Professionalism- It Is All About Finding Yourself

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Professionalism – It’s All About Finding Yourself

“PROFESSIONAL IS NOT A LABEL YOU GIVE YOURSELF- IT’S A DESCRIPTION YOU HOPE OTHERS WILL APPLY TO YOU”

In today’s time the quality of professionalism is a must in every person whose desire is to work in a multinational company or even at small firm. Now a question arise- what is professionalism, how it develops in a person and who will notice this quality?

Professionalism: It is Mostly about You, Thinking Yourself

Professionalism is an etiquette which enables you to practice your profession while dealing with forces of political, legal, organisational and psychological driven nature. It is a touchstone statement that defines the value of a professional. Unlike other subjects, it is hard to document the core of professionalism. It is a virtue based ethics that provide a natural orientation to events spawning thoughts as to how professional obligations and standards are acted upon.

The phrases ‘You only have one chance to leave a first Impression’ and ‘Image is everything’ definitely applies to professionalism.

Professionalism: Macro and Micro view

A specific style of behavior, abilities and conduct of an individual in an organisation defines the professionalism of the person. It is widely acknowledged that professionalism is expected as a co-product of a professional. Every workplace may have different views and policies on the level of professionalism expected from the employees, depending upon the size of the organization .A small organisation may have more personal rapport with its employees than a big company where rules and policies dominate the game. However, some unwritten rules are universally accepted in most companies which include attire, etiquette, communication and values of both the organisation and the individual.

A casual and lazy attitude at workplace, inappropriate dressing, bad language, misuse of office property for personal use, accomplishing personal tasks at workplace capped with indiscipline and unethical behavior are all indicative of complete lack of professionalism in an individual.

Drilling down to micro level, to be taken seriously, the onus is on the employee to behave ‘professionally’ at the workplace. It is not enough just to do one’s work well and be punctual. Professional behavior goes way beyond that. It demands defining one’s own benchmark of attributes that manifest that your actions are in sync with the organisational standards and the ethics governing your profession.

“WITHOUT PASSION, A JOB IS JUST WHAT IT IS: A JOB”

Professionalism Does Not Just Happen

As Lilian Eichler Watson says, “Don’t reserve your best behavior for special occasion”. Tremendous effort from the individual is required on a daily basis to develop and sustain it.

How often can one repeat the basic advice of “Listen to your clients, your management, provide outstanding service, train your people, look for and eliminate inefficiencies, and act like team players?’’ The problem, clearly, is not in figuring out what to do. Rather, the problem is to find the strength and courage to do what we know to be right. That strength and courage demonstrates your professionalism. The lesson is clear: Believe passionately in what you do, and never knowingly compromise your standards and values. In simpler terms, just getting the things done is not a big deal. Doing the things by adhering to values in agreement with your passion creates excellence

E.g. A person who enjoys getting compensated for extra hours he puts on to complete his assignment can’t be called a true professional as he only maximize the organisation’s bill. Instead his thrust on getting the assignment done with excellence and efficiency earns credit to the organisation and himself. A bonafide professional is always content that the reputation earned for being honest and trustworthy is more valuable than the monetary incentive which is irrelevant to take up an assignment, since it is anyway to be received.

Professionalism: An Option or Requirement

One can claim that by routine, we all are pros already:
1) We show up every day
2) We show up no matter what
3) We stay on the job all day
4) We are committed over the long haul
5) The stakes for us are high and real
6) We accept remuneration for our labour
7) We master the technique of our jobs
8) We receive praise or blame in the real world

For some, being professional might mean dressing smartly at work or doing a good job. For others, being professional means having advanced degrees or other certifications framed and hung on the office wall.
But the point to ponder upon is: Is that all? A regular employee may afford to choose between professionalism and amateurishness. On the other hand, a person who choose to stand faithful to his profession has to adopt professionalism sine qua non. Ergo, he would take a leap from a regular employee to a de facto professional while manifesting the following factors:
 Specialized knowledge based on extensive preparation: Professionals are expected to maintain a high knowledge level and expertise. What matters is that they have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in their fields; and that they keep this knowledge up-to-date, so that they can continue to deliver the best work possible.
 Integrity and ethics: The notion of integrity speaks to a soundness and reliability of a moral character and requires an integration of knowledge, intellect, focus, aspirations and fidelity to one’s moral character .They are driven by a code of ethics. They say what they will do and they do what they say.
 Discernment: Involves the capacity to make judgements and effective decisions without being unduly influenced by extraneous forces as mentioned earlier. Since professionals are the guiding forces of economy and society, they need to ingrain robust internal guidance system. Such guidance system is built from knowledge partnered with experience and endurance.
 Trustworthiness: Be it a doctor, engineer, lawyer, chartered accountant or a scientist, all are looked upon with great hopes to render quality services to society. Building trustworthiness involves instilling a confidence and a belief that they would act with competence, guided by appropriate norms and standards.
 Maintain a collective networking spirit outside of the organization: They understand that their work is not limited to their organization. They understand the importance of professional relationships outside of work with others in the same field.
 Maintains high standards of performance: Professionals have high levels of expectations both of themselves and others. Doing a job well is more important to a professional then the number of hours that they log on the clock. While money may be important, it is not the driving force behind the professional’s desire to put forth exemplary work.
 Emotional Intelligence (EI): A fundamental trait that can neither be taught nor be bought from any one-to remain professional under pressure. Genuine professionals show respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation. They exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence by considering the emotions and needs of others, and they don’t let a bad day impact how they interact with colleagues or clients.

These could be just a reflection of what professionalism demands from you. Unlike medicine, other subjects don’t have a well laid down literature on professionalism, hence leaving it to the individual to define his own Hippocratic Oath. The emphasis is to draw a line between a regular employee and a professional. Thus a constant introspection of where you stand in the exhibition of professionalism and how high you lay your standards in achieving it transposes you from a persona non grata to a bonafide professional.

It’s about thinking yourself

Although an attempt can be made to describe this underpinning of a professional in a few attributes, the substance lies in defining your own standards to succeed in professionalism. Then only, you would:
 Take pride in your work and show personal commitment to quality.
 Be driven by a pursuit of excellence and not by financial controls.
 Anticipate, and don’t wait to be told what to do i.e. show initiative.
 Are eager to learn as much as you can about the business dealt with.
 Are open to constructive critiques on how to improve.
Thus, it is predominantly an attitude, not just a set of competencies.

Concluding Remarks
Knowledge is a condition for profession, money is a condition for a business but professionalism is a price for both profession and business. The sine qua non to professionalism is continual self-improvement fostered with thinking as to how to cruise upto the full potential.

Although professionalism means keeping commitments doing high quality work and having expert status, occasionally the pursuit of these might tempt you not to volunteer for projects that fall outside your comfort zone.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t try. Analyse risk beforehand to minimize the consequences of getting things wrong, be honest about any skill gaps that you have and work to fill them.

“WHEN PASSION BLENDS WITH PROFESSION, IT TURNS INTO A MASTERPIECE”

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