If you wear a uniform, pay careful attention to how you conduct yourself outside of work as people who see you in your uniform will associate your behavior with your workplace, whether you are there or not. For example, if you stop at the grocery store on the way home from work, act appropriately. Also, pay attention to how you talk about your workplace and your employer on social media; once something is on the internet, you will have no control over how it gets shared. Social media messages can take on a life of their own, and like a bad game of “Telephone,” it may make its way back to your employer. 

The most important thing to remember about your professionalism is that you are always working towards your next job or promotion. You should always be conducting yourself in such a way that you could get a glowing recommendation from your supervisor.

"Be the best you can be at work!" is another source of additional tips on how to conduct yourself professionally while at the workplace. MSU Extension has many resources to help you with your professional growth. More information can be found on the 4-H Careers & Entrepreneurship website.

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