AS PART of your career success strategy, always be professional at work. Professionalism in any field involves strong work ethics and a commitment to a standard of performance far above the ordinary.

Moreover, good service, fair dealings and courteous treatment of customers, peers, subordinates, fellow professionals and bosses are key to being a true professional of the highest calibre.

Professionalism rests on a few basic key principles:

1. Start your workday early.

Always be punctual for work. Ensure you budget time for delays and traffic hold-ups.

Being early gives you time to mentally organise your thoughts and priorities. It gives you the professional energy boost and the reassurance that you are not "late" or "behind".

2. Be organised.

Never let your table and bookcase become cluttered and untidy. If you must have voluminous papers, files and books handy, then you should label them properly and place them in neat low-rise stacks.

Also have a checklist for the day's tasks on your table. Tick them off as you complete them.

3. Be willing to work shifts.

In today's highly demanding and fast-paced world, be prepared to work shifts.

Due to globalisation of businesses, more professionals are now working in teams across several countries. Accept that you may have to coincide your working hours with those of fellow workers or clients from other cities.

4. Be willing to stay late to finish a project.

Employers are increasingly asking employees to stay late occasionally to finish projects on time.

Be willing to help the job get done. Demonstrate flexibility when required, but ensure it does not become a norm.

5. Continue to grow professionally.

Ensure you keep up-to-date with your profession. Sign up for at least a couple of upgrading or refresher courses annually even if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. Be on the cutting edge of knowledge in your profession.

6. Do more than your share of the work.

Be the exemplary employee at work. Put in more than your fair share of work.

Be willing to Go the Extra Mile (GEM). You will then be the professional GEM at work.

7. Read all you can about your industry.

Spend some time every week to read professional and trade magazines and the business pages of newspapers. Watch videos on issues that may be related to your profession.

8. Grow your professional network.

Make it a point to attend networking events and functions regularly to meet fellow professionals in your industry and related business.

Be willing to be a guest speaker at events where you can share insights about your industry with professionals from other industries.

9. Be resourceful but wise.

No matter how challenging your tasks are, apply your analytical and critical thinking skills to generate new and creative solutions.

Research not just from the Internet, but also from books and magazines at the library.

Listen to discussion programmes on radio and watch documentaries on television to source for ideas.

10. Manage your performance.

Ensure the quality of your work is consistently high.

Make it a point to review your personal performance standards every six months.

Part of your personal development strategy must include self-assessment and self-appraisal relative to peers in your profession.

Most importantly, be prepared to raise your own performance standards.

11. Exhibit financial prudence.

Good professionals are able to exhibit thrift and foresight in their financial judgment.

They have the financial and business acumen to ensure money is spent wisely irrespective of their profession.

Explore the possibilities of minimising cost and optimising profitability. In making financial decisions, try to balance the interests of all concerned parties.

12. Exhibit emotional intelligence.

Being professional also means applying emotional intelligence appropriately to respond to situations and the personalities of those you are dealing with.

You should also use more positive emotions like cheerfulness, enthusiasm and responsiveness.